FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Disgruntled wide receiver Elijah Moore will sit out the New York Jets’ game Sunday against the Denver Broncos after requesting to be traded amid frustration over his lack of playmaking opportunities.
Coach Robert Saleh said Friday “trading him is not an option,” but Moore will not be with the team in Denver as the Jets — at 4-2 and off to their best start since 2015 — look for a fourth straight victory.
Moore, a second-round pick out of Mississippi who had 43 catches as a rookie last year, will go through workouts with trainers over the next few days and rejoin the team Monday.
“In my view, whether we agree or not, it doesn’t matter, but to ask him to play a football game with where he is from a mental standpoint wouldn’t be fair to him,” said Saleh, who insisted Moore wasn’t being punished by the team. “That’s strictly my decision.”
On Thursday, Saleh said Moore was excused from practice by the team to be with his family to attend to a personal matter. The wide receiver spent the day away from the facility and then asked to be dealt.
Moore is coming off a promising rookie season during which he caught 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games, including six starts. But he has just 16 catches for 203 yards and no scores in six games — all starts — while working in an offense that has focused more on running the ball in recent weeks.
“For me, knowing the individual and know what he wants, he wants to contribute,” Saleh said. “He’s a competitive kid. He’s a competitive man. He feels like he can do more within the offense to help us across the board. And to me, that’s admirable. You want your guys to have that confidence in themselves where they know that they can do more for the offense.”
But for a team that is having success for the first time in several years and has preached a “Positive Vibes Only” mantra, there are questions as to whether Moore’s actions could potentially serve as a distraction.
“Our locker room’s fine, it’s rock solid,” Saleh said. “We all love Elijah. We all understand the business aspect of it. We all know where his heart is, we all know the character we drafted. Elijah’s a great kid. He is. He works his tail off, does everything that’s asked of him. And whether or not people can get out of whack, that’s probably more of a conversation for him.
“But he is a very high-character individual and I get that this can look bad, but it is part of it and part of what we go through in this business.”
Moore became the second Jets wide receiver to request a trade after Denzel Mims, a 2020 second-rounder, did so during training camp. But as is the case with Moore, the team has no plans to deal him.
And in a twist, with Moore not playing Sunday, Mims will be active for the first time this season.
“He has prepared himself to play and he’s going to get his opportunity,” Saleh said.
Moore created some buzz Sunday on social media after New York’s 27-10 victory at Green Bay when he quote-tweeted a reporter’s post that pointed out he had no official receiving targets in the game. He actually had one on a deep incompletion in the second quarter, but it was negated by a penalty.
“If I say what I really wanna say…I’ll be the selfish guy…we winning,” Moore said in the since-deleted post. “Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. Butter sweet for me em but I’ll be solid. So I’ll just stay quiet.
“Just know I don’t understand either.”
On Monday, Saleh said he spoke to Moore, and it appeared the issue was mostly settled. But in the first of three posts on Twitter on Thursday, Moore said: “Love my teammates!” That was followed by: “When someone tell u how they feel the first time BELIEVE THEM!” The final tweet read: “God I need direction.”
All the tweets have since been deleted. Earlier Thursday, Moore also tweeted: “God makes no mistakes….I trust u through it Allllllll…”
Saleh on Friday reiterated Moore “is not a bad kid,” and the Jets have high hopes for him.
“He’s going to be a great football player in this league for a long time,” the coach said. “And it’s just a matter of just being able to stack together a couple of good days.”
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL