Rookie minicamp may have opened Friday afternoon for the New York Jets, but the fall-out of the Aaron Rodgers saga continues to bring a level of excitement to Florham Park.
That’s what happens when a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback chooses to come to a franchise looking to end a decade-long playoff drought.
Even with the excitement that comes with Rodgers being involved with the franchise, there’s still plenty to focus on with the seven drafted players getting their first taste of Jets practices. That, along with 13 undrafted free agents being invited along, New York and their coaching staff continue to look to see who belongs on the 90-man roster once camp begins over the summer.
“We want to acclimate those that are going to be on the roster. We’re putting them through a lot of things they’ll see here,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Friday. “You’re looking for talent, mindset, the way they approach these next few days…if they are capable of making the 90, they’ll stand out.”
We’ll get to the full list of invites that are currently working out in a little bit, but there was plenty more to focus on from Saleh as the Jets opened practices to the media for the first time in 2023.
Saleh on Rodgers and his “wish list”
The former four-time NFL MVP has made quite a first impression within the organization and his head coach.
“I’ve never been around a quarterback quite like him personally…he’s practically another coach out there. It’s impressive,” Saleh explained of Rodgers.
There have been several videos detailing how Rodgers has been a participant in several practices during the second phase of OTAs. He’s also received some help thanks to the Jets front office with several former Packers now joining the team like Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Billy Turner.
But with all the focus on Rodgers bringing his “wish list” to life in New York, the Jets’ head coach shot that down rather quickly.
“I do think it’s a silly narrative. I say that because there are 32 teams in the NFL and it’s common practice when you have changes, a new coaching staff, that you surround those people who they are familiar with,” Saleh added. “I had a wish list – Solomon Thomas, Kwon Alexander…guys who I have worked with that are familiar with our messaging and scheme. We had it on offense (too). Tom Brady goes to Tampa and gets (Rob) Gronkowski. It’s very common for new faces to want old faces…it’s not just him. That whole narrative is tired but it’s common practice.”
So while Rodgers may have former teammates join him, the Jets aren’t remotely concerned about mixing them in with the young veterans already competing for spots on the roster.
One name that was brought up Friday afternoon was Jets wide receiver Corey Davis. Davis carries a cap hit of over $10 million if he’s on the roster past June 1st. While there may be a consideration to move the veteran deep threat wideout, the Jets seem to be very comfortable with keeping him with the team.
“Bringing in Allen and having Corey, those things are where Allen and Corey excel. We’ll see how they play in OTAs in training camp,” Saleh said. “You can never have enough receivers. It’s a really cool group of receivers and we’re excited to see how it shakes out.”
Saleh later stated that Davis “will be on this team” when pressed about the matter.
So while a restructuring seems to be on the table, it doesn’t seem that the Jets are willing to part ways with one of their more expensive wide receivers just yet.
UDFA Invites and Draft #s
This is really the only time to get excited about draft picks receiving their numbers for the first time in the organization. Below are the numbers for the seven draft picks the Jets currently have.
Will McDonald – 99
Joe Tippmann – 66
Carter Warren – 67
Israel Abanikanda – 25
Zaire Barnes – 53
Jarrick Bernard-Converse – 29
Zack Kuntz – 81
Abanikanda and Bernard-Converse both signed their rookie contracts Friday as well.
The seven drafted players aren’t the only people competing over the weekend. New York invited 13 undrafted free agents to try out with the team.
DE Deslin Alexander – Pitt
WR Jason Brownlee – S. Miss
LB Claudin Cherelus – Alcorn St
S Trey Dean – Florida
RB Travis Dye – USC
WR Xavier Gipson – SF Austin
LB Maalik Hall – SE Ok St
TE E.J. Jenkins – Ga Tech
LB Caleb Johnson – Mia
OL Brent Laing – Minn-Duluth
CB Derrick Langford – Wash St
WR T.J. Luther – Gardner-Webb
S Marquis Waters – Texas Tech
The Jets will have the second day of rookie minicamp begin Saturday afternoon.