Since free agency could be here sooner rather than later, let’s use today’s TOJ Top Five to look at the decisions the Jets will have to make in the coming month or two.
5. Offensive Line
The team released right tackle Damien Woody earlier in the year but may still bring him back since second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse didn’t have a formal off-season to work with the coaches. Wayne Hunter is a free agent and could be signed as a cheaper option to compete with Ducasse if the Jets decide not to bring Woody back. Versatile backup Robert Turner is also a free agent.
4. The Pass Rush
The Jets didn’t add an outside linebacker in the NFL Draft and remain thin overall at the linebacker position. A few people have speculated they could pursue Matt Roth, who spent last season in Cleveland. They could also decide to bring Jason Taylor back, although that seems like a long shot. On the defensive line, a decision has to be made on Shaun Ellis, who is the longest tenured member of the team and could provide an excellent mentor to rookie Muhammad Wilkerson for a year or two. Veteran Trevor Pryce could also be brought back to help take some of the burden off Wilkerson in his rookie year, if the Jets decide to let Ellis walk.
3. Safety Choices…
Brodney Pool and Eric Smith are both free agents, and the Jets will likely have to pick one to bring back as the starter opposite Jim Leonhard. Pool has more potential but could cost more money, Smith struggles in coverage but is a heady player who is good in run support. Backup safety and special teams ace James Ihedigbo is also a free agent.
2. Who to put opposite of The Island?
The Jets need to decide whether or not they are going to bring Antonio Cromartie back to play corner opposite of Darrelle Revis. If Cromartie does walk, the Jets are going to need to find another veteran to compete with Kyle Wilson and provide better depth throughout the cornerback position. Jonathan Joseph, Richard Marshall, Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor and Chris Carr are all on the market…and no I don’t think the Jets will even pursue Nnamdi Asomugha. Nickelback Drew Coleman is also a free agent and and coming off a career year in 2010.
1. Braylon or Santonio?
Which of the free agent receivers is going to get the long term deal? There is always the possibility that Mike Tannenbaum could put in an early bid for executive of the year by getting them both back but in all likelihood, one will be leaving town…probably Edwards. How it plays out with Edwards and Holmes will determine which (if any) free agent receivers the Jets will pursue in free agency or via trade, whether it is Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith, or any of the other names they have been associated with.
It is starting to sound like there may be a light at the end of this lockout tunnel and if everything breaks right in the coming weeks there is going to be a furious two to three week stretch of free agency in early July. No matter how the negotiations end up setting the framework for the rules in the 2011 season and the new CBA, the New York Jets are going to have their hands full. Yet, one of the positive things the Jets will have working for them is they have created an organizational culture that is appealing to players around the league.
Leading the New York Jets is an owner willing to spend money, on state of the art facilities and top tier talent, a general manager who is willing to pursue that top tier talent and remain aggressive to keep the Jets consistently competitive, and a head coach who is as popular with players as any in the NFL.
Say what you want about Hard Knocks but it was great advertising for the New York Jets. The days of this franchise being a clumsily run, bumbling second class NFL citizen are over. They have a brand new stadium, brand new training facilities, and most importantly an identity as a physical, talented football team that is developing into a consistent winner.
The Jets top concern in free agency will be bringing their own players back, yet if they have holes they need to fill, they should have the ability to recruit the necessary replacement pieces, which is a credit to Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and Woody Johnson.
The New York Jets are currently holding workouts in North Jersey, it is being reported that somewhere around 40 players are in attendance, with a partial listing of who is there right here. Mark Sanchez had previously mentioned bringing together as much of the team as possible if the lockout extended into the middle of the June. These workouts are looking to serve as informal replacement for mini-camp, which would normally take place around this time.
I wouldn’t get too worked up about who does and doesn’t attend these workouts which are expected to last for three days. There seems to be increasing optimism that the lockout is going to end within a month or so to allow for a full training camp and a pre-season, preceded by an abbreviated free agency period. You can’t expect potential free agents to risk an injury so close to a time when they will be looking for a new contract, which is why players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie are likely working out on their own during these days. It is worth noting that Brad Smith is in attendance despite being a free agent.
