Two of the financial decisions the Jets will have to make this off-season will be how much they are willing to invest in bringing veterans Shaun Ellis and Damien Woody back. In both cases, the team shouldn’t hesitate to spend a little extra money to get another year or potentially two out of both players.
The 34 year old Ellis has spent his entire 11 year career with the Jets and you have to think he would like to finish his career where he started it. He approached the team to rework his deal last year and was denied but hopefully this off-season they could find a reasonable middle ground to get him back for a year or two as a mentor for rookie Muhammad Wilkerson. He put together another productive season last year with 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks and also had arguably the best performance of his career in the Jets divisional round upset of the Patriots. Trevor Pryce would be a cheaper option but isn’t as effective and had injury issues last season.
It would help Wilkerson reach his true potential if he had a season to learn behind Ellis, who is a very good 3-4 end against both the run and pass, and also remains one of the leaders in the locker room. Wilkerson wouldn’t immediately be forced into a starting role and could work up as a rotational player until eventually taking over.
As for Woody, it is too risky to now ask second year player Vladimir Ducasse to take over at right tackle considering he hasn’t the chance to work with any of the coaches in the off-season. They could bring Wayne Hunter back as veteran insurance but Woody is a better overall player and has good chemistry with the rest of the line. He likely won’t have high contract demands and bringing him back for at least one more season, gives Ducasse time to learn a new position behind a quality, proven veteran.
The money spent on getting Ellis and Woody back for 2011 doesn’t just improve the Jets depth and talent at defensive end and right tackle respectively, it will also help young players like Wilkerson and Ducasse by giving them more time to get acclimated behind veterans.
Jason Taylor has made it clear that he is interested in playing another year with the New York Jets. The question is now, should the Jets consider re-signing him to a low-cost one year deal to improve their depth at linebacker?
Overall, Taylor was pretty good for the team last season. As primarily a rotational player, he finished with 36 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He made a handful of incredibly clutch plays that had a large hand in helping the team pull out a few victories, most notably a strip sack of Tom Brady in week 2, a safety against Pittsburgh in week 15, and a big overtime sack against Cleveland in week 10.
On the cheap, the Jets could do much worse than bringing Taylor back as their fifth linebacker. He is a better option than a free agent like Matt Roth and is more proven than a younger player like Jamaal Westerman.
If they decide against bringing him back, it will indicate the coaching staff and front office thinks he is done, as evidenced by a weak showing in the playoffs or that they are confident in a young player like Westerman stepping up. There isn’t really a better pass rushing option on the free agent market, considering the Jets will only be looking for a rotational player.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back on a one year deal and the Jets address outside linebacker in next year’s draft or in free agency before the 2012 season. The depth at linebacker right now is a cause for concern and Taylor is comfortable in the system and is a proven veteran performer.
Two of the more contentious debates among Jets fans this off-season is whether to focus on keeping Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes at wide receiver and if the team can afford to let Antonio Cromartie leave via free agency because of the presence of Kyle Wilson. Personally, I have came down on the side of signing Holmes over Edwards and that bringing Cromartie back is a must.
This isn’t an indictment on the type of year Edwards had in 2010 and Wilson’s future as a NFL cornerback. Edwards was terrific for the Jets last year and you could make a very reasonable argument that he was more consistent than Holmes. Wilson is only entering his second year and still has plenty of potential to develop into a quality starter in this league.
However, looking at the Jets roster and considering they are ready to win a Super Bowl right now, consider the following…
Holmes is a more explosive playmaker and one of the most clutch players in the league. There is a reason for the general consensus that Holmes is a better player than Edwards and every report this off-season has the team prioritizing Holmes first: he is a better all-around wide receiver than Edwards. If the Jets end up being unable to afford Holmes and get Edwards back instead, would it be the end of the world? Of course not, the gap isn’t that substantial but the first priority should be Holmes. You can’t pass up giving your young quarterback a receiver that can change the game at any second the way he can.
In terms of cornerback, the Jets defense is built on primarily man to man coverage. They have a pass rush that struggles to get to the quarterback unless a blitz package is set up. It is too risky to hand a starting job to Wilson after the difficulties he encountered his rookie season, period. At a minimum you have to bring in another veteran to compete with him and provide better depth if Cromartie walks. You can’t allow yourself to be a pulled Revis hamstring away from Wilson and Drew Coleman (if he is even back) being your starting pair of corners.
Considering how much the Jets use three corners, it isn’t “giving up” on Kyle Wilson by asking him to be the nickel behind Revis and Cromartie, who I think is worth money considering how well he fits in the Jets man to man scheme.
