New York Jets Exploring Running Back Market

The New York Jets are showing interest in free agent running backs, but they should be considering swinging a trade

With most of the focus on the New York Jets improving the secondary by adding LaRon Landry and potentially signing another safety, there have been some rumblings about the team looking to boost their depth chart at running back.

By the way, Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse are currently the Jets top two right tackles. I just needed to remind everybody of that…now back to the article.

Anyway, the Jets have expressed interest in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and there are rumors they could have interest in Michael Bush. Both are intriguing as they would signal an attempt to return to the “Thunder/Thunder” approach of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene during the 2009 season. Both running backs were considered top tier free agents at their position but have seen lukewarm interest so far. Bush is a bruiser, who is a quality receiver out of the backfield who is coming off his best season and Green-Ellis, as we know plenty well, is a solid, not spectacular back who never fumbles the football…literally.

A more intriguing option has presented itself with the Carolina Panthers signing running back Mike Tolbert. The Panthers were already well positioned at running back with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, so the Tolbert signing has led to speculation that either Williams or Stewart could be traded.

Carolina would love to move Williams and the asinine contract they signed him to last year. However, nobody will be taking it on unless he agrees to restructure. Stewart on the other hand has one year left on his rookie deal and it is hard to picture any scenario where they will have the money to re-sign him after how much they spent on Williams and now on Tolbert. So, why not move him now and get compensation for him?

Stewart is coming off a season where he racked up 761 rushing yards at 5.4 yards per carry and 47 receptions for 413 yards. He is an explosive playmaker who would make a terrific combination with Shonn Greene. If I am Mike Tannenbaum I am embracing my trading roots and offering Carolina a 3rd and 5th round pick for him. If that offer doesn’t satisfy them, I’d be willing to move up to a 2nd rounder this year and a conditional 5th rounder next year.

Bush and Green-Ellis are nice role players. Stewart has the ability to be a star in Tony Sparano’s run heavy system. Tannenbaum traded for a running back in 2007 in Thomas Jones who piled up 28 touchdowns and 3,833 rushing yards in three seasons. Stewart is capable of that type of production.

New York Jets Sign Safety LaRon Landry

The New York Jets have signed safety LaRon Landry

The New York Jets have signed safety LaRon Landry to a 1 year, 4 million dollar contract. Landry was the 6th overall pick of the Washington Redskins in 2007, where he has spent his entire career up until now. In that time he has 383 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.

At 6 feet, 225 pounds Landry is a physical player who is a “in the box” safety. He will replace Eric Smith in that role in Rex Ryan’s defense. Despite playing at a Pro Bowl level at times throughout his career, Landry has had major durability issues which has led him to miss 15 games over the past two seasons after only missing 1 over his first three years. He has had issues with left Achilles tendon and groin. In the past two years, he has avoided getting injury and instead received plasma and stem cell treatment.

Considering the duration of the contract, this was a needed risk by the Jets to improve their safety situation as their free agent options were dwindling and they needed two players at the position. If healthy, Landry will be an upgrade over Eric Smith and should help in run support. However, the Jets still must add a free safety with coverage ability, whether that is OJ Atogwe or an early round draft pick. Smith now has the ability to be the role player and special teams ace he was in 2009, a role that he thrived in for most of the season.

Landry was playing the best football of his career in 2010 prior to the Achilles injury, prompting Head Coach Mike Shanahan to make a Rex Ryan like statement that he would have been the Defensive Player of the Year if he hadn’t got hurt. The Jets will now have four first round draft picks in their secondary, with Landry joining Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson.

New York Jets Moving To Next Tier Of Free Agents

After losing out on Reggie Nelson, the New York Jets have shifted their focus to a new crop of players

It is fair to be disappointed about Reggie Nelson clearly using the New York Jets to jack up the price on the Cincinnati Bengals, who he chose to re-sign with. Nelson is a rangy, athletic player who would have been an immediate upgrade at free safety. However, Nelson is a good…not great player and thus not worth despairing over for too long. It is certainly too early to feel like the Miami Dolphins, who couldn’t recruit a player they wanted if they offered him a share of ownership and named the stadium after him.

