The Jets have signed George Atkinson III, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). Atkinson, a running back by trade, has gotten just seven carries in his professional career. He has been deployed more frequently as a punt returner, seeing action in 2014 with the Raiders and 2016 with the Browns (his seven carries came with Cleveland). He did not log any regular season snaps last year, though he spent some time on the Chiefs’ practice squad.
Atkinson will presumably operate as a temporary replacement for running back Elijah McGuire. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter), McGuire will undergo surgery on his broken foot and will be sidelined for three to six weeks. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets that the team will have to decide whether it wants to carry McGuire on the 53-man roster or place him on short-term IR.
In the wake of McGuire’s injury, Gang Green quickly set up visits with free agent running backs Orleans Darkwa and Alfred Morris yesterday, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted earlier this morning that the Jets were not expected to immediately sign either player, and the Atkinson signing seems to foreclose the addition of Darkwa or Morris. Cimini notes that the Jets also worked out running back Tion Green (Twitter link).
Darkwa, Morris, and even Green have more experience as an NFL running back than Atkinson, so perhaps the fact that the Jets signed Atkinson suggests that they expect McGuire to be back sooner rather than later. McGuire, a 2017 sixth-rounder, is a player that the Jets have high hopes for, and assuming he gets healthy, he should see his fair share of snaps, even with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell also under contract.
To make room for Atkinson, the Jets cut TE Bucky Hodges.
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