Jets’ 2020 Third-Round Pick Waived in Unexpected Post-Deadline Cut

Jabari Zuniga

Getty Former New York Jets edge rusher Jabari Zuniga (#92) makes a shoe-string tackle on November 22, 2020.

It’s been a crazy September 1 for New York Jets fans.

Some of the players they thought they might have lost on August 31 are back with the practice squad, like Vyncint Smith and Kenny Yeboah. Others that seemed to make the 53-man roster, like Bless Austin, are gone.

Add two 2020 draft picks to the latter portion of that statement. Quarterback James Morgan chose to sign with the Carolina Panthers after being offered a spot on the Jets’ practice squad, per general manager Joe Douglas (via Connor Hughes).

Morgan was originally cut, so his departure isn’t a huge surprise, the second 2020 draft pick is.

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Jets Waive Edge Rusher Prospect

A few hours after the Austin news broke, another bombshell came out of Jets’ camp. Edge rusher Jabari Zuniga has also been released.

Along with those two cuts, the franchise has re-signed tight ends Ryan Griffin and Daniel Brown, as well as safety Sharrod Neasman. Jarrad Davis (LB), Conor McDermott (OT) and Ashtyn Davis (S) were also placed on the injured reserve as expected. Oddly, Chuma Edoga was not included in that group, but it could mean the offensive tackle is returning at some point soon.

More on those moves below.

For Zuniga, this is a long-time coming for some and a disappointing realization for others. The Florida pass-rushing prospect never materialized, factoring into eight games his rookie season with zero sacks and five tackles.

He never looked comfortable in those appearances and injuries have virtually stalled any development since entering the league. Douglas did proclaim that he’s “not moving on” from Zuniga and plans to have him join the practice squad if the sophomore clears waivers, but that’s a big if.

The edge rusher has talent, he just has trouble staying on the field. You have to figure that there’s at least one NFL franchise willing to take a chance on an upside flyer like that who’s only 24-years of age.

Douglas also implied that waiver claim Tim Ward took Zuniga’s immediate spot on the 53-man roster.

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Prayers Left Unanswered at Tight End

GM Joe Douglas Press Conference (9/1) | New York Jets | NFLJets GM Joe Douglas speaks to the media on the Wednesday following roster cutdown day. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action:

The Griffin and Brown re-signings are very concerning. Douglas’ comments on the subject are even worse.

“Getting Griffin and Dan back in the room is big,” the Jets GM stated, “we know what Griff brings from a leadership standpoint, we know what Dan brings from an athleticism and special teams standpoint, his ability to create mismatches in the pass-game. So we do feel good and we feel good about getting Kenny [Yeboah] back to the practice squad.”

Hughes of The Athletic summed those comments up pretty well. “Zach Ertz is not en route.”

It looked to be a certainty that the Jets would trade for a tight end after leaving Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco as the lone options at the position on August 31, but now the band is all back together minus Chris Herndon, and the trade speculation has died down.

To make matters worse, Ertz relayed this message to Philadelphia Eagles fans on September 1, which made it appear that he plans to stay with the organization for the long haul. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo had the coverage.

Ertz isn’t the only option — we’ve outlined O.J. Howard as another possibility — but the fact that the Minnesota Vikings were willing to pay a fourth-round pick for Herndon is pretty telling that the tight end market is a barren wasteland right now. The Vikes were desperate after losing Irv Smith to an injury that is most likely season-ending.

Perhaps Douglas has another trick up his sleeve, but things look extremely bleak at tight end as of now. Your 2021 group is currently; Kroft, Griffin, Brown, Wesco (fullback).

We can all collectively scream now.

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