NEW YORK (AP) – The Jets are running out of locker room leaders on offense. Veteran fullback Tony Richardson was released by New York on Sunday, the most surprising of a series of roster moves a day after the team got down to the mandatory 53-player limit. The Jets also waived wide receiver David Clowney and running back Chauncey Washington, and claimed wide receiver Patrick Turner (Miami), a former college teammate of quarterback Mark Sanchez, as well as offensive tackle Patrick Brown (Minnesota) and defensive tackle Marcus Dixon (Dallas). The move to get rid of the 38-year-old Richardson was particularly stunning because coach Rex Ryan repeatedly said the team would go with two fullbacks to help the Jets’ run-heavy offense. Richardson was also routinely praised as one of the lone leaders on a young unit, with Ryan even stating his case to general manager Mike Tannenbaum to keep the fullback on the last episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” “Each season, there are difficult choices when constructing the 53-man roster and this year is no exception,” Tannenbaum said in a statement. “We appreciate Tony’s contributions and leadership over the past two seasons and have nothing but the highest respect for him as a person and as a player.”Richardson’s release had already struck a nerve with his now-former teammates. “Shout out to Tony Richardson,” right tackle Damien Woody wrote on his Twitter page. “One of the classiest dudes ever! U will be missed!!!” The fullback job now goes to fifth-round pick John Conner, whose bone-rattling hits have made him a favorite of Ryan’s and helped earn him the nickname, “The Terminator,” while at the University of Kentucky. There is still a chance Richardson could return after Week 1, when his salary of $855,000 wouldn’t be guaranteed for the entire season. The Jets floated out a similar possibility last week when they cut wide receiver Laveranues Coles. Despite having a new stadium, instituting a personal seat license program and working in an uncapped year, the Jets have made several cost-cutting moves with their personnel since last season. New York cut running back Thomas Jones and left guard Alan Faneca, traded versatile running back Leon Washington and did not re-sign reliable kicker Jay Feely or long snapper James Dearth since March. The Jets are also still waiting on All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, mired in a 36-day holdout while he seeks to become the highest-paid player at his position. There have been no indications from either side that the negotiations are any closer to being resolved even as the Jets prepare to open the season next Monday night against Baltimore. While the uncertainty of the league’s labor situation for next season has factored into the decisions, Ryan has openly said the offense needs leadership. Getting rid of Richardson, who was entering his third season with the Jets, will only exacerbate that need.
Clowney was on the bubble the entire summer, but appeared safe when he was part of the 53-man roster Saturday night. Tannenbaum even said the team was “moving forward with him.” Less than 24 hours later, Clowney was an ex-Jet. He caught 15 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown in 15 games with New York. Chauncey Washington had an impressive training camp, showing he can both run the ball and hit hard while covering on kickoffs. He was signed off Dallas’ practice squad in December. Turner was a third-round draft pick out of Southern California by Miami last year, and appeared in two games on special teams last season with the Dolphins. Brown signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida last year. He later spent time on New England’s practice squad before spending the rest of the season with Minnesota. Dixon, an undrafted free agent from Hampton, spent his first two NFL seasons with Dallas.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)