NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — John Idzik and the New York Jets thought it was simply time to cut ties with Dimitri Patterson.
Despite a thin secondary, the Jets cut the veteran cornerback Saturday in a move that capped a bizarre week involving a player the team had expected to be a starter.
“In the end, it just felt appropriate that we move on from Dimitri,” Idzik said during a conference call Monday. “I think that was the best thing for the Jets.”
Patterson was suspended last week by the team after the Jets said he went missing before the preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 22 without speaking to anyone in the organization.
Patterson later — in a statement through the media rather than the team — said the Jets’ claims were “completely false.” He added that agent Drew Rosenhaus was, in fact, in contact with the team for several hours before the game. Idzik, in the general manager’s first comments since cutting Patterson, said the organization sat down with him and gathered all the facts of the situation before ultimately deciding to part ways.
“We felt it wasn’t good for the team to go forward,” Idzik said. “Pure and simple.”
Idzik declined to offer details of Patterson’s explanation for his absence, and neither Patterson nor Rosenhaus have revealed any reasons.
“Well, we don’t operate too much on statements,” Idzik said. “I prefer direct communication. And that way, if something is quoted or something is said, especially in this information age where things can fly out pretty quickly or they’re segmented, you always like to hear it directly from, in this case, the player. That’s what we did.
“We heard him out and he heard us out and then we acted how we thought it was appropriate given the circumstances.”
When the Jets signed Patterson in April, the plan was that he would start opposite second-year cornerback Dee Milliner. With Patterson gone and Milliner still sidelined with a high ankle sprain and uncertain to play in the season opener against Oakland, the Jets are scrambling in the secondary.
Rex Ryan said “it’s still too early to tell” if Milliner will be ready, so there’s a possibility safety-turned cornerback Antonio Allen, recovering from a concussion, could be in the mix to start opposite Darrin Walls, usually a backup. The Jets have also made several moves at the cornerback spot over the last few days, including signing Phillip Adams, claiming Leon McFadden off waivers, and releasing Ellis Lankster and LeQuan Lewis, who was later re-signed to the practice squad.
Despite all the uncertainty, Ryan insisted there’s “no question” he’s comfortable with the group of cornerbacks with whom he’s entering the season.
“I think when this thing gets kicked up for real, we absolutely have no excuses,” he said. “We’ll line up and play. We feel good about the players that we do have, and, shoot, the great thing is we get to prove it, and it starts on Sunday in front our home crowd, so we will all get to see it.”
Given the way the Patterson situation played out, Idzik was asked if he regretted not signing a “legitimate” cornerback in the offseason, when more high-profile players such as Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and even Darrelle Revis were available.
“I would call Dimitri Patterson a legitimate cornerback,” Idzik said. “I mean, that’s why we signed him. We liked the player. We interviewed the player. We don’t look back. There’s no regret. Again, we’re in a people business and you really can’t anticipate some things that may happen.”
The Jets also had big plans for wide receiver Stephen Hill when they drafted him in the second round out of Georgia Tech in 2012. But Hill struggled with injuries and inconsistency, finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve. He was also cut Saturday, leading some to wonder if the Jets gave up on him too soon.
“I think we gave Stephen plenty of opportunity,” Ryan said. “He had more snaps than any receiver through camp. But at the end of the day, a lot goes into it.”
Such as being able to play a role on special teams, something Hill didn’t do while others such as Greg Salas, Jalen Saunders and Saalim Hakim did.
“We certainly didn’t give up on Stephen or anybody else,” Ryan said. “We provide the opportunity to make the team and some guys reached out and took it and other guys, it never worked out for yet.”
Hill’s agent Alan Herman criticized the Jets for not putting Hill in a good position to thrive, citing the unstable quarterback situations the last two seasons.
“Certainly, he has a right to his opinion, but, if anything, I believe that I do support all of our players,” Ryan said. “I understand it’s probably a difficult situation at the time and I certainly wish Stephen the best.
“I have skin like an armadillo. I’ll take whatever they throw at me.”
Hill reportedly had a workout with the Carolina Panthers on Monday.
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