FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Robert Saleh is not ready to say goodbye to Denzel Mims.
At least not yet.
Despite the third-year wide receiver’s request Thursday to be traded by the New York Jets, Saleh said it remains “business as usual” with Mims after the two spoke Friday morning.
“It’s not over,” Saleh said. “I’m not going to say it’s over with him.”
Saleh, who has regularly praised Mims’ work ethic during the offseason and training camp, agreed it’s disappointing when a player doesn’t necessarily achieve to a level the team and player hope.
“You go into this and you’re trying to fight for all your guys and you’re trying to get them to where you want them to be,” Saleh said. “You just want to see these guys have success. All the individual players, you want them to have successful careers and achieve all their personal goals.
“With that said, I do think Denzel has done a great job — I’m standing by it. He’s had a really great OTAs and he’s done a really good job in training camp. It’s just a matter of him finding his niche and finding his role.”
That has been the issue, though, for Mims.
The 2020 second-round pick out of Baylor has just 31 catches for 490 yards and no touchdowns in 20 games over two seasons. He was no better than sixth on the team’s wide receiver depth chart in camp, behind Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith.
The Jets have also been trying to find Mims a role on special teams, an area where he has little experience.
“When you have a guy like Corey and Elijah, and you draft Garrett Wilson, those guys are just going to get first dibs,” Saleh said. “It’s not a knock on (Mims). He’s part of a really good room. And that’s why I think you see the frustration where he has a desire to do more, and I that’s why I think the events from yesterday from his agent happened.”
Mims practiced Friday and, almost fittingly, ended practice with an impressive catch in the end zone while working with the third-stringers — but was ruled out of bounds.
“It’s just time,” Mims’ agent Ron Slavin wrote in a statement Thursday officially requesting the trade. “Denzel has tried in good faith, but it is clear he does not have a future with the Jets.”
Mims dealt with hamstring issues as a rookie, a case of food poisoning that caused him to lose 20 pounds last offseason, a bout with COVID-19 last season and then saw his role in the offense dwindle to nearly nonexistent.
“I know he’s frustrated, as we’ve talked about before, that he’s not where he wants to be,” Saleh said, “but it doesn’t mean that he can’t get there. He just continues to grind.”
But Slavin said in his statement that Mims worked hard in the offseason to come back better than he has been in the pros. “Still, he has been given very few opportunities to work with the starting offense and get into a groove with them,” the agent wrote. “We feel at this point, a trade is our only option since the Jets have repeatedly told us they will not be releasing him.”
Slavin added that Jets general manager Joe Douglas “has always done right by Denzel and we trust that he will make every effort to find a new team where he can be a contributor.”
Mims should draw interest from teams because of his mixture of size — 6-foot-3, 207 pounds — and speed. Carolina could be a fit since head coach Matt Rhule coached Mims at Baylor and always spoke glowingly of the wide receiver.
Saleh insisted he didn’t anticipate there being a locker room issue if Mims is not granted his request and remains with the Jets.
“He’s one of our 53 best and this is the business part of it,” Saleh said. “In my heart, and I think if you look at Denzel, it’s not, ‘I don’t want to be part of New York.’ It’s not, ‘I don’t like my locker room, I don’t like my teammates, I don’t like my coaches. It’s, ‘I want more,’ which is understandable.
“But at the same time, not to speak for Joe, but all of us from a decision-making standpoint, we’ve got to do what’s best for the organization. And he’s one of our better players and we’ve got to find a way to make this work.”
NOTES: CB D.J. Reed (right knee soreness) sat out practice after leaving the joint session with the Giants on Thursday. Saleh said the team is not concerned. … CB Bryce Hall also sat out with foot soreness.
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