In doing so, Jets general manager Joe Douglas had to clear a roster spot. The franchise announced the corresponding cut later in the afternoon, noting that they decided to release offensive lineman Eric Smith to make room for Cajuste.
“Smith (6-4, 308) spent last season on and off the Green & White’s practice squad and had a stint with the team in 2018,” team reporter Ethan Greenberg informed. “He first signed with the [Miami] Dolphins in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia before joining the [New England] Patriots squad the following season.”
OL Eric Smith Never Registered a Game With Jets
Smith fit the mold of a Douglas blocker based on his versatility, but he was never called upon to play in a regular season game with the Jets.
The OT/G last appeared with the Arizona Cardinals in 2021, but the journeyman has also played in games with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in previous seasons. He’s bounced around the NFL for a total of six years.
If Smith latches on elsewhere in 2023, it’ll be year seven for the long-time reserve. Including the Jets, he’s already spent time within seven different NFL organizations.
His most recent 2022-23 stint with the Jets was the third of his career, so it’s possible he’ll be on Douglas’ short list should any depth issues arise in the future.
Background on Jets Signing of OT Yodny Cajuste
Greenberg also provided information on the Cajuste signing once it became official.
“Cajuste (6-5, 310) played 10 games in 2022 for the Patriots and started in 3,” he detailed. “He was originally drafted by New England in the third round in 2019 out of West Virginia. He did not play in a game in either of his first two seasons because of injuries.”
“Cajuste has played in 17 games and started in 5 over the last two seasons,” Greenberg added. “He was waived by the Patriots in May.”
Joe Douglas Keeps Strengthening Jets OL Depth
Smith was a fine reserve, but Cajuste is the flat-out better player, and it appears Douglas will stop at nothing to strengthen his OL depth in 2023. That depth now runs 16-deep.
Here’s how the NYJ offensive line breaks down heading into the month of June:
- First team: Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton.
- Second team: Billy Turner, Max Mitchell.
- Third team/reserves: Carter Warren (draft pick), Cajuste, Greg Senat.
- First team: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson.
- Second team: Wes Schweitzer, Adam Pankey.
- Third team/reserves: Chris Glaser, Brent Laing (UDFA).
- First team: Connor McGovern.
- Second team: Joe Tippmann (draft pick).
- Third team: Trystan Colon.
It’s possible that the Jets have never had offensive line depth that’s been this strong and solid before — at least, under Douglas’ administration.
Turner and Mitchell have already proven that they can start at the NFL level, as well as Schweitzer and Cajuste. The 2023 second rounder, Tippmann, is also expected to take over as the starter once the coaching staff feels he’s ready to make the jump from collegiate star to NFL professional.
That’s before two more Jets rookies enter the fold — Warren and Laing.
Cajuste, Colon, Glaser, Pankey and Senat will all battle for the final roster spots on the NYJ O-line. The losers could at the very least find a place on the practice squad.