Despite One Loss, New York Jets Put Together Strong Off-Season

Prior to the past week’s free agency frenzy starting, we knew the following, whether you wanted to believe it or not –

  • The Jets prioritized Santonio Holmes well ahead of Braylon Edwards
  • The Jets needed a number two cornerback
  • Brad Smith wasn’t coming back
  • Their remaining group of veteran free agents would be a toss up on who stayed and left

Nnamdi Asomugha was a long shot who stormed out of nowhere to become a reality that quickly captivated Jets fans and their free agency coverage, and why wouldn’t he as the top player on the market? The contenders for his services began to drop off making it look like Asomugha ending up on the Jets was a sure thing.

We obviously know what happened. He shocked everybody by choosing the Philadelphia Eagles. Was it a stinging loss? Yes. Was it a death blow to the Jets free agency plans this off-season? Absolutely not. Asomugha was a luxury. Your off-season isn’t a failure if you can’t land both the best offensive free agent, which the Jets did in Santonio Holmes, and the best defensive free agent. Your team isn’t not a Super Bowl contender because they don’t have the two best corners in football on their team, especially when you still have arguably the best tandem in the league.

In the end, the Jets got Antonio Cromartie back on a reasonable contract and did keep that best tandem of corners in the league together. They did the right thing by bringing back Santonio Holmes over Braylon Edwards and suffered the obvious but necessary consequences of seeing Edwards and Brad Smith leave. Fortunately, there isn’t a gaping hole opposite Holmes as the Jets found a cheaper, short term alternative in Plaxico Burress, who does come with plenty of questions but also with plenty height, experience and talent.

Drew Coleman left but Donald Strickland was signed and if he is healthy can be a more than adequate replacement, never mind the hopeful improvement of 2010 first round pick Kyle Wilson. Eric Smith and Wayne Hunter were brought back to start at safety and right tackle, respectively. Were Brodney Pool and Damien Woody better options? Maybe, but the gap isn’t substantial enough to expect a major drop off at either position. When you throw in the expected return of Shaun Ellis and James Ihedigbo, along with the potential addition of another outside linebacker it is looking like another strong off-season for the Jets led by Mike Tannenbaum.

Is the team better on paper than it was last year? Probably not, but the potential is there for it to be substantially better especially if players like Kyle Wilson, Jamaal Westerman and Joe McKnight bring something to the table this year and the Jets get contributions out of rookies like Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Jeremy Kerley. Never mind the continued growth of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

With a few minor moves left to finish up, the Jets are still a Super Bowl contender and will be a handful for any team to deal with on both sides of the ball. If you don’t think they have something good going on in Florham Park, you’ll have to explain why Bart Scott and Calvin Pace restructured their contracts, LaDainian Tomlinson took a pay cut, Mark Sanchez volunteered to restructure his contract, Santonio Holmes took less money to stay here, and Plaxico Burress came here despite likely being able to get a better deal somewhere else.

Yes, I know Jason Taylor did leave for the Dolphins…but hey, we never liked him anyway.

Jets Training Camp 8/1: Unhappy Rumors & Smack Talk

Check back for more updates after this afternoon’s practice

Today started off with the good news about the New York Jets reaching an agreement with Antonio Cromartie, unfortunately it was followed with the bad news about veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery being on the trading block.

I am not sure who the Jets could be thinking of targeting with the extra cap space they would free up by getting rid of Cotchery. At wide receiver, the only intriguing veteran left is Malcolm Floyd but would he be any cheaper than Cotchery? Is there an outside linebacker they are eyeing up like Matt Roth, Tully Banta-Cain, or Manny Lawson? I have a hard time finding it to be a wise decision to move Cotchery, a respected, reliable veteran who the Jets need as of right now.

There is no guarantee Plaxico Burress is ready to be a full time number two receiver and behind him the Jets have Patrick Turner and rookie fifth round pick Jeremy Kerley. How could they feel safe with that kind of depth chart? Cotchery had a down year in 2010 but was dealing with a herniated disc in  his back, which is now repaired and if you saw what he did against New England in the playoffs last year, you know he can still play.

Unless they are getting great value or have a free agent lined up we haven’t heard about that could be an immediate, high-impact player, it would be a huge risk to part ways with Cotchery.