The Jets continue to have a viable chance at LaRon Landry, who visited the team’s facility over the weekend. Landry has the potential to be a quality strong safety who spends most of time inside the box. It is important that the Jets don’t overpay for him however, as he has major durability concerns. Landry is cut in a similar mode to Eric Smith but is more physically talented and would allow Smith to move back to the situational player role he thrived in.

The team is also expressing interest in OJ Atogwe, who has the ability to fill the hole at free safety. Atogwe is coming off a disappointing season in Washington, but who doesn’t have disappointing seasons in Washington? He was a very productive player in St. Louis from 2006-2010 and would be a nice upgrade for the Jets over Jim Leonhard whose health status remains unclear at this point.

It is also being reported the Jets are considering former Green Bay Packers safety/corner Jarrett Bush. While he is a versatile player with some upside, it is doubtful the team views him as a full time option at safety. He would more likely be a replacement for Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole in the Jets nickel/sub packages and on special teams.

On offense, the Jets are bringing in wide receiver Donnie Avery for a visit. Avery is a burner who has had health issues (sound familiar?) similar to Chaz Schilens, Avery is a low cost/potentially high reward player.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain remains on the market so it will be interesting to see if the Jets work on bringing him in for a visit in the coming days. We know the team is interested and he gives them the ability to cut ties with Bart Scott.

Don’t Panic Jets Fans, NFL Draft Is Deep At Safety

After losing out on Reggie Nelson, Chris breaks down the safeties the New York Jets could pursue in the NFL Draft

With the Jets getting spurned by Reggie Nelson after hosting the free agent safety for a weekend long visit, it seems as though LaRon Landry is the only viable option left. But if Landry happens to politely decline an offer from the Jets as well, Mike Tannenbaum and Co. will most likely need to address this need via the draft. Many “experts” view this year’s crop of safeties to be shallow in comparison to other positions. However, when taking a closer look, this may not be the case at all. There are three safe picks that the Jets could make in one of the early rounds this year that may save their safety situation for the upcoming season.

The first, and probably most popular, of the bunch is Alabama’s Mark Barron. By now, Jets fans know who Barron is simply because his name has been linked to the team in countless mock drafts. Having played his entire career under the tutelage of defensive backs guru Nick Saban, Barron was a cornerstone to the nation’s top defense this past season, making him the safest pick at his position this year. Barron certainly has the skills and big game experience that will make him an immediate impact player on whatever team selects him.

However, the Jets are starving for a dominant pass rusher, something Rex Ryan has never had since coming to New York. The first round is poised to be filled with game changers at outside linebacker, so Tannenbaum and Ryan may opt to pass on Barron for the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, or Nick Perry.

So if not Barron, then who else? The two most quality under the radar safeties this year are Antonio Allen of South Carolina and Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith. Allen is more of an in the box type strong safety, having played the Rover position for the Gamecocks last year, but his ability to make big plays in big games should be noted. Last season, Allen’s two best games came at Georgia, where he had six tackles and a 25-yard interception returned for a touchdown, and home against Auburn in which he totaled 13 tackles, including 9 solos, and an interception. His combine numbers aren’t flashy, having run only a 4.67 40-yard dash, so Allen may be a day two option for the Jets.

Smith, on the other hand, has blown away scouts with his athletic ability. At 6’2” 213 pounds, combined with a 4.57 40 yard dash, 19 reps on the bench, and a 34 inch vertical leap, he has all the tools to be a force in both the pass and run games. A 4-year starter and Captain last season at Notre Dame, Smith has also proven to have the durability, experience, and leadership skills that should make him an asset if drafted into the right system. There is a good chance the Jets will give him a look if they choose to pass on Barron. However, at the rate his stock is expected to rise closer to draft day, Tannenbaum may have to resort back to his “Trader Mike” days and work a deal to get into the back end of the first round to grab him.

