NEW YORK – Laveranues Coles' third tour with the Jets ended before it really got started. Now, the popular wide receiver's career could be over.
Unless, of course, New York brings him back a fourth time.
Coles was released Sunday, a month after the Jets brought him back to add depth at the wide receiver spot. The 32-year-old Coles had four catches for 19 yards in three preseason games.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said it's "a real possibility" the team could re-sign Coles after the first week of the season.
"He did an outstanding job for us," Ryan said. "He's a leader. He came in here and I know he knows the system. He's tougher than nails. He's a great teammate."
After signing him to a one-year, $855,000 deal in July, that money would've been guaranteed if he made the opening-day roster. It would not be guaranteed if he's re-signed after Week 1.
"There's a lot of players in the league that you're going to see be released and won't play that first game and will be on active rosters in Week 2," Ryan said.
That means Coles is now free to sign with any team, but he insisted throughout training camp that this would be the last stop of his playing career. He reiterated that as recently as last week, but Coles also said he was encouraged that he could still play.
"I've still got a little gas in the tank, I can tell you that much," Coles said Tuesday.
The Jets also waived wide receivers Aundrae Allison and Marcus Henry, and defensive lineman Rodrique Wright, putting the team at 75 players ahead of Tuesday's mandatory cutdown.
Coles was looking forward to playing in the team's fourth preseason game at Philadelphia on Thursday, where he expected to get significant playing time.
"That last game, if things shake loose and I'm able to get down the field and run some routes," Coles said, "I think being able to turn on the film and look at myself will speak volumes."
The Jets brought him back after one season with Cincinnati to help fill in while Santonio Holmes sits out a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Both he and Ryan acknowledged that he could be cut after Holmes returned. Turns out, Coles was released a lot sooner.
"This is it," Coles said after the Jets' first training camp practice earlier this month. "This is the last hurrah. The boat stops here, trust me."
Coles, who was entering his 11th season, signed a one-year contract with the team he began his career with in 2000. He signed with Washington after three seasons with New York, but was traded back to the Jets for Santana Moss two years later. Coles was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent last offseason, and signed with Cincinnati.
He struggled in his one season with the Bengals, who released him in March.
Coles has 674 catches for 8,609 yards and 49 touchdowns, and ranks fourth in Jets history — behind Don Maynard (627), Wayne Chrebet (580) and Al Toon (517) — with 459 catches.
Henry was a sixth-round pick out of Kansas in 2008, and spent most of the last two seasons on the Jets' practice squad.
Allison was claimed off waivers from Minnesota last summer, but missed the entire season after injuring his right knee in the preseason finale.
Wright was signed as a free agent in March after sitting out last year following three seasons with Miami.