The New York Jets have released guard Kelechi Osemele, the team announced on Saturday. Osemele has been out since Week 3 while nursing a shoulder injury, and earlier in the day his agents told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Osemele is considering taking action against the Jets' team doctor, alleging a violation of state medical board regulations.
Osemele had surgery on the shoulder on Friday, though the operation was done without approval from the team. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Osemele said that he has visited three different doctors and that each of them -- including the Jets' team doctor -- said that he needed to have surgery. He sent the full doctor's report from the third doctor to the Jets on Wednesday.
The Jets were said to believe that Osemele can play through the injury and that he did so during his time with the Oakland Raiders, as well as earlier this season. (He was traded from Oakland to New York this offseason.) Osemele claims that he initially sustained the injury during training camp this offseason and then re-aggravated it in Week 3.
The Jets had previously fined Osemele for conduct detrimental to the team after he refused to practice last week. Osemele filed a grievance against the team in response after learning that the Jets intended to fine him a game check -- $580,000 -- for each week he missed practice.
"Honestly, I haven't even been looking [at the fines]," Osemele said, per Mollie Walker of the New York Post. "I'm not even concerned about the money, right now I'm concerned about my health. Yes [it is a lot of money], but I've made a lot of money in my career. I'm not one of those people who does s--- for money at this point in my life. My health is important to me, it's really about that."
He also noted that he is in constant pain, which contributed to the decision to have surgery.
"It's been difficult," Osemele said, noting that he has not spoken to either Jets coach Adam Gase or Jets general manager Joe Douglas in several weeks. "You work your ass off, you know what I mean? You think that there's good faith, but I'm trying my best to do my pre-op work and show up every day and be at meetings and do everything I need to do. Control everything that I can control. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't frustrated to be in this position, considering what I've been able to accomplish in this league. And the type of player that I am, to be dealing with something like this is slightly disrespectful. It's outside of my control and I'm just trying to be positive."
Osemele had been under contract through the 2020 season, but only $500,000 of the remaining $21.9 million on his deal was guaranteed. With the Jets' decision to release him, they will gain $9.7 million in cap space this season in exchange for the $500K dead money charge. Osemele's fully non-guaranteed $11.7 million base salary will be off their 2020 books entirely. Now that he's been released, he will be free to sign with any other team, though he will presumably continue pursuing his grievance and potentially legal action against the Jets.