With Nelson seemingly using the Jets as leverage to obtain more money from Cincinnati, there is certainly cause for concern among Jets Nation. However, there is no reason to panic. As TOJ noted, Nelson is a good, not great, safety. Although he surely would have been an upgrade to New York’s current safety situation, he does not possess the upside of any of these three young players. Rest assured all is not yet lost for Gang Green.

New York Jets Sign Wide Receiver Chaz Schilens

TOJ with thoughts on the New York Jets signing wide receiver Chaz Schilens

UPDATE: The deal is for one year, $765,000 with $500,000 guaranteed. It is impossible to criticize the deal at this cost. It is cheap enough where another player, like a Jerricho Cotchery for example, could still come in with a viable chance to compete for the starting job. This is the type of money you pay to a player who will compete with 1 to 2 other people to be a starter.

The New York Jets made their second signing of the day by bringing in wide receiver Chaz Schilens. This has been expected for the past couple of days as the Jets have shown interest in him since free agency opened. Schilens played for new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal in Oakland and while his signing likely won’t be popular with many fans, it has the potential to be a wise move.

The financials on his contract haven’t been released yet but you would hope the Jets signed him to a low cost, incentive laden deal. Schilens has had major durability issues his entire NFL career, missing 13 games between the 2009 and 2010 season. In four seasons for the Raiders, Schilens has 72 receptions, 902 yards and 7 touchdowns. Last year, as primarily a backup he finished with 23 receptions, 271 yards and 2 touchdowns.

What is good about Schilens is that he has the physical tools. He is 6-4, 225 pounds and ran under a 4.4 forty yard dash before he entered the league. The potential is there for him to be this season’s Laurent Robinson, a guy who breaks out because he finally stays healthy and is in the right circumstance, without having to hand out the ridiculous contract that Jacksonville just did to him. The risk is that he won’t be able to stay healthy and could end up being Matthew Hatchette 2.0 for the Jets.

The Jets have signed Schilens with the intention of giving him the opportunity to start opposite of Santonio Holmes. Yet, I would expect the Jets to still strongly consider drafting a receiver in one of the earlier rounds to throw into the mix and maybe sign another veteran.

New York Jets: Quick Defense Of Drew Stanton Signing

TOJ promises you will feel better about the Drew Stanton signing after reading this

I know you aren’t excited about the Drew Stanton signing New York Jets fans so let me play a quick Devil’s Advocate.

First off, he is a substantial upgrade over Mark Brunell. Second, he was signed to a one year with the expectation that Greg McElroy will be ready to take over the #2 spot in 2013. Third, Stanton’s career numbers aren’t impressive but that is thanks to an ugly 2009. He improved in 2010 and actually put together a quality year off the bench. In three starts and three relief appearances, he ended up with 780 passing yards, 58.0 completion percentage, 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a rushing touchdown.

In 2010, he came off the bench against the Giants and threw for 222 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception in the Meadowlands. He beat the eventual Super Bowl Champion Packers 7-3 in a late season start and then got the Lions their first road win in 3 years by beating a 10 win Tampa Bay team in their stadium. Here is his stat line for his 3 starts in 2010 –

  • Home vs. Chicago – 16/24, 178 yards, 1 TD – Loss 24-20
  • Home vs. Green Bay – 10/22, 177 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs – Win 7-3
  • At Tampa Bay – 23/37, 252 yards, 1 TD – Win 23-20

Beyond that…the guy can dance.

TOJ New York Jets Free Agency 12 Pack

TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the New York Jets in free agency

UPDATE: The Jets have signed quarterback Drew Stanton to a one year, 1.25 million dollar deal to backup Mark Sanchez.

Kick off your St. Patrick’s Day Weekend by sitting back and enjoying a 12 pack of thoughts on the New York Jets potential moves in free agency. Then tomorrow when you are prowling the streets of New York City, look for the tall, not that athletic looking guy with the Revis Island shirt and Eric Smith signed snapback hat and buy him a real 12 pack…

1. The biggest news of the day, as far as I’m concerned is two fold, first that LaRon Landry is coming for a visit to the Jets facility but more importantly that the team believes they have a chance to sign both him and Reggie Nelson. It is financially feasible as long as the deals are structured the right way, which is Mike Tannenbaum’s speciality. I have not been high on pursuing Landry this off-season but if you can sign him on the right deal (an incentive laden one that protects you from his injuries) and you pair him with a centerfield/ballhawk type safety like Nelson it makes sense. Landy at strong safety with Nelson at free safety, along with Eric Smith back as the top reserve is a good situation. Nevermind the potential of still bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum for depth purposes. How nice would it be to bring back your previous #1 and #2 safety as your new #3 and #4 safety…now that is depth.

