Behind Jets’ decision to cut top Mike Maccagnan pick
Four months after selecting him in the third round of the draft, the Jets sent linebacker Jachai Polite packing.
In a move that was stunning for how quickly they gave up on him, the Jets made Polite one of their cuts on Saturday as they trimmed the roster from 90 players to 53. General manager Joe Douglas is not the one who drafted Polite, of course, so he had no allegiance to the player out of Florida that former GM Mike Maccagnan targeted with the 68th-overall pick in April.
Polite did not have a strong training camp or preseason but it is still shocking to see the Jets give up on a player who was taken so high before he even played a regular-season snap. It is fair to question whether he was given enough of a chance to prove himself, but it is clear the coaches and front office had soured on him.
Polite was projected as a first-round pick by some before the scouting combine, but his draft stock plummeted after a poor workout and some bad interviews. There were also questions about his maturity. The Jets felt they were getting a steal in the third round, but it is pretty clear that coach Adam Gase was not on board with this pick by Maccagnan, who was fired a few weeks after the draft.
Polite was viewed as a possible solution to the pass-rushing problems — he had 11 sacks last year for the Florida Gators. But it became clear in training camp that the coaches were not high on him. He played mostly with the third team and made very little impact. Another damning sign was that he was not playing on special teams, which is where rookie linebackers usually make their mark.
Though it was clear that Polite was not making much of an impact in training camp or in the preseason, there still was a thought the Jets would hold onto him to see if they could develop him. The raw athletic ability was there. There is also the fact that edge rusher is a hole on this roster. The Jets gave up on Polite even though they do not really have an answer at that position currently on the team. Maybe they find one during wavier pickups on Sunday, but edge rushers are hard to find.
The team did not make any of the decision-makers available to the media to discuss the cuts, but Gase was asked about Polite on Tuesday and clearly sounded lukewarm, at best, on him.
“I think there’s been some good and there’s been sometimes where we get him running around the quarterback and that’s what we want to avoid doing,” Gase said. “We just got to keep cleaning up his technique. I know those guys we’re working hard at it, that whole room, of trying to play things exactly how Gregg [Williams, defensive coordinator] wants it played.”
He was also asked why Polite was not a factor on special teams.
“The way that our league is now, special teams is meant for smaller guys now,” Gase said. “I know he’s an outside linebacker, but really, he’s a defensive end, if you really think about it. It’s the same way — usually you can find guys that will do punt but past that kickoff return is smaller guys now because there’s so much space that you have to be very athletic and you have to do a great job of staying in front of guys.”
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