Jets Release Projected Starter in Surprise Move, Add Extra Safety

Bless Austin

Getty Former New York Jets cornerback Bless Austin celebrates a preseason win on August 27, 2021.

The roster moves didn’t stop for New York Jets GM Joe Douglas after the August 31 cuts and the September 1 waiver claims.

In all honesty, they probably won’t stop anytime soon either, because the franchise still has multiple areas to fill on the initial 2021 depth chart.

The latest transaction came as a shocker as Douglas elected to release a projected starter at the cornerback position, third-year professional Blessuan Austin. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo was the first to report on the news.

A 2019 sixth-round pick, Austin started 16 games with the Jets over his first two campaigns, with 88 total tackles and zero interceptions (one forced fumble). The former Rutgers product struggled in coverage throughout his first two NFL seasons.

Head coach Robert Saleh noted that he was “very appreciate towards Bless” during a press conference on September 1. “He’s a good young man [but] with the youth that we have at corner and the competition that they have all been able to provide and the growth that they have all been able to have since OTAs and training camp, we’re going to give those guys a run.”

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Who Will Start Opposite Bryce Hall?

If you told me that Austin was going to get cut about two or three months ago, I would not have batted an eye. The CB has been lackluster and unreliable for the franchise, and I have no problem replacing him.

On September 1, this move is much more of a head-scratcher. None of the Jets’ young rookie corners seem ready enough to start after the preseason.

Isaiah Dunn got torched against Green Bay and Philadelphia — it’s a miracle he made the roster after those two outings. Jason Pinnock missed time with an injury and slipped down the depth chart throughout camp, although he did rebound against the Eagles.

Javelin Guidry and Michael Carter II have been great but their specialty is the slot, not the outside. That leaves Brandin Echols as the best option to start opposite Bryce Hall.

The best option on the roster that is.

It’s fishy that Douglas waited until after cuts to make this decision, being that he could have claimed a cornerback off waivers if he’d done it before. That makes me wonder, is the Jets GM targeting the position via trade?

It’s certainly possible. One name to watch in any trade scenario, including one at tight end, is wide receiver Jamison Crowder. The veteran was missing at practice today.

For now, it will remain an open competition according to Coach Saleh. “You could talk about all four of them in terms of Brandin Echols, you’ve got Pinnock obviously, Dunn and Guidry,” he said.

It was interesting to hear Saleh mention Guidry as a candidate for an outside corner role rather than the slot.

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Jets Boost Ranks at Safety

Just after the Austin release was announced, a corresponding move occurred as Adam Schefter dropped word that Douglas had signed safety Sheldrick Redwine.

The Cleveland Browns fourth-round pick in 2019 lasted two seasons with the franchise totaling 69 tackles, one interception, three pass defenses and a half-sack in eight starts and 27 games played.

Redwine received solid coverage and pass rush grades from Pro Football Focus during his rookie campaign, but those numbers declined heavily in 2020. The safety’s run defense has always been a negative, his biggest flaw as a player on paper.

The former Brown is also a major special teams contributor with 329 snaps on ST over two seasons in Cleveland. He’ll act as the primary backup safety until second-year player Ashtyn Davis recovers from his foot rehab. Davis has begun practicing but may still miss Week 1.

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