2. If the Jets can lock down the safety position via free agency, it gives them ability to push their chips to the middle of the table to get a pass rusher in the draft. If you solve safety via free agency, go solve outside linebacker in the draft by moving up if necessary to grab Melvin Ingram or Courtney Upshaw.

3. It is also being reported today that the Jets have interest in inside linebacker Jameel McClain. This has long been a speculated move for the Jets as McClain has experience with Rex Ryan. If he does sign, you can start counting the seconds until Bart Scott is cut.

4. All of a sudden you are a seeing a blueprint for a much improved Jets defense in 2012. Keep in mind, this is if everything breaks right. But the potential is there to add two new starting safeties, an outside linebacker early in the draft and a new inside linebacker in McClain. You can then add a few depth players later in the draft and all of a sudden you have the potential for a very scary defense in 2012. Can you imagine a starting defensive backfield of Landry, Nelson, Revis and Cromartie with Wilson as the nickel back…that is five first round draft picks.

5. There are mixed reports about the Jets search for a backup quarterback. At this point, both Drew Stanton and Brady Quinn remain likely options. I would expect one to be signed in the coming days. Both have shortcomings but both are upgrades over Mark Brunell. UPDATE – Stanton was signed to 1 year deal.

6. I like what I heard from Mark Sanchez’s comments to the media yesterday, most notably that he took the time to fly down to Florida to patch things up with Santonio Holmes, calling out his anonymous critics as “gutless,” and retracting the comments he made about his new contract making him leader and saying that he needed to earn it on the field. He sounded like a confident guy ready to have an improved year…obviously we’ll see what happens on the field.

7. Jamaal Westerman signed with the Dolphins. I always felt he could have done more for the team with extended playing time but with the emergence of Aaron Maybin he became expendable.

8. This has flown under the radar but the Jets would be foolish to let Robert Turner walk. He is a versatile backup, who can play in certain big packages. I am sure Dallas will take a run at him but the Jets need to remember the importance of depth on the offensive line.

9. I think the Jets will get around to bringing Marquice Cole back. He is a quality depth player who is a key part of all their special teams units.

10. At wide receiver, I will reiterate my stance on Chaz Schilens. If you sign him on a cheap, incentive laden contract it has the potential to be a smart move. The size and speed is there but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. There is a chance he could be next year’s Laurent Robinson or miss 10 games with an injury, which is why it would be smart to pair his signing with either a mid-round draft pick, Braylon Edwards, or Jerricho Cotchery. The problem is that I doubt Cotchery or Edwards come here unless they are given a chance to start and I think the Jets are signing Schilens with the intention of him being a starter.

11. All quiet on the running back front. The Jets may be content to just add a player through the draft in the middle or late rounds and roll with what they have instead of paying Ronnie Brown any type of money.

12. It was good to see the Jets focus on taking care of their own this off-season by bringing back Sione Pouha and Bryan Thomas, respected veterans in the locker room. Those type of moves go a long to improving locker room chemistry.

