The New York Jets have announced their first round of roster cuts, and it should come as little surprise that running back Joe McKnight is among them. McKnight has had a tumultuous offseason that has seen him fail a conditioning test, miss significant time with injury and get arrested. The Jets finally decided that enough was enough, and they have moved on from the former 4th round pick.
McKnight proved to be an excellent kick returner for the Jets last season, and he ranked 3rd in the NFL in return average. McKnight was expected to contribute on offense this season as well, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. When Mike Goodson was unable to report to camp because of his own legal issues, it was believed that McKnight’s role would grow significantly.
However, McKnight was never able to stay on the field long enough to prove that he could become a reliable player. The Jets are thin at running back, so the fact that they were still willing to cut McKnight shows just how fed up with his antics they were. The Jets are trying to get rid of the circus atmosphere around their team, and cutting McKnight was a logical step towards that goal.
It now appears that the Jets will move forward with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell as the focal point of the backfield. Goodson may yet return to the team, and the Jets still have several other backs in camp. They decided that McKnight was more trouble than he was worth, and his release opens the door for one of the other running backs to make the roster.
Clyde Gates will likely assume McKnight’s role as the primary kickoff returner, and the team believes that he can be equally successful. Gates is exceptionally fast, and he has shown promise as a return man this preseason.
McKnight’s future is questionable, because all he has proven in his three years in the league is that he is a good return man with off the field issues. Good return men are not so difficult to find as to make other teams want to take a chance on McKnight. He will struggle to find a team for the start of the season, and McKnight may need to wait for an injury to another team’s returner before getting another chance in the NFL.