Rex Ryan was back at the podium today…

  • He encouraged the rest of the NFL to find a way to beat New England as the Jets have been “the only team who can beat them.”…Two of the Patriots three losses were against the Jets in 2010.
  • Eric Smith was named the starting safety opposite Jim Leonhard.
  • The roster this year is “the best he ever had.”
  • Ryan is challenging Wayne Hunter to be “the best right tackle in football.”
  • He stood up for Braylon Edwards against recent reports that said some in the organization thought he was a diva by saying he was a great teammate and a hard worker.
  • Judging from his and Mike Tannenbaum’s words, the Jets are going to make another handful of moves.

By the way, you can go back to hating Jason Taylor again. He re-signed with the Miami Dolphins today.

TOJ Roundtable: Expectations For Plaxico?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

What type of production should we expect from Plaxico Burress this year?

Joe Caporoso: The Jets don’t need Burress to start the season off giving them 60-70 snaps a game. He can roll through with Jerricho Cotchery at the number two spot as he gets more comfortable back on the field. The biggest place he can make an impact is in the red-zone where the Jets have struggled the past couple of years. You can bet new offensive consultant Tom Moore will be drawing up pages of plays to get the ball in his hands inside the 20 yard line. I wouldn’t be shocked if Burress only had 40-50 receptions for 600-700 yards, yet as long as he adds 7-10 touchdowns, this move will be well worth it. The size and reputation he brings to the offense will also create more favorable match-ups for Santonio Holmes, Cotchery, and Dustin Keller.

Rob Celletti: It’s too difficult to try and project raw numbers, but in the end, this can only help the Jets as a team and Mark Sanchez in particular.  A young quarterback with spotty accuracy can only be helped by a big target with great hands, and that’s what Plaxico Burress provides.  The Jets’ red zone woes have been well-documented, so hopefully this signing puts them on track to get that corrected.  Hard to not dream about Plax catching a big touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants.

TJ Rosenthal: I’m not worried about Burress in terms of numbers. I want to see Burress simply grow into re establishing himself as a threat. In the red zone he can be a killer. The great hands and ability to leap make him a very likeable target for any QB.  Plax was a game breaking killer for Big Blue. We don’t expect him to pick up where he left off in mid 2009, now two years later we simply hope that as he gets his game speed back, he becomes a player that needs to be accounted for at all times. That way, the Jets won’t lose a beat on offense with the loss of Braylon Edwards who did a very good job in New York.
When both are at the top of their games though, Edwards is second to Burress in most phases of the position. We expect very good things from the new #17. He has alot to prove. That inner motivation may also bode well for the Jets who cant afford a drop off in production at the position.

Chris Celletti: I think you can expect Burress to take a little time to get back into football shape. He may even be the third option behind Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery until about the halfway point of the season. But I think as the year goes on, he’ll become a go-to for Mark Sanchez, especially in the red zone. While I think he may rank behind Holmes and maybe Dustin Keller in receptions, he may lead the team in receiving TDs when all is said and done.

Cromartie’s Return To Jets Completes The Big Four

“They say Cro is back, Cro is back all #GangGreen fans say is Cro…lol I’m on my FLT headed home glad 2 b a JET…let’s go win a Superbowl” – Antonio Cromartie on Twitter, after re-signing with the Jets early Monday Morning.

Antonio Cromartie is back in Green and White. The deal according to ESPN is for four years, 32 million dollars. That’s eight million a year. Way up from the 1.7 he earned last year as a Jet. His first with the club.

The Jets have now completed the difficult task of locking down the “big four” starting issues they came into this free agency period with just days ago: Working within the cap space in order to lockdown both starting receiver positions, the second cornerback, and starting right tackle. Gang Green did so by working out long term deals in three places while achieving a short term deal for the other.

They brought back WR Santonio Holmes with a five year deal. RT Wayne Hunter, like Cromartie, received a four year deal and the other starting WR Plaxico Burress, was brought on board for one year at three million. A cheaper solution than Braylon Edwards was going to be.

Burress, the former Giant and Steeler, will provide solid production in return for his deal, if he comes back to football in shape and focused after two years away from the NFL.

It has been a great last twenty four hours for the Jets, who have now officially made it past the sting caused by losing Nnamdi Asomugha Friday night to the Eagles. The Jets went big and lost that race, but recovered well from the disappointment over the weekend.

The Burress and Cromartie moves now allow the Jets to open camp with almost every starting position in place. On both sides of the ball. 

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Letting Go Of The Rope: Free Agents and Loose Morals

The latest episode of “Cincinatti Thrift” just ended, and Jonathan Joseph, 2006 first round pick of the Bengals, is a Texan. I am no longer shocked at how poorly run the Bengals are, I just grin and laugh with every failed attempt to keep talent, like when I watch Millionaire Matchmaker.

