TOJ As Tannenbaum: Free Agent Decisions For New York Jets

I am trying to be an optimist with this whole lockout thing, so if free agency does actually start some time in the next month here is TOJ sitting in the big chair as Mike Tannenbaum and making personnel decisions for the Jets this off-season:

1. Sign Santonio Holmes to a long term deal – Yes, this will likely mean the end of Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith’s stay in New York but in the long run making sure Holmes remains a Jet is the right decision. He is a uniquely gifted and clutch playmaker who can change a game at any second.

2. Sign Antonio Cromartie to a long term deal – You need a consistent, athletic corner opposite Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie handled the job well last season. He is already familiar with the defense and it is too risky to hand the starting job over to Kyle Wilson or a free agent. If the Jets want a bigger role for Wilson in year two, they should let Drew Coleman walk.

3. Bring back Damien Woody – Don’t risk the right tackle spot to Vladimir Ducasse after he didn’t have a proper off-season. Let him spend a full year learning behind Woody at the position and have him take over next year. Wayne Hunter will likely walk in free agency if this happens but the Jets should at least make sure they bring back the versatile Robert Turner for depth.

4. Bring back Shaun Ellis – He is a longest tenured player on the team, a leader on the defense and would be a perfect mentor to Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets should be able to work a short term deal to allow him to retire in green and white.

5. Bring back Brodney Pool – Pool began to develop into the playmaker most of us thought he would be at the end of last season. With a year of this system under his belt, he should flourish in his second year. Eric Smith likely won’t be back if this happens, but if the Jets can bring back James Ihedigbo and if a young player like Emmanuel Cook steps up, their depth should be fine.

6. Veteran Stopgap Receiver – We all have heard all kinds of name thrown around but if Braylon Edwards leaves, I expect the Jets to sign either Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress. Personally, I would sign Burress to a short, incentive-laden deal. He is a more physical player that should be able to do many of the things Edwards did for the Jets offense last season.

7. Linebacker Depth – The Jets need to add another linebacker to their depth chart, whether it requires bringing Jason Taylor back or signing somebody on the cheap like Matt Roth.

Lockout Off-Season: Rounding Up Top Jets Offensive Storylines

Despite the lack of formal workouts and traditional media access, there has still been plenty of storylines that have grown out of this New York Jets lockout infected off-season. Here is a round-up of them, check back later in the day for the top defensive storylines —

Quarterback

  • The continued development of Mark Sanchez’s leadership

Sanchez has further asserted himself as one of the leaders of the team by putting together both “Jets West” and “Jets Lockout Camp.” From what the other players have said this season, it is clear the amount of respect they have for Sanchez and the way he carries himself. One of his best traits is his work ethic and dedication to all things football, regardless of what else he has going on in his life, and his teammates clearly recognize that.

Running Back

  • Shonn Greene moving into the lead back role

Brian Schottenheimer, Rex Ryan, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Shonn Greene all agree that Greene is going to take over as the number one back this year and he is ready for the challenge. It remains to be seen how he can handle 18+ carries on a weekly basis but the only way to find out if you have a lead back is to give him the chance to be one.

  • LaDainian Tomlinson embracing the third down role

As he said in many interviews, including one right here with TOJ…Tomlinson has accepted and embraced the idea of being a third down back this year in the Jets offense. Considering his age and how he wore down at the end of last season, Tomlinson should maximize his effectiveness by being limited to this role.

  • John Conner announced as starting fullback

Nobody expected Tony Richardson back for another year, but this clinched that the fullback job would be handed off to Conner.

Wide Receiver

  • Free Agent Decisions

The endless debate over who the Jets should prioritize bringing back, Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, has arguably been their biggest off-season storyline. Holmes has said he won’t sign a restricted free agent tender and would basically be looking for the most money possible. Edwards has been more diplomatic and discussed the potential of taking a hometown discount. Brad Smith is also a free agent and unless he agrees to come back for less than another team offers, probably won’t be back.

Offensive Line

  • Right Tackle

Damien Woody was released early in the off-season but there is now speculation he could return because of concern about Vladimir Ducasse being ready to step in as a starter. Considering that Ducasse didn’t play a meaningful snap last year, I would think that is a reasonable concern.

TOJ Top Five: New York Jets Free Agency Decisions

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.

Damien Woody Coming Back?

In an interview today with Pro Football Talk, Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta said it is likely that offensive lineman Damien Woody will be back with the New York Jets in 2011 at a “reduced rate.” This corroborates an earlier report by ESPN’s Rich Cimini and makes sense considering how the long the lockout is anticipated to drag on.

