The Jets have parted ways with Kelechi Osemele, releasing the eighth-year left guard Saturday afternoon.
Osemele and the Jets have been at odds over a right shoulder injury that team doctors believed was a preexisting condition that he could play through. Team doctors didn’t believe Osemele needed surgery at this time, and an independent second doctor had similar findings.
Osemele, however, said this past week that he had a third opinion on his shoulder and that surgery was recommended. He said the third doctor told him he has a labrum that’s “torn to the bone” and a huge cyst that needed immediate attention.
ESPN reported Saturday that the damage to Osemele’s shoulder was more serious than first thought and that Osemele’s representatives and the NFLPA are considering action against the Jets’ team doctors for violating state medical board regulations.
The NFLPA issued a statement Thursday in support of Osemele and filed a grievance against the Jets for failing to authorize the surgery.
Osemele said Wednesday that he planned to have shoulder surgery Friday, and his agent, Andrew Kessler, confirmed Friday that his client was having surgery. The Jets did not authorize the surgery.
“I’m just getting it done myself,” Osemele said in the Jets’ locker room on Wednesday. “I have to take care of my body, I have to take care of my health. I have a family. I have to take care of myself.”
Osemele had said that he was “absolutely, 100 percent” sure that the Jets would cut him.
The dispute escalated Friday when a source familiar with the situation said Osemele wasn’t at the team’s training complex and the Jets considered it an unexcused absence. The source said the team had been informed that was Osemele’s intention.
The Jets began fining Osemele, who played the first three games of the season, last week for failure to practice. He was fined the maximum amount — one game check or roughly $579,000 — for “conduct detrimental to the team” for every day he missed practice.
Kessler said in a statement released Saturday, “They owe him the balance of his contract both under the standard injury guarantee provision of the player contract and under termination pay, we will pursue through that and all fines to be rescinded through grievances.”
Jets coach Adam Gase would not address the situation on Thursday, saying his focus was on getting his team ready to play the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday.
“You have to ask those guys,” Gase said, referring to the Jets’ front office. “I haven’t been involved in this. My job is to coach the team.”
The Jets acquired Osemele, an All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler, in March from Oakland for fifth- and sixth-round draft picks. He was making $10.2 million this season and was scheduled to earn $11.7 million in 2020, but the money wasn’t guaranteed.
The Jets activated linebacker James Burgess from the practice squad and signed linebacker Ukeme Eligwe in corresponding moves Saturday.