We've confirmed with a league source that the Jets are set to part ways with nose tackle Kris Jenkins, right guard Damien Woody and linebacker Vernon Gholston. The move comes as the team readies itself for potential free agency moves, even as the looming lockout on Thursday may freeze the franchise from further personnel changes. The cuts, along with the rumored exodus of linebacker Jason Taylor, would free up cap room as the team looks to resign the bulk of its core players including wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith.
Jenkins is perhaps the most likely to be re-signed by the club as the defensive line lacks true depth, even though Jenkins missed nearly the entirety of the season with a knee injury. Injured in the first quarter of the Week 1 loss to Baltimore, Jenkins would most likely be welcomed back at a number significantly lower than the $6.4 million dollars he was due this year, his second to last season under his current contract.
It is estimated that the three cuts, not including the rumored parting with Taylor, saves the Jets over $8.3 million dollars against the cap.
After a late season knee injury shelved him for much of the stretch run, it became apparent that Woody was expendable and no longer a fixture of the offensive line. But Woody's injury opened the door for the versatile Wayne Hunter - a versatile lineman who had just one N.F.L. start to his name before this year - giving the 29-year old the chance to step in and play admirably. Hunter, who was called by head coach Rex Ryan "the best backup tackle in the league," proved to the Jets that he was ready to start and is potentially cheaper than Woody.
The Jets will have to compete with other teams for his services though as Hunter will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. They also have 2010 second round pick Vladimir Ducasse available though the rookie only played two games last season and has yet to make a N.F.L. start.
Perhaps the biggest bust in Jets draft history, the 24-year old Gholston was taken in the first round of the 2008 draft but never transitioned well to the professional ranks. Though a defensive end at Ohio State, Gholston was moved to linebacker in the N.F.L. and looked consistently slow to break to a play. Never fully grasping his new role of playing standing up, Gholston was moved to defensive end this past year but once again never settled in.
The sixth overall pick in 2008, Gholston had a career high 17 tackles in 2009 and has never registered a sack in the N.F.L. He was inactive for the final two games of the playoffs and his limited role will likely be replaced by Rutgers product Jamaal Westerman, who is in the third and final year of his rookie contract.
Per the league source, the team will likely make the announcement of the players being cut sometime today.