Jets wide receiver Corey Davis announces he's stepping away from football

New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis (84) runs a route against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis announced Wednesday he is stepping away from football.

The 28-year-old Davis was entering his third season with the Jets after beginning his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

“I've been searching my heart for what to do,” Davis wrote on his Instagram page. “And I feel that stepping away from the game is the best path for me at this time.”

Davis did not use the word “retirement” in his statement, but he was placed by the Jets on the reserve/retired list — meaning New York retains his rights through this season, the final year of his contract.

“I have more blessings than I could have ever imagined,” Davis wrote. “I have an amazing family, a beautiful wife and two healthy children that I look forward to spending more time with.”

Davis had missed the last week of training camp practices because the wide receiver was “dealing with a personal matter,” coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday. But Saleh added he hoped Davis would be back with the team soon.

Davis, however, wrote he had been contemplating not playing “for some time now" and spent the past week figuring out his next step.

“My heart goes out to him and his family," Saleh said shortly after Davis' announcement. "We’ll always support him in any decision he makes. We’re always here if he needs us.”

Davis was projected to be part of a receiving corps for Aaron Rodgers that includes Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Randall Cobb. While Saleh said “the door is always open” for Davis if he wants to return, the Jets will move forward for now without him.

The team posted a graphic on its official website that included two pictures of the wide receiver in a Jets uniform and the words: “Thank You Corey Davis.”

"It was a true honor to have you on our team,” Jets chairman/owner Woody Johnson said in a statement.

“Corey Davis was a true professional on and off the field," added general manager Joe Douglas. “He was a great example to our young players of how to come to work every day and put in a complete and consistent day of work. We were fortunate to have him here.”

Davis was entering the final year of his three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Jets, and he was scheduled to make $10.5 million in base salary this season. There had been some speculation in the offseason Davis could be cut for salary cap savings, but Saleh regularly praised him for his leadership.

Davis’ production had been up and down with the Jets, marked by big plays at times and injuries that limited him to just 22 games in his two seasons with New York.

After tying a career high with 65 catches in 2020 for Tennessee with a personal-best 984 yards and five touchdowns, Davis had only 66 receptions the past two seasons.

Davis spoke last year about having trouble moving on from the death of his older brother Titus — a former NFL wide receiver who spent time with the Jets in 2015 and '16 — in November 2022. He said at the time the sorrow intensified after core muscle surgery ended his season following nine games in 2021.

“I mean, I lost my brother and my homie, my best friend, and I never really had time to breathe after that happened,” Davis said last year. "And I feel like this offseason was the first time I really, you know, kind of had the time to think about it and actually put him to rest.

“But it was tough. I got through it and I’m better because of it.”

In his six NFL seasons, Davis had 273 catches for 3,879 yards and 17 TDs.

“I am truly grateful for all the opportunities I have had and will continue to have on my journey,” Davis wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to my family and friends and the Jets organization for supporting me through this process.”