New York Jets release CB Bless Austin, likely to start rookie at position

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In a surprise move, the New York Jets released starting cornerback Bless Austin, their most experienced player at a position filled with rookies.

The Jets made the move Wednesday, one day after keeping eight cornerbacks on their initial 53-man roster. They tried to trade Austin, who started 10 games in 2020, but found no takers.

"With the youth we have at corner, and the competition they've all been able to provide and the growth they've been able to have since OTAs and training camp, we're going to give those guys a run," coach Robert Saleh said. "We're going to give them an opportunity to compete over the next week-and-a-half and roll with those guys."

Still, the decision was unusual because Austin had been getting the majority of the first-team reps, opposite the other starter, Bryce Hall, a second-year player.

Austin missed playing in the second preseason game in Green Bay due to a personal reason but was on the sideline at Lambeau Field for the game. At the time, Saleh claimed it wasn't disciplinary. On Wednesday, he said the missed game wasn't a factor in the decision to release Austin.

Saleh named four potential replacements, including rookies Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn and Jason Pinnock. He also mentioned Javelin Guidry, who has worked primarily in the slot. Echols, a sixth-round pick from Kentucky, is considered the favorite to start with Hall.

"They all have the potential to be high-end starters," Saleh said.

With a new coaching staff, and coming off a 2-14 season, the Jets are rebuilding. They will have at least eight rookies in prominent roles, Saleh said.

They have a staggering amount of youth at corner: None of the seven corners on the roster has more than seven career starts (Hall).

In other moves, the Jets claimed two defenders off waivers -- linebacker Quincy Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars) and defensive end Tim Ward (Kansas City Chiefs). Williams is the brother of Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

They also signed former Cleveland Browns safety Sheldrick Redwine.