These few days will be good work for the rookies and younger players on the Jets roster who are expected to move into bigger roles. It is also another demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s leadership on this team, as he was able to gather up this many players for workouts. Sione Pouha said it a few weeks ago “when Mark makes the call…we’ll be there.”
Hopefully the amount of work Sanchez has put in participating, leading, and coaching these workouts will continue his development at a somewhat comparable pace to the work around the team facility he did last off-season.
The end may be finally be getting near for the lockout and on the whole it has been encouraging to see the amount of work the Jets players have put it in to stay in shape the previous few months.
A collection of some of the best clips today on the Dallas Mavericks winning their first ever NBA Finals…and remember that yes, Miami did lose and it was a beautiful thing to watch them flame-out, but don’t forget to give Dallas the credit they deserve in the middle of all your Miami/LeBron hating.
Jason Whitlock thinks it is time to blow up the big three – A knee jerk reaction without question and I don’t think for a second that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh are going anywhere. Whitlock describes LeBron’s performance as “putrid” and James as a “national laughingstock and late-night punch line.” It is hard to argue with that right now, there is nothing more frustrating for people who the love the sport of basketball to watch the most talented player on the planet play with zero effort and heart when it matters the most.
Adrian Wojnarowski gives Dirk Nowitzki his due – The story of this playoffs should really be Nowitzki and everything he did right, not James and everything he did wrong. The emotion shown by Nowitzki as he left the floor in the final seconds was a beautiful sports moment. He has stuck it out in Dallas, through plenty of rough times and in the end managed to take his team and his franchise to a title with an epic post-season run.
It is good to see in basketball, a team…not whatever you would call the Miami Heat…win the championship. The team that played the game right way, beat the supremely talented one. The high-school team with a group of seniors that had played together their whole career and were desperate to win a trophy for their town knocked off the AAU team playing for college scholarships.
I am randomly a huge DeShawn Stevenson fan from back when I lived in DC and was happy to see Soulja Boy beat Jay-Z
The NBA could be about to head down the same road of the NFL
Overall, a great playoffs for the NBA, capped off by a great Finals. Keep an eye out for Justin’s reaction here at TOJ in the coming days, along further commentary from myself and upcoming draft coverage.
These videos are certainly fun to watch today…
An off-season edition of TOJ Weekend Video Clips
With all the talk this week about who the greatest New York Jet ever is, why not flip the script and take a look at some of the worst players in recent franchise history…
Vernon Gholston – Nothing like spending the 6th overall pick on a pass rusher who can’t sack the quarterback. Gholstoncouldn’t even trip in the right place to record a sack during his three seasons with the Jets. Beyond that, he never really seemed to have any passion for the game.
Justin McCariens – Maybe he wasn’t that bad overall, but all of those dropped passes from 2007 still stick in my memory. He also cost me a remote control, which I slammed against the wall, after this game in Baltimore:
Doug Brien – He didn’t just miss one…but yes two kicks that would have sent the Jets into the AFC Championship Game in 2004. Few people remember what a huge upset over Pittsburgh that win would have been, with the Steelers being 15-1 that season. Those missed kicks also made the Jets have a knee jerk reaction and waste a second round pick on Mike Nugent the following year.
Rick Mirer – A valuable reminder that you always need a quality backup quarterback. The Jets season went up into flames in 1999 after Vinny Testaverde tore his ACL in week one because for some reason they thought Mirer was a competent backup.
Adrien Clarke – Sure, go ahead and release Pete Kendall…we will be fine with Clarke under at guard…tell that to Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens who were routinely pummeled thanks to Clarke’s matador blocking.
Alex Van Dyke – A first round wide receiver who had 25 receptions for the Jets in three years and most notable play was a costly fumble in the AFC Championship Game.
Blair Thomas – Nothing like spending the second overall pick on a running back who will rush for five career touchdowns. I will say this…he was always very fast in the original Tecmo Bowl.