Jets release quarterback Greg McElroy, keep Matt Simms

Jets quarterbacks Greg McElroy, left, and Matt Simms

Jets quarterbacks Greg McElroy, left, and Matt Simms practice during Day 2 of team minicamp. (June 12, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

Matt Simms' play has cost Greg McElroy his job.

The Jets -- who slashed their roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday's 6 p.m. deadline -- decided to release McElroy with an injury designation.

The move was a no-brainer, considering the third-year quarterback has been hobbled by knee and ankle injuries this preseason. But the biggest factor was the play of Simms, a first-year player who helped engineer back-to-back preseason wins against the Giants and Eagles.

McElroy, a seventh-round pick in 2011, had been vying with Simms for the No. 3 job behind Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. But Simms, without question, outplayed McElroy.

"Oh, I tell you what, this young man has really improved now. Oh my goodness," Rex Ryan said of Simms on a Friday conference call. "He always had that big arm and everything else. He clearly has the arm talent to play in the league, but quite honestly, I don't know if I've ever seen somebody make the improvements he's made."

The Jets have decided to keep four quarterbacks. In a surprise move, they retained Graham Harrell, whom they signed a day before their preseason finale against the Eagles on Thursday night. Though Ryan said this past week that they'd consider keeping four quarterbacks, it was widely assumed that Harrell's time in Florham Park would be short-lived.

The Jets also kept four running backs -- including Kahlil Bell, who scored the most touchdowns of any NFL running back (four) this preseason. Fellow running back Mossis Madu reached an injury settlement with the team because of a mild concussion.

Mike Goodson was moved from the active/non-football injury list to the reserve/suspended list and won't count against the active roster for the first four weeks of the season.

The Jets also announced late Saturday night that all seven of their draft picks made the cut (including offensive linemen Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell).

The team released recently signed offensive lineman Jason Smith, a former second-rounder who was on his second stint with the team, as well as veteran receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Ben Obomanu.

Another notable release was kicker Dan Carpenter, who was signed this past week after Billy Cundiff was cut. With Carpenter gone, incumbent Nick Folk reclaimed the starting job for a fourth straight season.

"When you get down to the final roster, you're letting a lot of guys go that played today and can really play," Ryan said after the Jets' Thursday night win over the Eagles. "As a coach, you want to keep everybody. There are a lot of guys we're going to let go that can be contributors for us.

"That's the tough part for any coach to go through. You know the commitment, work ethic, desire and passion they have to be a Jet, and when it's all said and done, something is not quite there. We'd like to keep everybody, but quite honestly, we just can't do that."

Rookie tight end Chris Pantale also was released but is a strong practice-squad candidate if he clears waivers, a source said.

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