Robert Saleh is nonplussed by the public trade request made by Denzel Mims and said that the New York Jets are more than willing to move forward with the wide receiver on their roster.
“I don’t think it’s a locker room distraction … it’s a business part of it,” Saleh said Friday. “He’s one of our 53 best (players) … we’ve got to do what’s best for our organization and we have to find a way to make this work.”
Ron Slavin, Mims’ agent, released a statement Thursday stating, in part, that “it’s just time” for New York to trade the 2020 second-round pick because “it’s clear he doesn’t have a future with the Jets.”
That was followed by reports that the Jets would be happy to deal the enigmatic Mims, who caught only eight passes in 11 games last season after falling out of favor quickly with a new coaching staff.
Sources: The #Jets are open & plan to grant Denzel Mims’ trade request.
They will not, though, give him away. They believe Mims has talent & like their receiving unit with him on it.
Only way a trade happens is if #NYJ get what they believe is equal value.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 26, 2022
Reports surfaced Friday that the Carolina Panthers have a strong interest in acquiring Mims. Panthers coach Matt Rhule was head coach at Baylor from 2017-19 when Mims was a star receiver, including 66 receptions for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior.
Panthers have called about Jets WR Denzel Mims, per league sources. Mims had a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons for Matt Rhule at Baylor.
GM Scott Fitterer has said Panthers will be in on every deal. So Mims interest not surprising, esp. given his connection to Rhule. (1/2)
— Joe Person (@josephperson) August 26, 2022
But Saleh refused to get into trade talk. Instead he focused on finding a way for Mims, who’s fifth or sixth on the depth chart, to be a contributor with the Jets.
“It’s not over,” Saleh said. “I’m not going to say it’s over with him. … It’s just a matter of him finding his niche.”
As he has since OTAs, Saleh praised Mims for the hard work he has put in and how he has improved since last season. But he also pointed out that it’s a tough road for Mims to receive more playing time with Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson firmly entrenched as the Jets’ top three receivers.
“When you have a guy like Corey and Elijah and you draft Garrett Wilson, those guys are just going to get first dibs,” Saleh explained. It’s not a knock on [Mims]. He’s just part of a really good room, and I think that’s where you see the frustration because he has the desire to do more.”
Denzel Mims finds a hole in the defense for a big gain. @Zel5Zelly
📺: #ATLvsNYJ on ESPN
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/3fttuL9BM4 pic.twitter.com/iQMLBQci5h
— NFL (@NFL) August 23, 2022
Mims stated earlier during Jets training camp that he believed he should be a starter. He is tied for the team lead with five catches in the preseason, including a 27-yarder Monday against the Atlanta Falcons. Yet he has seen very little run with the starters this summer.
Despite the trade request, Mims attended meetings Friday and took part in practice. Saleh said Mims will play in the final preseason game Sunday against the New York Giants.
“He’s approaching it like the professional he is,” Saleh said.
Denzel Mims stretches before practice today: pic.twitter.com/rBvxmWnxtT
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) August 26, 2022
Mims has received increased opportunities on special teams during camp and in preseason games. The results have been mixed, and Mims was flagged for a holding on a punt return Monday.
“Is he where we want him to be from a special teams standpoint?” Saleh asked. “Right now he’s not. Has he got a lot better? Absolutely.”
But will he be on the 53-man roster for Week 1 as Saleh said he deserved to be? Or will Mims be wearing different colors on someone else’s roster?
Logic dictates the latter makes the most sense for all involved. But ultimately that’s up to Jets general manager Joe Douglas, and he’s not saying anything yet.