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Should the NY Jets avoid these cut candidates?

JuJu Smith-Schuster, NY Jets, Free Agent, Patriots, Cut
JuJu Smith-Schuster, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Getty Images

If these players are released, should the New York Jets sign them?

The New York Jets’ roster is possibly as complete as it has ever been. ESPN’s Mike Clay ranked the Jets’ roster the second-best in football, while Pro Football Focus recently gave them the eighth-best quarterback, a top-10 offensive line and running back room, the best defensive line, the best linebacker corps, and the best cornerback trio.

Still, no NFL team is perfect, and the Jets have depth holes at a few remaining positions. Therefore, if some veterans across the NFL are released during roster cutdowns, the Jets could be on the lookout. It’s still a while off, but these are some of the most notable cut candidates whom the Jets might be interested in.

But should they strike?

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Patriots

I don’t think it’s likely that the Patriots will cut Smith-Schuster for the same reason that the Jets will hang on to Allen Lazard: Smith-Schuster has a $7 million guaranteed salary for 2024. Smith-Schuster has a $10.3 million cap hit in 2024, and the Patriots will save just $647,000 by releasing him. Still, some have speculated that if the Patriots cut ties with Smith-Schuster, the Jets could be in contention to pick him up.

Not only do I not think this would be wise, but I highly doubt it will happen. For one thing, Smith-Schuster plays predominantly in the slot, and the Jets like their combination of Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, and Malachi Corley in that spot.

More importantly, if the Patriots let Smith-Schuster go, it should signal something to the rest of the NFL. The only proven receiver they have is Kendrick Bourne. If they don’t consider Smith-Schuster to be another one, that likely means Smith-Schuster is washed up.

Even though Smith-Schuster had a 78/933/3 stat line in 2022 with Kansas City, he may have fallen off a cliff since then. During the 2023 offseason, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer claimed Smith-Schuster’s knee was hanging by a thread. Smith-Schuster proceeded to post a 29/260/1 line in 11 games with the Patriots.

Although knee injuries didn’t hamper Smith-Schuster in 2023 — he missed six games with a concussion and an ankle injury — it does seem that his body is breaking down. Even though he’s just 27, I think the Jets should and will stay away.

IDL John Cominsky, Lions

John Cominsky is a very interesting prospect if the Lions let him go. He didn’t do much in his first three seasons in the league after the Falcons drafted him in the fourth round in 2019.

However, moving over to Detroit in 2022, Cominsky posted 44 pressures on 356 pass rush snaps in a hybrid edge/interior role; his 12.3% pressure rate was above average for edge defenders (25th/77). His 62.8 run defense grade ranked 38th out of 72 qualifiers, so he was mostly average in that area.

In 2023, Cominsky still played a hybrid role but qualified as an interior pass rusher. His pressure rate fell to 7.7%, which ranked 49th out of 77 qualified interior defensive linemen. However, his run defense grade rose to 71.0, ranking 13th out of 86 qualifiers.

At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, Cominsky could replace John Franklin-Myers’ body type. He seemingly would be more productive than Micheal Clemons, particularly along the interior. The Lions have an abundance of depth along the defensive line, which is why Cominsky could find himself on the outside looking in. If he’s available for a decent price, the Jets would do well to check in on him.

EDGE Darrell Taylor, Seahawks

Some have suggested that the Jets should sign Darrell Taylor if the Seahawks release him, but I have a hard time seeing why. He’s a terrible run defender (no run defense grade above 47.1 in three seasons), a terrible tackler (no miss rate below 20%), and a below-average pass rusher (has a pressure rate under 10% the last two seasons). He’s a former second-round pick, but that doesn’t give him much value.

EDGE Joseph Ossai, Bengals

At just 24 years old, Joseph Ossai might seem like an intriguing candidate. However, he’s a mediocre pass rusher (career 10.8% pressure rate) and doesn’t bring much as a run defender (46.7 grade in 2022 on 100 snaps). There’s a reason he’s on the roster bubble.

WR Mack Hollins, Bills

The difference between Mack Hollins and most of the other receiving names brought up for the Jets is that Hollins is predominantly an outside receiver. The Jets could use an upgrade over Allen Lazard and Jason Brownlee as Mike Williams insurance on the outside, even if Lazard makes the team (and possibly Brownlee too). At 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds, Hollins fits the bill.

Hollins had just 18 catches for 251 yards for Atlanta in 2023. However, he had a 57/690/4 stat line with the Raiders in 2022. Then again, that was a career outlier, and his 2023 numbers were exactly according to his career norms. Hollins is also 30 years old.

The Bills signed Hollins to a one-year, $2.6 million deal, but with only $1.1 million guaranteed. With Keon Coleman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Curtis Samuel, and Chase Claypool all new arrivals and the promising Khalil Shakir returning, Hollins could be a cap casualty.

There’s no use relying on him, but Hollins could be a WR5/6 upgrade at the league minimum.

TE Mo Alie-Cox, Colts

The Jets could use some run-blocking depth. Jets fans like to tout Jeremy Ruckert as a great blocker, but he’s much more hit-or-miss than they recognize. Kenny Yeboah is unproven. If the Colts release veteran Mo Alie-Cox, his 61.0 run-blocking grade, ranking 11th out of 46 tight ends (min. 200 run-blocking snaps), should have the Jets take a look.

Alie-Cox has mostly graded out similarly throughout his career (save a down 2022 season), and although he doesn’t provide much as a receiver, he could be a good depth addition.

S Andrew Wingard, Jaguars

For his career, Andrew Wingard has allowed 6.6 yards per target and 0.389 yards per coverage snap across 1,135 coverage snaps. Those both would have been top-15 marks among qualified safeties in 2023.

Safety coverage statistics can be highly misleading, and Wingard has been a poor tackler in his career (15.5% miss rate). He had a relatively minor role in Jacksonville over the past two seasons after starting in 2021, likely for a reason. Still, if he’s released, he might be an interesting addition to the Jets’ mix.

Wingard has played deep safety 59.6% of the time in his career, which would also give the Jets another deep option with Tony Adams (41.6%) and Chuck Clark (45.3% in 2022) profiling more as box safeties.

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