Jets Release Promising Second-Year Reserve Unexpectedly

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh during Week 5 of the 2022 season.

Over the first five weeks of the season, the New York Jets have only elevated three players from the practice squad on gameday — offensive tackle Grant Hermanns (three times), linebacker Hamsah Nasirildeen (twice), and tight end Kenny Yeboah (once).

Last night on October 11, they decided to release one of those three as Hermanns was cut from the practice squad in an unexpected move. Team reporter Ethan Greenberg announced the news in a press release, noting that the Green & White will be re-signing special teamer/wide receiver Diontae Spencer to the practice squad yet again.

The Jets must see something in Spencer, a 30-year-old returner with experience in Denver, because this is his third stint with the practice squad this season.

Is This the Last Jets Fans Have Seen of Grant Hermanns?

The Purdue left tackle had a cult following within the Jets fanbase on social media and after the Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown injuries this summer, some called for Hermanns to make the 53-man roster over a player like Conor McDermott.

The Jets had been developing the second-year prospect inside their scheme since 2021 — when he joined the franchise as an undrafted free agent. In the end, Hermanns was promoted three times in 2022 as an insurance policy that was never needed on offense. He did log his first seven NFL snaps on special teams in Weeks 2 and 4.

The disappointing thing about this transaction is that Hermanns showed real promise and development since entering the league as a UDFA. He flashed often during the preseason as a young and talented blocker that could become a reliable backup for the organization long-term.

It seems somewhat short-sighted to cut him for a reserve returner in his thirties — especially one that has seesawed on and off the practice squad in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, the former Boilermaker’s lack of remaining elevations probably worked against him here. The Jets just signed two veterans at offensive tackle between Cedric Ogbuehi and Mike Remmers, and Hermanns could only play for Gang Green again in 2022 if he was signed to the active roster. Even with O-tackle being an area of need, that always felt unlikely.

Having said that, nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to these practice squad roles and you always have to wonder if a cut is the end of the line or not. Just look at Spencer as a prime example. Sometimes teams do have a sort of wink-wink agreement that a release is temporary, sometimes they don’t and a prospect gets snatched up by another organization.

In the coming days or weeks, we should find out if this is the last we’ve seen of Hermanns in a Jets uniform.

Jets Work Out 4 Defensive Backs, Including Troy Pride Jr.

Another interesting development came through the NFL transaction wire last night as the Jets hosted four defensive backs on a tryout basis.

The biggest name in the group was former Carolina Panthers fourth-round draft pick, Troy Pride Jr., who was touted for his speed and athleticism out of Notre Dame. NFL Network draft expert Lance Zierlein detailed the cornerback’s background in 2020:

Pride was an all-state receiver and superb returner at Greer Senior High in South Carolina but spurned an offer from Clemson to become part of the Notre Dame tradition. He started three games and played in five other contests as a true freshman (12 tackles, one pass breakup). Pride started four times in 2017, recording 22 stops, two pass breakups, and his first interception. In addition to becoming a full-time starter at cornerback in 2018 (47 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two interceptions, 10 pass breakups), Pride ran track for the Irish, posting the squad’s best 60- and 200-meter dash times for the year. He finished his career on the gridiron as a 13-game starter in 2019 (40 tackles, one interception, six pass breakups).

Ex-Panthers head coach Matt Rhule selected Pride as part of a defensive overhaul, but the raw talent never really worked out in Carolina. He still needs a lot of fine-tuning at the NFL level.

The other three workouts were safeties James Wiggins, Innis Gaines and J.R. Reed. All three have special teams experience but Wiggins was the only drafted prospect of the bunch — a former seventh-round pick with the Arizona Cardinals.

Nicknamed “Freak” at Cincinnati, Wiggins is another freak athlete that was derailed by knee injuries in both college and the pros. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad briefly this fall and has not latched on anywhere since.

Gaines is an undrafted talent from the Green Bay Packers’ system and Reed has bounced around the NFL, spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. The Jets have not signed any of these DBs at this time.

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