Greg McElroy was the odd man out in the New York Jets’ crowded and still unsettled quarterback situation.
The team announced Saturday night it released McElroy, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, with an injury as New York got its roster to the mandatory 53-player limit. He was competing with Matt Simms, who made the roster after an outstanding summer, for a backup role.
Newly signed Graham Harrell remained with the team, giving the Jets four quarterbacks with rookie Geno Smith, the likely Week 1 starter, and the injured Mark Sanchez.
Among several other moves made by the Jets, wide receivers Ben Obomanu and Mohamed Massaquoi, defensive tackle Antonio Garay, kicker Dan Carpenter and offensive tackle Jason Smith were released.
Running back Mike Goodson was moved from the active non-football injury/illness list to the reserve/suspended after receiving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Coach Rex Ryan said after the team’s preseason finale victory over Philadelphia on Thursday that carrying four quarterbacks on the roster ”will definitely be considered.” Many assumed those four would be Smith, Sanchez, Simms and McElroy. Instead, McElroy was let go after missing most of the preseason with a sprained left knee.
McElroy was overtaken by Simms, the son of former Giants star Phil Simms, and impressed Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg all summer. Harrell was signed on Wednesday after being Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay.
McElroy made one start last season, when he leapfrogged Tim Tebow on the depth chart and played in place of a benched Sanchez. He was sacked 11 times in that game against San Diego and suffered a concussion.
It would seem unlikely the Jets will carry four quarterbacks into the regular season – unless Sanchez’s injury could keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Sanchez hurt his right shoulder last Saturday night when he took a crunching hit from the Giants’ Marvin Austin late in the fourth quarter, after it appeared he might have wrapped up the starting quarterback job.
Smith, who has had an up-and-down summer, threw three interceptions and took a safety in the three-plus quarters against the Giants, and was outperformed by Sanchez the last few weeks. But Sanchez’s injury – the Jets will only say he’s ”day to day” – clouded the closely contested quarterback competition.
It now appears nearly a given that Smith will be the starter when the Jets open the regular season at home against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8. Ryan said on Friday that the team had not decided on a starter, and could go into the season without having declared one.
”There’s a lot of factors that go into things,” Ryan said Friday. ”Health could be a factor, and there could be other things as well. That’s why I would consider the competition as ongoing.”
Obomanu and Massaquoi were somewhat surprising cuts as it seemed one of the two might make the initial 53-man roster. Obomanu, who spent six seasons with Seattle, had a solid summer with the Jets. Massaquoi was recently signed by the Jets after being cut by Jacksonville, but played sparingly in the preseason finale because of an injury.
It could also be a sign that Santonio Holmes is close to being ready for the season opener after being sidelined since Week 4 of last season with a foot injury.
Garay signed with the Jets in March to add depth to the team’s defensive line, but the emergence of both Damon Harrison and Leger Douzable made him expendable.
Carpenter was signed by New York on Tuesday after being cut by Arizona, but incumbent Nick Folk won the kicking competition.
Smith was re-signed by the Jets last week after spending camp with New Orleans. The former No. 2 overall draft pick by St. Louis in 2009 was acquired by New York last season.
Goodson returned to the team last Monday after being away during training camp for personal reasons. He was arrested in New Jersey on drugs and weapons charges in May, and was suspended by the league Monday after he was reinstated to the team. Goodson won’t count against the Jets’ 53-player roster during his suspension.
Also cut by the Jets on Saturday were: running back Mossis Madu, wide receivers Michael Campbell and Zach Rogers, tight end Chris Pantale, offensive linemen Erik Cook and J.B. Shugarts, defensive linemen Junior Aumavae, Lanier Coleman and Tevita Finau, linebackers Troy Davis, JoJo Dickson and Jacquies Smith, and defensive backs Royce Adams, DB Mike Edwards and S Rontez Miles.