New York Jets: Tannenbaum Might Still Have Faith In Ducasse

New TOJ writer Chris Gross explores if Mike Tannenabum is being stubborn at right tackle because of faith in Vladimir Ducasse

EDITOR’s NOTE: TOJ would like to welcome aboard our newest writer, Chris Gross. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@CGross97). He is a recent graduate of Union College and continues our trend of hiring former D-3 athletes who attended schools that lost to my alma mater Muhlenberg in football, when I attended there. Happy to have you on board Chris! – JC

Throughout his run as the New York Jets’ General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum has become widely known as one of the most active GMs in the NFL. So with a glaring need at right tackle, Jet fans everywhere are wondering one thing: What is taking him so long to fill the huge hole occupied by Wayne Hunter last season? Not only have the Jets not signed someone to fill this void, they seemingly haven’t even reached out to any of the big name free agent tackles on the market. It is easy to assume the Jets will be going budget on the offensive side of the ball to spend big on one of the remaining safeties left on the market, presumably Reggie Nelson or LaRon Landry. While that may be the case, there may be another reason for Mike T’s madness (or lack thereof).

With a new offensive line coach and offensive coordinator in place, Tannenbaum and the Jets coaching staff may have more confidence in the tackles currently on their roster then some believe, namely Vladimir Ducasse. While Mike T has previously stated that he fully expects Wayne Hunter to be the starter at RT next year, there are questions regarding the sincerity of that comment with reports that Hunter was shopped before the start of free agency. Remember, this is the same man who publicly stated that he expected Brian Schottenheimer to be the Jets’ offensive coordinator next season.

So, enter Ducasse, the Jets 2010 2nd Round Draft Pick. While Ducasse has done little during his short tenure as a New York Jet to illustrate to the fan base that he is worthy of ever setting foot on the field, much less be a starter, all hope may not be lost for him in the eyes of the Jets front office. Based on the remainder of the Jets starting offensive line, it is safe to say that the Jets feel confident in their ability to develop players up front. Ferguson, Mangold, and Slauson were all drafted by the organization, while Brandon Moore signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Although Ducasse has seen very limited game time in his two years with the Jets, it is possible that the organization still believes he can be a significant piece in rebuilding the right side of the offensive line.

Although this theory may seem crazy to some, there are certain things to remember about the Jets and Big Vlad. First, he came from Division 1 FCS University of Massachusetts. Although the NFL has seen countless players succeed from lower level schools, there are very few who had an impact with their respective teams early in their careers. The perfect example of this is Victor Cruz. Unless you are a Giants or Jets fan, odds are you had no idea who Victor Cruz was up until week 3 of this past season. Until his breakout game against the Eagles, even fans of both New York teams only remembered Cruz for his 2010 preseason performance in which he torched the Jets for three touchdowns. Cruz had the early hardships that most young players coming out of small schools face. In 2010, he appeared in only three games, and was virtually irrelevant to the NFL before his breakout 2011 campaign. There is no question that players drafted from smaller schools have a more difficult time transitioning to the NFL than those who come out of larger schools.

Second, the Jets may feel that Ducasse could benefit greatly with new voices in his ear. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano made his mark in the NFL as an offensive line guru, and along with newly hired offensive line coach Dave Deguglielmo, the organization could be developing the idea that these men can mold Ducasse into the player they envisioned when they took him with the 61st overall pick in 2010. After all, Vlad fits the psychical mold of an NFL tackle at 6’5” 325 pounds. The Jets may feel that Sparano and co. will now be able to help him fit the mental mold as well.

Finally, Tannenbaum and the Jets do not like to give up on players that were selected with early round draft picks. In 2008, the Jets selected Vernon Gholston with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. Although he did not record a sack during his entire NFL career, the Jets held onto Gholston for three years hoping he would eventually develop into the pass rusher they thought they were getting. Certainly there was much more of a financial commitment to Gholston then there is with Ducasse, but the point is that Mike T likes to give his guys time to develop.

Although the Jets lack of activity along the offensive front is frustrating, they could simply be putting a lot of faith in Ducasse. And while it does not seem smart for the organization to put confidence in such an unproven player, especially considering they just gave their franchise quarterback a multi-year extension, it might just be their train of thought. If they do in fact feel this way, expect a continued lack of interest toward free agent offensive lineman by the Jets in the coming weeks.

New York Jets: Getting Closer To Action

Believe it or not, the New York Jets should be making some moves in free agency in the coming days

It is easy to be frustrated at the moment if you are a New York Jets fan. The Buffalo Bills signed Mario Williams and have already been crowned the best defense in the AFC East but you should know better than anybody not to buy into March coronations, right? While your anger is justified at right tackle until a player not named Hunter or Ducasse is starting, the Jets do appear to be preparing for action at other positions.

