The timing of the release is surprising because general manager Joe Douglas said recently that Winters would be given an opportunity to go to training camp and compete for the starting job.
Winters was due to make a non-guaranteed $7.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $29 million contract. There will be no cap hit for the Jets; the entire $7.3 million comes off the books.
The Jets overhauled their offensive line in the offseason, including signing guard Greg Van Roten to a three-year contract. Van Roten is expected to be the team’s starter at right guard this season. The Jets also re-signed starting left guard Alex Lewis and signed center Connor McGovern and tackle George Fant to multiyear contracts. In addition, the Jets used their first-round draft pick (11th overall) on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
A starter since his rookie year in 2013, Winters suffered a shoulder injury last training camp but started the regular season in his familiar right guard position and lasted nine games before succumbing to the pain. He underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve.
Winters, 29, is known for his toughness. In 2017, he missed only three games despite an abdominal tear, which required surgery after the season. The following year, he didn’t miss a single snap on offense.
He entered the league in 2013 as a third-round pick out of Kent State. He was second to running back Bilal Powell as the longest-tenured Jets on the 2019 team. Winters has appeared in 89 games, including 79 starts, over nine seasons.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini contributed to this report.