Jets general manager Joe Douglas has been eyeing this weekend for a while.
Since he was hired in June, after the draft and the rush of free agency, Douglas only has been able to tinker with his roster. This weekend, he gets a chance to reshape it to a greater degree.
First, Douglas must trim the roster from 90 to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday and then he can begin to claim players cut by other teams on Sunday.
“We’ve got the third waiver claim, and we plan on using it,” Douglas said last week. “We’re fired up.”
As Douglas said, the Jets are third in the claim order (it is the same as the NFL draft order from the spring). There are plenty of areas of need for Douglas to address, headlined by kicker and cornerback.
Before he gets to picking up players, he must get rid of many of his own. That began Friday with the team waiving running back Elijah McGuire, according to a source. McGuire, a sixth-round pick in 2017, started five games in two years for the Jets and ran for 591 yards and four touchdowns.
McGuire is the latest draft pick by former general manager Mike Maccagnan to get cut by the new regime. Maccagnan’s nine-man 2017 draft class is now down to just two players remaining on the roster — Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the team’s first two picks that year.
The Jets made another move Friday, signing safety Matthias Farley, who spent the past three seasons with the Colts. He started 15 games for Indianapolis in 2017. The Jets waived safety Santos Ramirez to clear the roster spot.
Cutdown day sometimes holds surprises, so we will see what Douglas has planned. After being at 90 players, the roster gets cut nearly in half. Jets coach Adam Gase talked about how difficult this weekend is.
“It’s the worst part of it,” Gase said. “When you spend as much time as we do with these guys from April until now, especially once you start training camp. You’re around each other from 6:30 in the morning until 9 or 10 o’clock at night, every day, six days a week it feels like. It’s tough because you develop relationships and you have to move on. You’ll never see some of these guys again.”
Douglas and his staff must be scouring the wire for what kickers will shake free. Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet missed three field goals on Thursday night and has been shaky since signing with the team three weeks ago. Teams that carried two kickers in training camp will be cutting one of them this weekend, which will give the Jets a market.
Douglas said he expects to be able to improve the team this weekend and specifically mentioned special teams.
“From personal experience, I feel like, in the past, we were able to get really good players that contributed on our team, specifically on special teams in previous stops I’ve been at,” Douglas said. “There are going to be opportunities whether it’s trades, whether it’s claims, there are going to be guys really from that 46th, 47th spot on the roster all the way to 63 — when you’re talking about your 10-man practice squad — where you can really bring in guys that can help you in those spots.”
The other huge area of need for the Jets is cornerback. They have little depth at the position and Douglas could bring in two or three corners before the Jets face the Bills on Sept. 8.
Wide receiver, edge rusher and punt returner are other positions to keep an eye on this weekend. Gase said Douglas’ staff is prepared.
“Those guys … that’s what they get paid the big bucks for,” Gase said. “They are constantly evaluating that stuff. They do a good job of bringing names to us if we’ve coached guys before or competed against certain guys. They will come to us and ask us what we think of certain guys when we were with them. We’ll give them our opinion and they’ll give us their guys and we’ll evaluate them and be part of the process. Right now, they have let us focus on coaching the guys here.”