Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Leger Douzable, Willie Colon, Ben Ijalana, Tanner Purdum), they chose not to bring everyone back. Since preseason, we've been keeping track of the progress on all the guys from the 2014 or 2015 roster that are now playing elsewhere and now that the season is over, we can wrap things up, continuing today with defensive players.
Some stats from PFF have been used in this article and throughout the series.
CB Kyle Wilson - Saints
Wilson - who might not even have made the roster if not for preseason injuries - actually held up pretty well until midseason, but was victimized as his playing time increased down the stretch. In the end, the quarterback rating against him when targeted was a career-worst 118.9 and he also had the highest numbers of his career for touchdown passes given up (four) and penalties (six).
DT Kenrick Ellis - Giants/Vikings
Ellis was a surprise cut for the Giants in preseason; one they probably regretted in hindsight. He eventually found his way onto the Vikings and played 89 snaps where he didn't make a major impact but still did a solid job in a rotational role. His contract expired at the end of the season.
LB Nick Bellore - 49ers
Bellore, predictably, was an asset for the 49ers on special teams, racking up 15 tackles. That number was surpassed by just five other players in the NFL this season. He played a total of six snaps on defense, despite showcasing some versatility by playing on the outside in preseason.
CB Phillip Adams - Falcons
Adams played a pretty major role with Atlanta, starting three games and playing a total of 435 snaps. He held up pretty well and didn't give up a touchdown all season. Adams ended the season with 38 tackles, four passes defensed and one interception, but was penalized four times. He also made contributions on special teams.
CB Josh Thomas - Vikings/Colts/Cowboys
Thomas - who was critical of the Jets' coaching staff last year - saw some early season action as an emergency signing for the Colts, but when their injury crisis abated, his playing time dried up and he was eventually released. He had actually played well, with just one catch given up on seven targets. At the end of the season, he was picked up by Dallas for the last game, but didn't see any action.
OLB IK Enemkpali - Bills
After having been suspended for the first month of the season, Enemkpali moved into a rotational role with the Bills. Remarkably, in 149 snaps, he didn't record a single pressure. He had 13 tackles and gave up a touchdown pass in coverage.
S Josh Bush - Broncos/Bills
Bush just won a Super Bowl ring, playing a key role for the Broncos down the stretch. He played over 350 snaps from week 13 onwards, including 24 in the Super Bowl last night. However, it wasn't all plain sailing for Bush who was released by the Broncos early in the season and - after a short stay in Buffalo - only returned to the team when there was an injury crisis in the secondary. He had 13 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble during the regular season and had six tackles and a pass defensed in the playoffs.
CB Leon McFadden - 49ers/Cardinals/Giants
After spending preseason with San Francisco and then a short period of time on Arizona's practice squad, McFadden signed with the Giants and saw action on special teams in a couple of games. He ended up the season on their practice squad and has since signed a futures deal for next year.
LB Jeremiah George - Jaguars/Bucs
After leaving the Jaguars at the end of preseason, George would spend the season in Tampa. There, he played just one defensive snap in week 16, although he did stuff a run on that play. George also added six special teams tackles.
CB Brandon Dixon - Bucs/Colts/Seahawks/Patriots/Saints
Despite spending time with five different teams this season, Dixon was stuck on practice squads all year and never made it onto an active roster.
OLB Jason Babin - Ravens/Cardinals
Babin was released by Baltimore early in the season because he kept jumping offsides. In total, he had three penalties and just two pressures in 30 snaps with the Ravens. He got a second chance with Arizona late in the season, but played just one defensive snap in the postseason.
S Durell Eskridge - Cardinals
Eskridge finished up the year on the Cardinals' practice squad after they had picked him up around midseason and has signed a futures deal with them since the end of the year.
DL Kerry Hyder - Lions
Hyder spent the season on the Lions' practice squad until he was activated for the season finale. He played two defensive snaps and is now under contract with them for next year.
WR/CB/S Saalim Hakim - Lions/Chiefs
Hakim saw action in two games with Kansas City, who used him at safety for four snaps and as a gunner on special teams. He remains listed as a safety for them.
ILB Joe Mays - San Diego
Mays signed with the Chargers in October, but his contract is up at the end of the season. He saw action on defense in two games, playing a total of 18 snaps and recording one pressure and one tackle. He also had three tackles on special teams.
DB Ras-i Dowling - Raiders/Panthers
Dowling failed to make the Raiders and was a late-season addition to Carolina's practice squad. He almost won a Super Bowl ring despite never having made it to their active roster. He's currently being listed as a safety.
DE Quinton Coples - Dolphins
Coples made five appearances with Miami, playing exclusively as a rotational edge defender and grading out well over those five games. He recorded five pressures in 45 pass rush attempts with Miami but was inactive for the last game.
DL Quanterus Smith - Jaguars
Smith was on the Jets' practice squad for three weeks during the season but Jacksonville picked him up for their practice squad when the Jets let him go.
DT TJ Barnes - Bills
The Jets put Barnes on their practice squad late in the season and Rex Ryan's Bills pounced, poaching him for their active roster. He played 26 snaps in four appearances for them down the stretch, recording one tackle.
CB Jeremy Harris - Washington
After a three-week spell on the Jets' practice squad, the Jets let Harris go and he signed with Washington right at the end of the season. He played 39 snaps in their season finale and held up well, surrendering two catches for 29 yards on four targets.
CB Dashaun Phillips - Washington
Phillips, who was injured in preseason, also found his way onto Washington's roster at the end of the year and saw action in the season finale (on his birthday). He made a good open field tackle on his only target but suffered a scary-looking neck injury. Thankfully, it turned out just to be a severe stinger.
CB Keon Lyn - Bucs
Lyn saw time with the Jets in preseason, but was suffering from a thumb injury. He did find his way onto Tampa's practice squad in October, but lasted just over a week there.
DL Jordan Williams - Dolphins
Williams spent time on Miami's practice squad before being activated near the end of the season. He played four snaps against the Ravens in week 13.
CB Keith Lewis - Chargers/Chiefs
Lewis spent a lot of time on the Chargers' practice squad but signed a futures deal with Kansas City instead after the season.
DB/KR Javier Arenas - Bills
After Arenas - a late addition in camp - almost made the Jets roster, he would spend the entire year out of the league. Arenas signed a futures deal with the Bills last week though.
DE/OLB Zach Thompson - Ravens
Thompson suffered a head injury in preseason and was placed on injured reserve. He was released from injured reserve in December.
Played elsewhere in preseason, but weren't on a roster or practice squad in 2015
DL Tevita Finau (Texans)
CB Lowell Rose (Chargers)
CB Ellis Lankster (Bills)
LB Chris Young (Saints)
LB Troy Davis (Cowboys)
DB Brandon Smith (Cowboys)