Roberts, one year removed from a three-year, $18 million contract extension, opened last season as a starter opposite Trumaine Johnson. On Thursday, the Jets released Johnson in another long-anticipated move.
The Jets faced a deadline on Roberts because $2 million of his $5 million base salary for 2020 would have become fully guaranteed Sunday, the fifth day of the league year. He was due to count $6 million against the cap, and that amount will be wiped from the Jets' books.
It leaves the Jets perilously thin at cornerback. In recent days, they re-signed nickelback Brian Poole and backup Arthur Maulet, but they are in dire need of a talent infusion on the outside. Their top outside corners are Blessuan Austin and Nate Hairston.
Roberts, who showed promise as a hybrid corner-safety in 2018, was handed a starting job last year but struggled in coverage. He played in 13 games, starting 10, and finished with one interception and 61 tackles. He also committed eight penalties.
Addressing depth in their secondary, the Jets signed former Los Angeles Rams safety Marqui Christian, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Christian was a core special-teams player in his four seasons with the Rams. He played one season under Gregg Williams, who is currently the Jets' defensive coordinator.