Jets Release Hard Knocks Star, Re-Signing 6-Foot-4 WR

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh in 2023.

The New York Jets kicked off Week 3 with a roster move, re-signing wide receiver Irvin Charles to the practice squad following his recent release from the 53-man roster on September 16.

While it’s great to get Charles — a promising 6-foot-4 WR prospect and potential special teams weapon of the future — back, the unfortunate byproduct was the release of fan favorite veteran DT Tanzel Smart. The Jets official X account announced the transaction on September 20.

Smart caught national attention throughout the 2023 training camp and preseason after his rise to stardom on HBO’s Hard Knocks, but Jets fans have been following the hard-working reserve since he first joined the organization in 2020. A fixture on Robert Saleh’s practice squad over the past few seasons, it’s a bit of a surprise that Smart was actually let go.

During behind-the-scenes footage on Hard Knocks and One Jets Drive, it’s plainly obvious that Smart gained the respect of both his peers and the NYJ coaching staff. Having said that, the 28-year-old’s raw talent will always be a step below an NFL contributor like Quinton Jefferson or even an NFL backup like Solomon Thomas — who was a former first-round pick in his own right.

Smart has bounced around the league since entering it on a sixth-round status with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for him throughout the remainder of the 2023 campaign.

Tanzel Smart’s Top Moments on HBO’s Hard Knocks With Jets

If this truly is the last that Jets fans see of Smart — assuming this isn’t a brief bit of roster gymnastics until Greg Zuerlein is healthy enough to cut loose backup kicker Austin Seibert — we’d be remiss if we didn’t look back on the lovable defender’s best moments in green and white this summer.

Of course, Smart’s Hard Knocks journey began with a hilarious viral clip that involved his mispronunciation of the word: “charcuterie.” It also included several comical moments from experiencing Broadway to Thomas’ attempt at a charcuterie board in honor of Smart.

The average American viewer quickly learned that Smart’s role within the organization was no joke, however. The HBO docuseries took fans into the home of the journeyman, giving viewers a chance to meet his motivation — his wife and daughter. The veteran was also one of the only Jets defensive linemen to say a few words during the “I will not be the weakest link” scene in episode three, quoting Vince Lombardi.

“To let a guy like that go, it’s heartbreaking in a lot of ways,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich stated in episode four of Hard Knocks after Smart was cut from the initial 53-man roster.

“But at the same time, our paths will cross again in football or in life,” Ulbrich went on. “You coach because of players like him, players that just give you everything they have in their soul, in their body, every single day.”

Smart did take the time to meet speak with Hard Knocks after his release. In the emotional footage, he called his cut from the organization “the reality of the business” while holding his daughter in his arms.

“A lot of times you do all you can and that s*** is just never enough,” Smart voiced. “It’s just not your time to play. And that’s the sucky part because there’s a lot of good a** players out here who just never got a shot.”

He added that he believed he “deserved to be on the 53, so if God wants me to me here, I’ll be here, but if not, I need to go be on [a different] 53.” Later, when Smart was offered a spot on the practice squad, he told Hard Knocks that while his goal was to make the active roster, he was happy to “still have a job” inside the organization, noting that he “accomplished sticking around another year [in the NFL].”

Unfortunately, his most recent campaign as a Jet only lasted two weeks as of now.

Ex-Jets Punter Braden Mann Signs to Eagles Practice Squad

Some news from around the NFL. Ex-Jets draft pick and former starting punter Braden Mann has earned another opportunity as a pro.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter relayed the news on September 18, informing: “[Philadelphia] Eagles signed P Braden Mann to their practice squad and released P Arryn Siposs from their practice squad.”

A former top punter prospect, things have not panned out for the Texas A&M star. Since being drafted by the Jets in the sixth round of 2020, Mann has an average net yardage of 39.3 and a downed inside the 20-yard-line percentage of 29.1%.

The Eagles do not currently have a punter on their 53-man roster.

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