FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets open training camp on July 26 at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park. Is this the year they turn it around? Despite the NFL’s longest active playoff drought (11 years), the Jets fueled optimism with a strong offseason, highlighted by making three first-round picks.
Coach Robert Saleh, 4-13 in his first season, is trying to change the losing culture. They have a coaching foundation, with all three coordinators returning. The Jets are the only AFC East team that can boast such continuity.
They have tougher roster decisions than last year, which is a good thing. It illustrates better depth at certain positions, meaning players such as wide receiver Denzel Mims and cornerback Bryce Hall might generate trade interest.
Circumstances have changed. Instead of player development, the primary objective last year, they have to put more emphasis on winning now. That will affect how they stack certain positions.
Our 53-man projection:
New year, different philosophy. Criticized last season for carrying two untested quarterbacks on the opening day roster — Wilson and White — the Jets now have a seasoned backup in Flacco, whom they re-signed after a midseason trade. It might be a luxury to carry three, but White, who achieved folk-hero status with an epic performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, is viewed by the organization as a starting-caliber player.
Carter and Hall, a 2022 second-round pick, are the only true roster locks; they represent the present and future of the position. Coleman, Johnson, La’Mical Perine and undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight will battle for the third and fourth spots. Perine, a holdover from the previous coaching staff, is down to this last chance.
FULLBACK (1): Nick Bawden
Bawden and Trevon Wesco both played well in the spring, but the edge goes to the ultraphysical Bawden.
Does Mims get another chance, or does he become the latest in a long line of Jets second-round failures? He slips through for now, but he shouldn’t get comfortable because this could go either way. Typically, they have six receivers, dressing five for games. Special teams, where Smith has an advantage over Mims, is a consideration for the WR5 job. Moore and Garrett Wilson, a first-round pick, have star potential.
This is one of the most improved areas on the team. They spent a combined $25 million in guarantees on Uzomah and Conklin, then used a third-round pick on Ruckert. That means the top three jobs are locked up unless there’s an injury.
The ideal number is eight, but Mitchell complicates matters…