Jets Suspension Opens the Door for Once-Promising Draft Pick

Bryce Hall

Getty New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall celebrates an interception in 2020.

It’s easy to forget that Bryce Hall was an unquestioned starter for the New York Jets at the cornerback position heading into the 2021 season — after seven starts as a rookie.

Taking that one step further, Hall appeared to be a rising star on an otherwise lackluster roster in 2020. Now the Jets have Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed Jr., along with Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols. Just like that, Hall became an afterthought three years into his NFL career.

Entering year four, the Virginia product could be hard-pressed to make the Week 1 roster, and that’s no exaggeration. With more infrequent reps, Hall’s performance has suffered, dropping him to fifth on a depth chart that includes special teams captain Justin Hardee — who will most likely steal a roster spot from an extra CB.

That leaves little room for error if you’re Hall, who already profiles as a 2023 cut candidate due to his increased cap hit during the final year of his rookie contract — a $2.822 million hit according to Over the Cap. Of course, the NFL’s decision to suspend Echols for Week 1 could help save his job, being that he won’t count as a member of the official 53 for the opener.

Brandin Echols Suspension Could Sway Jets to Keep Bryce Hall in 2023

The Jets held onto Echols and Hall in 2022 despite replacing both over the offseason. This gave them elite depth at cornerback, turning a major weakness into one of the greatest strengths on the roster — if not the greatest.

Considering the surge in salary and cap hit, as well as the overall abundance of talent on the 2023 roster, many thought Hall’s days were numbered this summer. The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt cautioned against this narrative during a 90-man roster breakdown on June 20, however, noting that “Echols’ suspension helps [Hall’s] chances of making the team.”

Rosenblatt added that the once-promising draft pick is still “fighting for a roster spot” though, with new competition in undrafted rookie Derrick Langford and déjà vu in the form of an NYJ reunion with versatile speedster Javelin Guidry.

2023 draft pick Jarrick Bernard-Converse is also in the mix. The LSU cornerback is expected to focus on free safety and nickel at the NFL level, although he did play outside CB in college.

Finally, veteran role players Craig James and Jimmy Moreland close out the room as we look ahead to training camp.

It’s true, whoever makes the roster in place of Echols could theoretically be released upon his return, but you never know what’s going to happen once a player makes the initial 53-man roster. An injury could free up a spot, or perhaps the front office decides to subtract from another area that’s stronger than expected. Sometimes, surviving one week is all it takes.

Jets Unlikely to Cut Brandin Echols After Suspension

Of course, it has been floated that the Jets organization could just cut Echols after his off-the-field incident, but that feels very unlikely at this time.

Rosenblatt called the 2021 draft pick “a high-end backup,” voicing that he’ll “stick around when that [one-week suspension] is over.”

The NYJ beat reporter had far less to say about the other options. “[Guidry] brings depth primarily as a nickel corner and on special teams,” Rosenblatt wrote, while simply calling Langford “a UDFA in a crowded room.” Not exactly a strong vote of confidence.

James and Moreland were labeled as likely practice squad candidates once again.

Rosenblatt isn’t general manager Joe Douglas or head coach Robert Saleh, to be clear, but he is a reliable team insider that doesn’t appear even slightly concerned about Echols’ status with the team. A one game suspension is manageable, but it should be noted that the absence comes against a key division rival in the Buffalo Bills.

That feeds into the narrative that Hall will have a place on the Week 1 roster. After all, if Gardner or Reed were to get injured, do you really want Guidry or a rookie going up against Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis in Week 1?

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