Three years is usually all a head coach receives to prove he should keep his job in the NFL. That, and an additional offseason, is all the New York Jets gave cornerback Dee Milliner. New York cut the former top 10 pick on Sunday.
Milliner cleared waivers and actually landed back with the Jets, but on injured reserve, according to NJ.com. Because the team placed the cornerback on the IR before 4 pm Sunday, he will not be eligible to return, which all but ends his tenure with the Jets.
Regardless of his placement on the IR, the Jets will still pay him $4.028 million this season. It’s possible Milliner and the team could come to an injury settlement, which would make him a free agent during the season. If that doesn’t happen, the Jets will likely let Milliner walk and become a free agent next March.
With the way he’s played over the last three years, his release can’t be all that much of a surprise, but it’s certainly a disappointment nonetheless.
In 2013, the Jets had a pair of first-round selections and with the team just trading All-Pro Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York was looking for his replacement. Milliner was the consensus top corner in that draft class, so the Jets selected him at No. 9.
He showed then head coach Rex Ryan enough to become a starter in his rookie season. Milliner had extreme growing pains early in 2013, but by December, he appeared to be fulfilling his potential. He started 12 games his rookie season, making 56 total tackles, deflecting 15 passes and recording three interceptions.
However, for unexplained reasons, he wasn’t the same cornerback the following season. His man coverage skills diminished, and he wasn’t the same playmaker. Injuries over the summer in 2014 could have played a huge part.
Either way, Ryan and general manager John Idzik were fired, which only made things worse for the former first-round selection. He became an afterthought last offseason, as the Jets signed veteran cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams, pushing Milliner down the depth chart.
Over the last two years, Milliner has appeared in just eight games, starting only two of them. He missed 27 out of 48 games during his three years with the team due to multiple injuries.
His release was a necessary move, and general manager Mike Maccagnan, along with coach Todd Bowles, can easily point the finger and blame the previous regime — which drafted Milliner so high. That doesn’t make it any easier for a fan base to come to grips with the fact that their team missed on a top 10 pick, though.
Also Sunday, the Jets released 2014 second-round pick, tight end Jace Amaro. Injuries plagued his tenure in New York too, as he missed the entire 2015 season. But when he was on the field in 2014 and then this summer, he vastly underachieved.
Additionally, the Jets parted ways with first-round pick from 2012, defensive end Quinton Coples, back at the beginning of this offseason. That means dating back to 2012, five of the team’s 11 first and second round picks are either not on the team anymore or on the IR to begin 2016. And two of the six who are still on the active roster are backup quarterbacks, Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg.
It’s hard to build a championship caliber team — especially one to compete with New England in the AFC East — while hitting on such a low percentage of first and second round selections. Milliner’s release over the weekend reminded us just how badly the Jets missed on that No. 9 pick.