5 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make New York Jets' Final 53-Man Roster

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5 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make New York Jets' Final 53-Man Roster
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Former Eagles' UDFA Austin Howard (left) could score a multi-million dollar payday in 2014.

Let's not speculate about which players might be legitimate dark-horse candidates to make the New York Jets' 53-man roster in 2013 without reviewing a recent success story. After all, such a candidate not only made the team in 2012, he became a starter.

In early July 2012, third-year lineman Austin Howard was the New York Jetsthird-string left tackle behind D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Stephon Heyer, according to Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services. Had things stayed that way through training camp, the odds of Howard making the 53-man roster would have been slim.

On the other side of center, Wayne Hunter began that July as the starting right tackle with Vladimir Ducasse as his backup. However, things would soon turn in Howard’s favor. Near the end of the month, Howard became Hunter’s backup. Ducasse moved to left guard behind starter Matt Slauson.

Howard’s ascension became complete when the Jets announced his promotion to starter at Hunter’s expense. They subsequently traded Hunter to the St. Louis Rams for reserve tackle Jason Smith.

In 2012, Howard earned $548,120. He became a restricted free agent in 2013 and accepted the Jets’ second-round tender. That means he’ll earn $2.023 million for playing the 2013 season and could enjoy a bigger payday as an unrestricted free agent in 2014.

That was a “dark-horse candidate” success story from 2012. It’s time to look at some possibilities for 2013. Let’s meet them.


The source for general information about New York Jets' undrafted free agents (UDFAs) is Randy Lange's post "Snapshots of the 15 Undrafted Free Agents" on the New York Jets' website. Additional information pertinent to this slideshow was courtesy of Pro Sports Transactions, New York Jets Salary Cap and Spotrac unless noted otherwise.

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