"There's only one football," offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said Tuesday. "You always want everybody to want the ball at all times, and I think we have a lot of people that want the ball and deserve the ball."
Less than 24 hours after agreeing to terms with Cook, the Jets welcomed back Hall, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list. Their 2022 leading rusher, 10 months removed from ACL surgery, didn't do much in his first practice -- just light individual drills. The Jets are "very confident" he will be ready for Week 1, though, according to coach Robert Saleh.
The Jets' plan is to limit Hall's workload early in the season, leaning on Cook as the primary ball carrier, according to a source. They also have Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight, both experienced runners, and rookie Israel Abanikanda, a fifth-round pick from Pitt.
"The room that we have right now, it's nuts," Carter said. "You can't get this [many good players] on Madden." Hall, who rushed for 463 yards and a 5.8 average in seven games as a rookie, is regarded by the organization as the long-term feature back. But the size of Cook's contract -- a one-year deal for $7 million in base pay, a source said -- indicates he will have a significant role.
"We're adding another great guy to the room," Hall said. "It's going to be good for competition, and it's going to bring the best out of everybody.
"All of our reps might be lessened, and we're going to have to work [Cook] in. It's going to make us do the most we can with our reps. It's going to be fun. He's going to come in and he's going to challenge us, we're going to challenge ourselves and we're going to challenge him as well."
In the past, Hall and Carter had moments when they publicly pushed back against new running backs joining the team.
Carter recently admitted he didn't embrace the midseason acquisition of James Robinson, whom the team acquired in a trade when Hall was injured. Hall, in a since-deleted tweet, expressed disapproval in the offseason when the Jets were rumored to be interested in Ezekiel Elliott.
Both seemed fine with the Cook move. Carter said he wouldn't have agreed to speak with reporters if he were bothered by it. The interview, he said, is something he wouldn't have done last season.
"That's me being a grown-up now," he said.
For the sake of transparency, Saleh called each running back after Cook's deal was completed to explain the team's plan and define each player's role. Saleh said it was "very, very important to make sure everybody was on board." He said each player is "comfortable with their role." Carter said he was touched by Saleh's gesture.
Now the question is, when will Cook and Hall practice?
Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the Minnesota Vikings, was now en route to New Jersey to show up for work Wednesday for the first time with his new team and to officially sign his contract, agent Zac Hiller told ESPN's Adam Schefter. He's also still recovering from shoulder surgery in February and won't be cleared to practice for at least another week, according to Saleh. It's possible neither Cook nor Hall will play in the preseason.
"As a defensive coach, I would just sit there and say, 'God, you've got Breece and Michael and [Cook], and you've got two of those other guys in the backfield,'" Saleh said. "There's a lot of different things you can do to create a bunch of headaches for defensive coaches."
Saleh said the organization thoroughly researched Cook's pending legal matter. In 2021, a former girlfriend filed a lawsuit against him, alleging physical and emotional abuse. He then filed a defamation suit against her. Both cases are pending. The Star-Tribune reported last month that he offered her $1 million to clear him of wrongdoing despite her previously sworn abuse allegations against him.
"I think we all came to the agreement that we were very comfortable with the person and his situation," Saleh said, declining to discuss specifics.
As for Hall, the Jets had been pointing to this week for his activation. Saleh said Hall "looks freaking good" but added that they will "take our time with him." Hall said he expects to be ready for Week 1, but he stopped short of saying it's a sure thing. He said it's up to the trainers and coaches.
Admitting he was "an emotional train wreck" during the toughest times of his rehab, Hall said his knee is sound, although he also said he still experiences occasional knee soreness and still wonders whether he can make certain cuts. He downplayed Tuesday's return.
"Just another extra step in the journey," he said.