Most notably, highly coveted safety Reggie Nelson will be coming in for a visit tomorrow. Considering what is left on the safety market and Nelson’s skill set, the Jets shouldn’t let him leave the building without a contract. He is coming off a very good season for the Bengals and would provide much needed athleticism and ball skills to the safety position.

Chaz Schilens is also coming in for a visit and the Jets do expect to sign him in the coming days. Schilens has good upside and as long as the Jets give him a low cost, incentive laden contract, this has the potential to be a smart move. However, a signing of Schilens could stop a return from either Jerricho Cotchery or Braylon Edwards, both of whom would like to start. It is my impression that the Jets are signing Schilens to start opposite of Santonio Holmes and if they do that, look for them to not consider bringing back Edwards or Cotchery, as unpopular of move that will be with fans.

At quarterback, Drew Stanton visited the team today and Brady Quinn is coming in tomorrow. Quinn is a bigger name than Stanton who also has more NFL experience. Yet, keep in mind Quinn’s NFL struggles and not his flashy name when you are screaming for him after three straight incompletions from Mark Sanchez in a pre-season game.

Beyond that, do not sleep on the Jets becoming active in the trade market in the coming weeks.

New York Jets Need To Act At Right Tackle

The New York Jets are kidding themselves if they think they don’t have to act at right tackle

UPDATE: The Washington Redskins have signed safety Brandon Meriweather. So, the New York Jets have been saved from themselves there. Look for them to make an aggressive push for Reggie Nelson.

In case you haven’t heard the Buffalo Bills have signed Mario Williams to a monster contract today. Williams is one of the league’s top pass rushers. I don’t believe in making reactionary moves to what other team’s in your division do in most situations and the Jets should have been acting to add a right tackle before the Bills even considered signing Williams, now they must act.

This is a pretty simple case. You have a quarterback who you just reinvested in for two more years. A guy who has shown potential, who you know you can with but a guy who struggles when he constantly has pressure in his face. Last year he was beat around because you had arguably the worst starting offensive tackle, Wayne Hunter. Your team struggled and you went 8-8. This happened because you undervalued your offensive line. When your offensive line was elite, you made the AFC Championship Game twice. When you start the 32nd best right tackle in football for 16 games, you go 8-8, miss the playoffs and have your quarterback’s confidence shaken.

Don’t give us leaks that you expect Vladimir Ducasse to compete with Hunter to start at tackle. Ducasse is one of the few players in the NFL not good enough to start over Hunter. Unless you have seen something I haven’t in the previous two years, there is no reason to think Ducasse is anywhere near being ready to start in the NFL and there is valid reason to question if he ever will.

I understand and appreciate a cautious approach in free agency. Plenty of teams are overpaying players as I am typing this. Yet, the Jets have a troubling history of overestimating their talents on the offensive line, whether it is starting Anthony Clement for two straight years, replacing Pete Kendall with Adrien Clarke or now replacing Damien Woody with Wayne Hunter. There are a handful of options still available on the free agent market and likely on the trade market. You don’t have to break the bank to replace Hunter but you need to do something. If you don’t, you wasted money extending Sanchez, guaranteeing Santonio Holmes contract, and paying any receiver this off-season. No point to invest in quarterbacks and receivers if you aren’t going to give them time to connect.

If the Jets have faith in Tony Sparano to improve their offensive line, that makes sense. It is why they hired him. He should help D’Brickashaw Ferguson have a bounce back year, continue to push Nick Mangold to be great and maybe make Matt Slauson go from being decent to slightly above decent. When it comes to Hunter or Ducasse…if ya ain’t got, ya ain’t got it and no coach in the world can change that.

In case you were thinking of still standing up for Hunter, remember four separate players (Von Miller, Andre Carter, Jason Babin, Jarret Johnson) all won AFC Defensive Player of the Week against the Jets last year for beating the crap out of Mark Sanchez.