FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — One day after coach Adam Gase’s public criticism of the team, the New York Jets traded for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and changed kickers for the third time since training camp — a mini-shake-up that sends a message to the locker room.
The Jets acquired Thomas from the New England Patriots for a 2021 sixth-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That the bitter rivals made a trade was stunning. It was a first for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who previously had executed a trade with every team except the Jets.
Thomas became expendable after New England signed wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Thomas, who tore his Achilles in December, was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 20. He had seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ preseason finale, which was his first game since the injury.
With Thomas out, the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart now features Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Dorsett reeled in two touchdowns on Sunday night, while Gordon caught one of his own. Meanwhile, Edelman led the team in receptions with six.
Gase was critical of his wide receivers after Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, telling reporters Monday that he wasn’t happy with their route running. He didn’t name names, but he was clearly unhappy with Robby Anderson.
Not surprisingly, the Jets waived kicker Kaare Vedvik and signed free agent Sam Ficken, who was cut recently by the Green Bay Packers. He will be their fourth kicker since the start of training camp.
Vedvik lasted only a week on the roster. He struggled in his NFL debut, missing an extra point and a 45-yard field goal. He replaced the ineffective Taylor Bertolet, who replaced Chandler Catanzaro, who retired abruptly after the second preseason game.
On Monday, Gase was fuming and sprayed criticism at several position groups on his roster. He was particularly angry with the receivers, saying, “We made some mistakes and they were fatal to us … They need to do a better job of executing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The passing game ran through slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who caught 14 passes for 99 yards. Anderson and Quincy Enunwa were held to a combined four catches. Gase exonerated quarterback Sam Darnold, who passed for only 175 yards, choosing to blame the receivers and offensive line.
Thomas will be new to New York, but he is familiar with Gase. He served as the Denver Broncos’ wide receivers coach from 2010 to 2013 and then as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2013 to ’14. Thomas spent the first nine years of his career in Denver.
The Jets will also welcome a veteran presence within their receiving corps. The 31-year-old Thomas is now the oldest wideout on the team ahead of Anderson (26), Joshua Bellamy (30), Braxton Berrios (23), Crowder (26) and Enunwa (27). Berrios was among the Patriots’ final cuts this season.
The Jets opted for Ficken after a morning tryout at their facility that consisted of five free-agent kickers. His only regular-season experience came in 2017 and 2018 with the Los Angeles Rams, but it was only four games. He made three of six field goals (a long of 34 yards) and was 14-for-15 on extra points.
Ficken attempted only one field goal for the Packers in the preseason (he made it), and was 5-for-5 on extra points.
On Monday, Gase expressed his frustration with the kicking carousel, saying, “What do you want me to do? We haven’t performed well. We’re going to try to figure out a way to fix it.”
The Jets’ kicking saga started in March, when they let Jason Myers — a Pro Bowl selection — leave via free agency. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks, who gave him a $5.5 million guarantee.
Information from ESPN’s Mike Reiss was used in this report.