New York Jets' 53-man roster projection: Plenty of moving parts, trade rumors

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets open the 2021 NFL regular season against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 12 at Bank of America Stadium. The Jets are coming off a 2-14 season, a last-place finish in the AFC East, and their 10th consecutive year out of the playoffs, the longest active drought in the NFL.

As the Jets prepare for the final cuts, their roster feels like a jigsaw puzzle scattered across a table top. It won't be easy to put together. With so many glaring holes and the No. 2 waiver priority, general manager Joe Douglas figures to be in a roster-churning mode over the next few days. He also could be in the trade market, looking for help at quarterback, linebacker and cornerback.

The Jets' best bargaining chip is wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who took a pay cut in the offseason and plays a position where the Jets actually have good depth. Douglas also has 10 draft picks at his disposal in 2022, including four in the first two rounds.

Surprise cuts? There are always surprises with a new coaching staff, led by coach Robert Saleh. Wide receiver Denzel Mims, tight end Chris Herndon and quarterback James Morgan were disappointments in camp, fueling speculation about their status.

The roster will be cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Here is a projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Zach Wilson, Mike White

Wilson became the presumptive starter the moment he was drafted No. 2 overall in April, and he hasn't done anything to make people question that. The backup situation is anyone's guess.

Do they go with the unheralded White, who has no regular-season experience, or give the job to journeyman Josh Johnson? The hunch is White, by default. They can always re-sign Johnson, 35, in an emergency situation. (Some might say the current circumstances constitute an emergency.) One thing is certain: The QB2 won't be James Morgan, a 2020 fourth-round pick. He showed no progress throughout the summer, and it would be a waste of a roster spot to keep him on the 53. He belongs on the practice squad.

What Douglas should do is call the Chicago Bears about Nick Foles ($4 million base salary), but it sounds like they don't want to pay above the veteran minimum. This is no place to be cheap.