Most of the focus in the NFL is about to shift to the NFL Draft, which is still over five weeks away. The New York Jets remain flush with cap space and are loaded with twelve total selections. However, their apparent unwillingness to enter the chase for wide receiver DeSean Jackson and continued judicious, guarded approach to free agency has many fans and certain writers frustrated. Let’s break open a Sunday 12 Pack and take a closer look at the team’s thought process and what could be on the way in the coming weeks. As always, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for further discussion and breakdowns.
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2. Adam Schefter has reported the Jets are not one of the nine teams who reached out to DeSean Jackson when he was released. Kristian Dyer also cited team sources who claim they aren’t expected to seriously pursue the newly freed receiver. Personally, I disagree and would like to see the Jets make a push to sign him. However, it seems clear that GM John Idzik is adamant about keeping cap flexibility and is not going to pay big money for somebody who could be a potential problem off the field. I think the riskiness with Jackson is being overstated by many but the Jets have access to a offensive coordinator who coached him in the NFL, a receiver coach who coached him in college and a quarterback who played with him last season, if they aren’t pushing hard for him, they must feel shaky about something related to him. Jackson’s first visit will be with Washington tomorrow and then a trip to Oakland is expected shortly after. It will be interesting to see how much guaranteed money they are willing to spend.
3. It remains entirely unfair to even begin evaluating the Jets offseason until after the NFL Draft and even at that point, it is somewhat premature. An early pivotal point in Idzik’s tenure could be this draft, which was intentionally loaded up by allowing so many free agents to walk last offseason, swinging the Darrelle Revis trade and not trading any future picks last season. Twelve picks gives the Jets immense flexibility in terms of potentially moving up in any round, targeting a veteran player or simply staying put and loading up on young talent. A judicious free agency means hoping the core of this team for the foreseeable future is going to be the young talent currently on the team, last season’s draft class and this upcoming draft class.
4. When the question is asked, what are the Jets saving cap space for? The thought process is likely a combination of multiple things. First off, keeping flexibility in case an unexpected player becomes available that the Jets want to pursue. This happens all the time in the NFL and just because DeSean Jackson may not be a player the Jets covet, doesn’t mean if another veteran comes available unexpectedly in the coming months or next offseason, that the Jets won’t move. Second, they are going to want to pay Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Jeremy Kerley next offseason. Third, if they don’t make any trades, they will have 12 draft picks to pay this summer and are likely planning to be a team who regularly picks 7-10 players every May.
5. Patience can be frustrating. The NFL is the type of league where the right team can get hot at the end of December and make a surprise run to a Championship. You want to be a team who puts themselves in a position to do that regularly. Many like to compare the Jets to building in the Seattle model. Remember, in the first two years of John Schneider and Pete Carroll, the Seahawks went 7-9 in back to back seasons. I would guess most Jets fans will be calling for Idzik’s and/or Rex Ryan’s head if the team goes 7-9 in 2014. However, if the Jets draft well this May and Geno Smith, Dee MIlliner and Brian Winters build on their final month of 2013, they will have the table set for sustained future success.
6. One of the biggest eventual downfalls of Mike Tannenabum, beside losing his bet on Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Tim Tebow was poor self-scouting. Tannenbaum would frequently overestimate and underestimate his own talent. He viewed Shonn Greene as a feature back, when he wasn’t. He viewed Wayne Hunter as a starting right tackle, when he wasn’t. He viewed Jerricho Cotchery as dispensable, when he wasn’t. Idzik has 5 months and a NFL Draft to still move but if he leaves the depth chart alone at cornerback and tight end, he is overestimating his own talent. We are BIG Darrin Walls fans here and think he very well may be capable of being a starting NFL corner but to leave him and Dee Milliner as your starters is extremely risky. Walls still is not proven. Milliner still has both durability and consistency questions. There is still more depth needed there. At tight end, Jeff Cumberland is not a capable starter. Simply put, the position is still very weak and thin overall.
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8. We are going to start getting more draft heavy here in the coming weeks. I have received a few questions about my preference of receivers after Sammy Watkins (who I do not think the Jets will move up to pursue) and Mike Evans (who could be a reasonable target if he drops into the 12-15 range). I consider Odell Beckham Jr the third best overall receiver, Bradin Cooks as 4A and Marqise Lee as 4B. Beyond them, I like Jordan Matthews, Donte Moncrief and Allen Robinson in that order.
9. It seems like the Jets are content returning Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry as starters at safety. I don’t have a huge problem with that duo and don’t mind Ed Reed not being brought back either. I worry about Rex Ryan being able to help himself and keep Reed playing behind Allen, who is an ascending player. Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush should be adequate enough in depth, unless the Jets make a play for a safety in one of the early rounds of the draft, which would be out of character for them since Rex Ryan took over.
10. The Jets have taken a flier on two cornerbacks this offseason: Johnny Patrick and the recently signed Jeremy Reeves. The latter had some eye popping combine stats and has the build to maybe be a factor in the slot or in the return game. It will be interesting to see if Rex and Dennis Thurman can get something significant out of at least one of these two.
11. We have heard a few rumors about the Jets having interest in Chris Johnson. Most, if not all, rumors associated with the Jets this offseason have been off-base. Johnson has tantalizing speed and would improve depth. Personally, I’m still a bit torn on whether or not it would be a sensible addition. Mike Goodson is already here and has potential but plenty of question marks. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell hammering defenses on the inside and then bringing in Johnson to pop outside? Not a a terrible thought…
12. I still would not be surprised if the Jets spent a middle round pick on a quarterback and if that quarterback eventually pushed Matt Simms off the roster.