In the end, I am a big fan of Braylon Edwards and what he brought to the team last year and do think Kyle Wilson has potential to develop into a reliable starter down the road, yet for the foreseeable future I think bringing Holmes and Cromartie back are the best decisions this team could make.
In case you haven’t been following, the NFL Network has been ranking the top 100 players in the league through a 10 part series. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was ranked 79th, Santonio Holmes 76th, and Nick Mangold 47th. They are down to the final 10 players and Pro Football Talk has likely correctly assumed they will be: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andre Johnson, Ray Lewis, Julius Peppers, Adrian Peterson, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Darrelle Revis. How high will Revis end up in the top ten? Personally, I’d rank those ten in the following order —
Revis was good enough in 2009 and the second half of 2010 to seriously be in the discussion as the best defensive player in football. Considering their body of work, I’d still put both Reed and Polamalu in front of him I am not sure a cornerback will ever get ahead of the elite quarterbacks on a list like this, but then again Revis did still manage to end up ahead of Aaron Rodgers (the fact that he wasn’t a top ten player is a bit of a joke).
Overall, I don’t think anybody would debate Ferguson, Mangold, Holmes, and Revis ending up in the Top 100. I also wouldn’t hesitate to argue that David Harris and Brandon Moore deserved consideration as well. The Jets certainly aren’t short on talent, it will just be a matter of keeping as much of it as possible this off-season and then getting that talent over the hump and into the Super Bowl.
Despite writing nearly a million words this off-season in argument to keep Antonio Cromartie. There is a chance Mike Tannenbaum will ignore TOJ and allow him to leave via free agency. If this does occur, the Jets could look like to sign an available veteran to compete with Kyle Wilson and provide better depth in their secondary. Here is a look at a few names (and no I am not including Nnamdi Asomugha because that just isn’t happening)…
Jonathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals – He has been in the league for six years and has developed into a quality starter, good enough that there was actually some talk about him and Leon Hall being the league’s best duo of corners in 2009. Joseph is 5-11, 190 pounds and is coming 0ff a 42 tackle, 3 INT season and did pull in 6 interceptions back in 2009.
Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins – A 7 year veteran, coming off a 54 tackle, 2 interception season. Rogers is 6-0, 189 pounds and a notch or two below Joseph talent-wise but should be a cheaper alternative.
Richard Marshall, Carolina Panthers – The Jets had some rumored interest in Marshall last off-season before trading for Cromartie. He is a 6 year veteran is coming off a few pretty good seasons in Carolina. Marshall had 3 interceptions and 88 tackles last year, and is 5-11 189 pounds. He should cost around the same as the Rogers.
Chris Carr, Baltimore Ravens – A 7 year veteran who was a solid, consistent starter for Baltimore last year. He finished with 61 tackles and 2 interceptions and is 5-10 182 pound. Carr also has value as a returner. He should be in the same price range as both Rogers and Marshall.
Fabian Washington, Baltimore Ravens – A 7 year veteran who would be a cheaper option and projects to more of a nickelback. He is 5’11 175 pounds and finished with 31 tackles and 8 passes defensed last year.
As expected, the New York Jets have announced they will move this year’s training camp to the team facility in Florham Park, New Jersey instead of traveling to Cortland, New York for the third straight year. The decision makes sense considering how chaotic everything is expected to be in the coming weeks as the lockout ends. Unfortunately, Cortland will not receive the normal economic boom they do from the Jets coming to town, however the commute will now be easier for many local fans to see their team practice.
Rex Ryan has always been a big advocate of getting his team away from the local distractions, yet this is a necessary sacrifice that comes with such a long lockout. Many teams around the league will likely be making a similar decision.
The Jets are planning to resume their partnership with Cortland in 2012, which means a Florham Park training camp should be a one time thing.
Start looking for your hotels in Morristown and Hanover…
TOJ at SB Nation NY with an interview with Kemba Walker on his thoughts on going to Charlotte and being passed over by 8 teams.
A closer look at Knicks picks Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson
Thoughts on the Nets trading for Marshon Brooks
Shumpert wasn’t initially a popular pick because he isn’t a big name guy and it seemed like a reach considering where he was being projected to be drafted. However, considering he won’t have the pressure to come in and immediately start, there is no reason he can’t develop properly behind Chauncey Billups while competing with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields for minutes. Shumpert has plenty of potential, especially to develop into a quality defender at 6-6 and with a 42 inch vertical.
Harrellson provides some much needed size at 6-10, 275 pounds. He doesn’t exactly have the strongest competition to make the roster, as the Knicks are thin on big men, so he may have a chance to stick.
Personally, I loved the Nets trade to get Brooks. They needed to provide a scorer in the backcourt with DeRon Williams and Brooks has a high ceiling, with the potential to develop in a star as the Nets move to Brooklyn.