FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Frustrated with his lack of opportunities, New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims — a 2020 second-round draft pick — informed the team Thursday that he wants to be traded, his agent said in a statement.
This had been building for weeks. Mims’ agent, Ron Slavin, met Aug. 6 with general manager Joe Douglas to express concerns. Mims also has shared strong feelings with coach Robert Saleh in private meetings at training camp, sources said.
“It’s just time,” Slavin said. “Denzel has tried in good faith, but it is clear he does not have a future with the Jets. Denzel vowed to come back better than ever this season and he worked extremely hard in the offseason to make that happen. Still, he has been given very few opportunities to work with the starting offense and get into a groove with them.
“We feel at this point a trade is our only option since the Jets have repeatedly told us they will not be releasing him. Joe Douglas has always done right by Denzel and we trust that he will make every effort to find him a new home where he can be a contributor.”
Saleh, who spoke with Mims on Friday morning, didn’t rule out the possibility of keeping him because “he’s one of our better players and we’ve got to find a way to make this work.” He also didn’t dismiss a trade.
“You love his competitive nature in the fact that he feels like one of those best three [outside receivers] and he should be on the field and he wants those reps,” Saleh said. “I respect the heck out of it and I want him to keep fighting for that because you want that competition. The balance is understanding who we are as a football team and making the decisions that are best for the football team and this organization, and own your role and dominate your role until the opportunities come.”
Saleh also wouldn’t criticize Mims for wanting out.
“When you have a guys like Corey [Davis] and Elijah [Moore] and you draft Garrett Wilson, those guys are just going to get first dibs,” Saleh said. “It’s not a knock on [Mims]. He’s part of a really good room. That’s why I think you see the frustration.”
It has been a rocky run for Mims with the Jets.
After showing promise as a rookie under the previous coaching staff (23 catches for 357 yards in nine games), Mims has been riding the bench. He has battled illnesses and injuries, but he also hasn’t been embraced by the current staff, which wanted him to improve his grasp of the playbook.
He played only 11 games last season and finished with just eight catches for 133 yards. He has yet to score an NFL touchdown. The Jets said he came to training camp with a renewed commitment, yet he has been relegated to second- and third-team duty.
In the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mims was the seventh receiver to get in the game. He’s tied for the team lead in preseason receptions (five catches for 68 yards), but he also has a drop and a pre-snap penalty.
Just recently, Mims made it clear he deserves a starting position, saying, “I show it every day, so it’s up to them if they want to play me or not. But I show every day what I can do. I’m going to continue to do that.”
Saleh said recently that Mims is “a lot farther along than he was a year ago,” but he’s no better than sixth on the depth chart. Ahead of him are Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, rookie Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith, a strong special teams player.
Since drafting Mims, who was a big-play receiver at Baylor, the Jets have used a first-round pick on Wilson and a second-round pick on Moore — strong indications that Mims doesn’t figure in their long-term future. Teams have expressed interested in Mims over the past year, sources said, but the Jets never have expressed a willingness to trade him. Maybe that will change now.