The New York Jets had something of a minor mystery with their roster all week. Earlier this week the Jets cut down to 52 players, leaving one spot open on the 53 man roster. It was an unusual move, but it seemed likely the final roster spot would be filled before opening day. Today the spot was filled. Quarterback Mike White was signed off of the Jets practice squad to the 53 man roster.
The move to sign White to the 53 man roster is mildly surprising. The Jets kept all five quarterbacks in training camp. Three, Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, and James Morgan, were originally on the 53 man roster. Two, Mike White and David Fales, were originally on the practice squad. Backup Joe Flacco is still not quite recovered from his injuries, and backup James Morgan is a rookie and not quite ready to step in if Sam Darnold goes down. The new COVID-19 practice squad rules for 2020 allow NFL teams to elevate up to two players each week to the active roster, then return them to the practice squad after the game, without having to expose them to waivers. Teams can’t elevate the same player in consecutive weeks, so it was assumed by many that the reason the Jets kept both White and Fales on the practice squad was so they could alternate weeks being elevated to the roster as the backup quarterback until Flacco was ready to play. With White now being signed to the 53 man roster, he can not be returned to the practice squad without passing through waivers, making White the likely backup at quarterback for the duration until Flacco is ready. All of which makes for another little mystery: why keep the 5th string quarterback, David Fales, on the practice squad? Fales will be 30 years old in early October; there is no upside to this player. Why keep a 5th string quarterback who is not being developed, has no upside, and is not required for shuttling onto the weekly roster on the practice squad when you have the backup White on the 53 man roster? It’s hardly the most important issue, but it is nonetheless a bit puzzling.
The two players the Jets chose to elevate from the practice squad this week are running back Josh Adams and wide receiver Josh Malone. Adams and Malone provide some much needed depth at the injury depleted running back and wide receiver positions. Per the new practice squad rules, they can both be returned to the practice squad after the Bills game without passing through waivers, but they will both be ineligible to be elevated again next week.