Jets WR Corey Davis 'stepping away' from NFL at age 28

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis, excused from team activities for the last 10 days, announced Wednesday he's "stepping away" from football.

The 28-year-old Davis, a high-priced free agent addition in 2021, released a statement on his Instagram account, saying he had been mulling the decision for "some time now." He did not use the word "retirement" or give a reason for walking away. The Jets placed Davis on the reserve/retired list, meaning they retain his rights through this season, which is the final year of his contract.

Davis, who skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason program, was due to make a non-guaranteed $10.5 million in the final year of his contract. With the offseason additions of Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Randall Cobb, Davis' role in the offense was uncertain.

"For some time now, I've been contemplating stepping away from the sport of football," Davis said. "This decision has not been easy. Although I am a deep person, I am a man of few words. I've been searching my heart for what to do and I feel that stepping away from the game is the best path for me at this time.

"I have more blessings than I ever could have imagined -- I have an amazing family, a beautiful wife and two healthy children that I look forward to spending more time with. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities that I have had and will continue to have on my journey. Thank you to my family and friend and the Jets organization for supporting me through this process."

Davis played 17 snaps in the second preseason game, Aug. 12 at the Carolina Panthers. Afterward, he was excused by the team for what it described as a "personal" reason.

Davis told teammates several weeks ago, well before training camp, that he was mulling this decision, a source said.

Earlier Wednesday, coach Robert Saleh was vague when asked about Davis' status, declining to say whether he'd be back before the season opener. Saleh said Davis would be excused for "however long it takes." The Jets released statements from Saleh, general manager Joe Douglas and owner Woody Johnson, all of whom thanked him for his professionalism.

Saleh, speaking to reporters after the announcement, said the organization knew that Davis was mulling his future during his absence from the team.

"We were aware of it and just trying to support him and his family and any decision that they decided to go with," Saleh said. "Selfishly, obviously, we'd love for him to play. He's an unbelievable man, he's an unbelievable player.

"At the same time, he's also an unbelievable father and an unbelievable husband and friend. Excited for him in this new journey. "At the same time, [we] always want him to know he always has a family here."

Asked whether Davis would be welcomed back, Saleh said, "The door is always open if guys want to play football."

Douglas called Davis a "true professional on and off the field. He was a great example to our young players of how to come to work every day and put in a complete and consistent day of work."

The Jets' wide receiver depth could be tested. About an hour before the announcement, Lazard left practice for an undisclosed reason. After the Jets traded Denzel Mims (6-foot-3) and lost Davis (6-3), Lazard (6-5) is the only experienced receiver over 6 feet tall. The Jets also have Malik Taylor (6-3) on the roster, but he is currently sidelined by an injury. The top four roster spots are set with Garrett Wilson, Lazard, Cobb and Hardman, but there's a drop-off after them.

Alex Erickson, a seven-year veteran with 96 career receptions and extensive experience as a punt and kickoff returner, could be next in line. In fact, he got practice reps Wednesday with the starters. Undrafted rookies Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson have impressed at times.

Largely because of injuries, Davis did not live up to his contract with the Jets. In 2021, he signed a three-year, $37.5 million contract. He missed eight games in 2021 because of a groin injury that eventually required surgery. In 2022, he missed four games with a sprained knee.

In two seasons, he managed only 66 receptions for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.

The Tennessee Titans drafted Davis fifth overall in 2017. He played four years in Tennessee, producing his best numbers in 2020 -- 65 catches, 984 yards and 5 touchdowns.