March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —
1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”
You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).
2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.
3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.
4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.
5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.
6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.
7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace - Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.
8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.
9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.
10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.
11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.
12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.