This offseason, the New York Jets brought in multiple undrafted free agents with high hopes for all of them. The list of UDFA the Jets signed included:
- WR Ryan Spadola (Lehigh),
- CB Mike Edwards (Hawaii)
- DT Spencer Nealy (Texas A&M)
- FS Rontez Miles (Cal of PA)
- TE Mike Shanahan (Pitt)
- TE Chris Pantale (Boston College)
- WR KJ Stroud (Bethune-Cookman)
- OG Mark Popek (South Florida)
- DT Jake McDonough (Iowa State)
- C Dalton Freeman (Clemson)
- WR Antavious Wilson (Marshall)
- DT Roosevelt Holliday (Eastern Illinois)
- OT Trey Gilleo (North Arizona)
- DE Troy Davis (UCF)
- WR Zach Rogers (Tennessee)
- P Alex Dunnachie (Hawaii)
Out of this long list of players, only the Lehigh-graduate Ryan Spadola found himself a spot on the Jets’ 53-man roster. Spadola has had a phenomenal preseason, catching 13 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. Spadola especially shined in the Jets third preseason game, catching 3 passes for a 110 yards, including a 70 yard touchdown grab. Although these preseason stats are impressive for an UDFA, when one looks at his stats from Lehigh one has to wonder why he even went undrafted in the first place. Not including Spadola’s freshman year, the former Mountain Hawk caught 231 passes for 3595 yards and 24 TDs. To put that into perspective, Spadola averaged 77 receptions a year for 1,198 yards and 8 touchdowns. Even more impressive is that Spadola averaged approximately 7 catches a game for 106 yards and 0.7 TDs over that span. His consistency was phenomenal, and his potential is just as impressive.
With Santonio Holmes and Vidal Hazelton both hurt, Spadola will likely be the Jets number 4 receiver at the start of the season, behind Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, and Stephen Hill. Because the Jets lack a plethora of able bodies in their receiving core, look for Spadola to possibly make an impact early on in the season.
Unfortunately, while Spadola prepares for the regular season, all the other UDFAs the Jets signed will have to look for work somewhere else, possibly in a field of work other than football. While a few of them have earned a spot on the Jets practice squad (S Rontez Miles, LB/DE Troy Davis, and TE Chris Pantale), most of them will have to continue their lives elsewhere. One of the most disappointing cuts for the New York Jets was wide receiver Zach Rogers, and UDFA out of
Tennessee. Rogers was a phenomenal slot receiver, although his success in college was overshadowed by teammates Cordarrelle Patterson (1st Round Pick to the Vikings) and Justin Hunter (2nd Round Pick to the Titans). While Rogers impressed several Jets officials during training camp and practices, he failed to bring that performance onto the field. In the first preseason game, Rogers dropped a wide open pass, which is pretty much an automatic cut for UDFAs. However, because Rogers was so impressive at training camp the Jets refused to give up on him.
Unfortunately for Rogers, the former Volunteer choked in Gang Green’s preseason finale against the Eagles. After dropping yet another wide open pass, Rogers muffed a punt that if he had caught the Jets would have been able to run the clock out and win the game. Rogers finished the preseason with 9 catches and 91 yards, although it wasn’t enough to overcome his mistakes and he failed to make the 53-man roster, along with other receivers including Mohammed Massaquoi, Ben Obamanu, and others.
While we congratulate Spadola for making the Jets’ roster, we wish the best of luck to Zach Rogers and other young players who wish to continue their football career.