The Eagles seem to be heading towards the great divide of distraction and celebrity with the signing of Vince Young as a backup QB to Michael Vick, and the best second best corner in football. I repeat, the second best corner in football. Andy Reid seems to be running the hotel of broken egos and other people’s dreams.

While the period of free agency has yet to end, the past few days have signaled a shift in divisions like the NFC East and the AFC South. Before getting into the insanity of Pete Carroll and Chan Gailey, let’s take a quick peek at the Jets recent moves.

The real achievement was the resigning of Santonio Holmes, who will soon become a Pro Bowl receiver in one to two years time. Having Holmes takes pressure off their number two receiver, which will most likely be Plaxico Burress. What does this do for Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller? Single coverage.

Just this morning I was in the company of a good friend of mine who happens to be a Giants fan, when I received word that Plaxico Burress joined the Jets, and in his quotes, happened to cryptically bash Tom Coughlin while gushing about Rex Ryan. To break the news about his favorite ex-convict joining Rex & the boys made me want to scream with joy. The Jets now have one of the top ten passing tandems in the league. Two years out of the league, one preseason, they’ll both be ready to go.

On a whim, I decided to watch the 2002 through 2005 seasons in review, where I saw Mike Westhoff continually looking like a genius, regardless of who returned kickoffs and punts. Brad Smith is the ideal Mike Westhoff student. Fast, long, and versatile.

Recently, in a state of complete intoxication, Chan Gailey dreamed of Brad Smith as a starting quarterback. I think it’s going to be interesting after Brad Smith throws 3 interceptions in one game. Too far away from his role as a QB in college to start if he had to. People will get wise to the option very quick. See Auburn vs Oregon last year.

Will we miss Drew Coleman? Yes, but not as much now that we got Cromartie back. Let’s see what Donald Strickland can do on the field as my nickel corner and let Kyle Wilson go for blitzes and bump and run.

Cromartie may be under the assumption that he is good enough to be a number one corner. He isn’t. But damn if he isn’t the best number two in the league. Better than Asante Samuel in terms of complete skills. Samuel can play zone exceptionally well, but little else. Cromartie does everything well. Except tackle.

Who else should come back? Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce. The Jets need people to rotate in with their two new draft picks. If the Jets decide to get even more exotic in their blitz schemes, it will require between 2 and 4 down lineman on any given play. Look to Kyle Wilson to be used more in conjunction with Marquice Cole on blitz packages, and the linebacking core to attempt to get one more veteran before free agency is done.

Things may change. We have seen grand gestures and grand failures, the excitement of which has been enough to cause people to stop thinking clearly.

Jets Learn Lesson: Run Misdirection To Burress

It certainly wasn’t the biggest kept secret. The one that had Nnamdi Asomugha going to the Jets. In fact, it was probably one of the least discreet free agent pursuits for a marquee player in Jets history. The lessons learned however, in watching the sly Andy Reid Eagles swoop in to steal the NFL’s top corner on the market by laying low in the shadows, were put in play this morning. The Jets landed Plaxico Burress, the big tall second wide receiver they desperately needed, in less obvious fashion. They didn’t break the bank to do it either.

Burress, who led the Giants to the Super Bowl shocker over the undefeated Pats in 2008, and owner of 55 NFL TDs, became a Jet this morning for one year and three million dollars. This DESPITE  word that the scheduled meeting between the two parties had been “called off.” Burress was in demand. He had completed two positive visits this week already with former employers the Giants and Steelers. The 49ers were said to be waiting for a scheduled meeting with Burress as well. No need for that meeting now.

Perhaps by dimming the spotlight on a situation quickly growing dire for Gang Green (unproven Packers WR James Jones, a player with upside starting potential, was being talked about as a serius contender for the role) the Jets were able to focus, take aim, and grab hold of a much needed piece of the puzzle.

To land Burress, it may have taken a misdirection. An end around. A playing of possum that allowed the Jets time and the chance to make a serious pitch to Burress away from the camera’s eye. Not the detectable three step drop and downfield staring with tunnel vision that came back to bite the Jets late Friday night when “Aso” became an Eagle. A disastrous ending to a high speed chase that caused the Jets, who the media outed as having been at work restructuring deals and cutting salaries to make room for Asomugha, to quickly regroup and form an option B. That being a “no huddle” contingency plan whose goal was to fill the remaining position holes before the free agency clock showed nothing but zeros.

