The New York Jets re-signed returner Jeremy Ross earlier this week. The Jets have now announced what seemed like the most likely reason why: they no longer trust Jalin Marshall with returns.
Said head coach Todd Bowles:
I thought Jalin struggled a little bit catching the ball. It got to the point where he’s helping out more on offense, and we’re trying to take something off of his plate.
Marshall was stripped of his kick return duties with the signing of C.J. Spiller earlier in November. Now he has been stripped of his punt return duties as well. For many Jets fans this move was long overdue, as Marshall has struggled badly with fumbles, in addition to having the lowest punt return average of any punt returner in the NFL with enough returns to qualify in the rankings.
If we take what Bowles said about Marshall at face value Marshall will still have a role as a wide receiver for the Jets. This could create an interesting situation for 2015 second round draft pick Devin Smith, who has been practicing with the team for well over a month and was promoted to the active roster from the PUP list on November 9, 2016. With Ross as the punt returner and Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall all seemingly having a role in the Jets passing offense, it would seem Smith has no obvious role on the 2016 Jets. That could certainly change with injuries or with Smith rising up the depth chart, but as of now it will be interesting to see when and if Smith ever makes it onto the active roster the rest of the season.
If Smith is unable to beat out any of the three rookie receivers the rest of 2016, even after many weeks of practicing with the team, that does not bode well for Smith's future with the Jets. The Jets presumably have a vested interest in the success of their second round draft pick. If Smith, who was a starter in 2015, isn't able to beat out at least one of the current rookies, his future with the team may well be in jeopardy as early as the 2017 season.