When the New York Jets waived defensive lineman Marcus Dixon (above) this past weekend, it had many Jets fans scratching their heads.
Who exactly is Isaako Aaitui and why did the Jets claim him and give him Dixon’s roster spot?
A raw athlete, Aaitui is a 25-year-old nose tackle who was let go by the Miami Dolphins. Dixon, on the other hand has proven himself as a pretty solid piece of the Jets’ defensive line rotation.
That’s why it wasn’t all that surprising to see the Jets re-sign Dixon on Tuesday, after he cleared waivers.
Aaitui, a Jet for all of a few days, has now been waived himself for the second time in less than a week, although it’s very possible that the Jets may keep tabs on him anyway.
Although the Jets’ practice squad is full, the Jets have the opportunity to add a ninth player to their practice squad if the NFL grants them a special international player exemption for Australian tight end Hayden Smith.
If they’re granted permission to carry Smith as an international player, they could conceivably sign Aaitui to their practice squad and develop him, which I’m sure they’re quite interested in.
On the surface, it may seem a bit strange to see the Jets waive one player and sign another, only to waive him and re-sign the first player again. But the theory behind it is sound.
It appears to me that the Jets wanted to take a flier on Aaitui, but they knew that he was probably too raw to carry on the 53-man roster.
By waiting until Saturday to waive Dixon, when most teams had already filled their defensive line depth chart, they took a calculated risk that no one would claim Dixon and that they would be able to get him back.
When they claimed Aaitui on Saturday, they let Dixon go, hoping that he would find his way back. By claiming and then waiving Aaitui, they can put him on the practice squad, if a spot becomes available.
By rule, the Jets could not have signed Aaitui to the practice squad unless he had cleared waivers. Claiming him and then waiving him might’ve been their best way of insuring that he’d be available.
Update: Now comes word that Aaitui actually tore his ACL in his first practice with the Jets, and the Jets promptly waived him after the injury. Just a terrible, terrible break for the young man.
The bottom line is that Marcus Dixon is once again a Jet. He earned that opportunity in camp, and I’m glad to see him back.
As for Aaitui? Only time will tell. With his size, that injury could be a devastating blow to his NFL career. For his sake, I wish him the best of luck in his recovery.