Comparing Braylon Edwards (whose cost would’ve been alot higher even though many Jet fans wanted to see him back in Green and White) to Burress, and the most obvious issues are rust and age. Plax has been in jail the past two seasons and at 33, is five years older than Edwards. However, at the time that Burress left the game after the ‘09 season, few were arguably better at his position.

The Jets can now see the Asomugha drama simply as point taken, starter gained. Should Burress be in top shape, and choose to play the entire 2011 season with a chip on his shoulder, then we may soon be upgrading the viewpoint of today’s signing to one of a serious offensive weapon gained by Rex Ryan’s Jets. Regardless of how it turns out on the field, the addition of Burress was a nice adjustment by the Jets as far as courting players more quietly. During what has been a loud and wild free agency period.

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New York Jets Sign Plaxico Burress

The New York Jets have signed Plaxico Burress to a one year deal for a little over 3 million dollars. At a minimum, Burress will provide an excellent red-zone target for Mark Sanchez and bring some needed size opposite Santonio Holmes. He doesn’t need to immediately provide the Jets 60-70 snaps a game with Jerricho Cotchery still on the roster but hopefully can get somewhere near his production a few years ago with the Giants.

There is a little risk involved on a one year contract, which is good because nobody knows how Burress will produce after sitting in jail for two years. Regardless, this is a nice pull for the Jets who needed some good free agent news after losing out to Nnamdi Asomugha.

The team is reporting to camp today in Florham Park but won’t be on the field until tomorrow. They are still in pursuit of Antonio Cromartie who is deciding between the Jets and the Oakland Raiders. Also they are aggressively going after former Ravens tight end Todd Heap.

NFL Free Agency 2011: New York Jets Moving Forward

Post Nnamdi thoughts —

1. Cornerback – The Jets are pushing hard to get Antonio Cromartie back and it won’t easy as at least three other teams are in the bidding for him. They may be forced to overpay for him, as they are now scrambling to fill the spot opposite Darrelle Revis. They did sign Donald Strickland, who if healthy, can be a good nickel corner. The team has also brought back Eric Smith to compete with Dwight Lowery to start at safety opposite Jim Leonhard. Brodney Pool is a goner from everything we have heard. A backup plan for Cromartie at corner, could be trading for Asante Samuel but he isn’t a great fit for the Jets scheme. Chris Carr could be a cheaper alternative.

2. Wide Receiver – The Jets are apparently in pursuit of Plaxico Burress, who will decide between them and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are also considering James Jones, with the interest apparently waning in Randy Moss. Personally, I might like the Jones option the best as he offers the most upside and could be a long term answer opposite Santonio Holmes.

3. The Rest – You would think the Jets will have enough cap space to get Shaun Ellis back now. I would also like to see them resign James Ihedigbo.

NFL Free Agency 2011: Tough Night For New York Jets

Let’s keep it short and sweet. It was a tough night for the New York Jets. Nnamdi Asomugha shocked the world and went to the Philadelphia Eagles (really) and Drew Coleman has bolted for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It is now up to the Jets to kiss and make nice with Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards in an attempt to salvage an extended wait with Nnamdi Asomugha that turned up empty. It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the dominoes fall in free agency now for the Jets who have a cleared a ton of cap space by having Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and LaDainian Tomlinso restructure their contracts and releasing Mark Brunell. There is plenty of money to spend, but who it will be on?

Antonio Cromartie seems to be option number one at cornerback, with Chris Carr as a fallback. Braylon Edwards would seem to be option number one at wide receiver, with either James Jones or Randy Moss as a fallback. Let’s see what Mike Tannenbaum still has up his sleeze.

Free Agency Showdown: Jets vs. Dallas For Nnamdi

And there were two…(how great is that picture, by the way?)

Similar to the Houston Texans, the San Francisco 49ers have dropped out of the race for Nnamdi Asomugha, leaving the Jets to battle with the Dallas Cowboys for the services of corner Nnamdi Asomugha. It is Rex Ryan vs. Rob Ryan…an early preview of their week one Sunday Night Showdown, and it should go down in the next few hours.

Can you imagine Rex Ryan’s pre-game speech before their week one game if Asomugha chooses Dallas over them? Fire up Kissing Suzy Kolber for one of their epic parodies of Rex.

In other news, the Jets have released quarterback Kevin O’Connell. They are expected to bring recently released quarterback Mark Brunell back after this Asomugha situation shakes out. They have also signed rookie seventh round pick Greg McElroy to a 4 year contract.