The original thinking behind releasing Woody was that second year player Vladimir Ducasse would step into the role but considering his inability to work with the coaching staff due to the lockout, handing the tackle spot off to such an inexperienced player probably isn’t the smartest thing in the world. If the Jets brought back Woody, it would also show they weren’t impressed with the job Wayne Hunter did filling in for him last season, since they could bring back Hunter on a cheaper contract than Woody as a veteran fallback option.

Despite a handful of injuries last season, Woody has been very good for the Jets the past three years and has still only missed a total five games in that time. There is no reason to think he can’t give them another productive season at right tackle and he is still a safer option than Ducasse or Hunter.

While we are talking Jets offensive line, D’Brickashaw Ferguson made the NFL Network’s top 100 players in the league list at #79. Santonio Holmes came in at #76. They are only half way done with the countdown so far and I’d expect Nick Mangold to be in consideration for a top 20 spot and Darrelle Revis to be somewhere in the top ten.

New York Jets Recent Cuts Open Up New Opportunities

There have been varying emotions on the New York Jets recent round of cuts. A mix of joy and disgust as the Vernon Gholston disaster finally came to an end, sadness at seeing respected veterans like Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody go, amusement at Jason Taylor now only wanting to continue his career with the Jets, a team he once despised as much as we despised him, and indifference over Ben Hartsock (sorry #84). Regardless, all of these moves are going to open up new opportunities for other players on the roster and will affect strategy in April’s draft.

Woody – The Jets are expected to have veteran Wayne Hunter and second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse battle for his old spot. For Ducasse, this a make or break battle. The Jets are going to have to admit they may have missed in last year’s second round if Ducasse begins his NFL career by losing consecutive battles to Matt Slauson and Hunter. Towards the end of last season, Hunter showed he could be adequate as a starter but  I am sure the coaching staff is hopeful Ducasse will seize the position and be the long term answer at right tackle.

Jenkins – There is still a good chance Jenkins will come back at a reduced price. Regardless, this just means embracing Sione Pouha as the quality starter he has shown himself to be. It also means the Jets will have to look defensive line early in the draft, as we expected them to anyway.

Gholston – He didn’t play enough to shake up anything on the roster. The coaching staff does seem high on Marcus Dixon at defensive end and Ropati Pitoitua is returning from injury. Expect both players to get a shot at becoming large parts of the defensive line rotation in 2011.

Taylor – He has expressed an interest in returning to the Jets at a reduced price. I have a hard time seeing that happening as the Jets will likely look to get younger at linebacker and defensive end (where Taylor frequently lined up) in the draft. Jamaal Westerman might be a guy who gets more of a shot now that Taylor is gone. Westerman showed some potential in 2009 but wasn’t given much of a chance last season…until he roughed the punter against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

Hartsock – The Jets decided to keep Jeff Cumberland on the roster all of the last season, despite only making him active once in week 17. He showed potential as a pass catcher in the pre-season and clearly the Jets think he can become a bigger part of the offense, which he may need to if Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith don’t return. In terms of blocking, Matthew Mulligan should be able to step into that role as he received occasional reps in run heavy sets last season.

Check Out Hartsock’s Lone Touchdown as a New York Jet at 1:05…and his incredibly lame celebration

New York Jets Release Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor, Vernon Gholston

It is being reported the Jets have released right tackle Damien Woody, nose tackle Kris Jenkins, outside linebacker Jason Taylor, and defensive lineman Vernon Gholston. Quick thoughts….

Damien Woody – The biggest loss out of these four. Woody gave the Jets three quality years at right tackle and was a leader on the offense. He struggled with injuries towards the end of last season and the Jets managed to get by with backup Wayne Hunter filling in. Hunter (who is a free agent) will likely be re-signed and compete with second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse for Woody’s old job. Ducasse was recently moved to right tackle after losing out on the chance to start at guard in his rookie year. Similar to when the Jets released Alan Faneca last year, they will be taking a risk that a younger player on the roster can become an adequate replacement. They guessed right last year, let’s hope they do it again.

Kris Jenkins – Jenkins was a beast for the Jets in 2008 but suffered a season ending injury early in the 2009 season, and then after extensive rehab had another season ending injury in the first quarter of the 2010 season. He has claimed he wants to continue his career and is in the middle of another rehab. The Jets simply owed him too much money to bring back under his current contract. I would guess there is a good chance he is brought back if he agrees to a cheaper deal down the road. If not, Sione Pouha has been very good filling in for him the past two years, however the Jets still need to address their defensive line in this year’s draft.

Jason Taylor – The Jets took a shot with Taylor when it became clear the Miami Dolphins weren’t interested in bringing him back before the 2010 season. He was decent as a rotational player in their defense last year, finishing with 36 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. This team still needs to find a long term answer for their pass rush at the outside linebacker position.

Vernon Gholston – The bust of busts. A guy who wowed at the combine and was drafted with the #6 overall pick to sack the quarterback, yet never registered a single sack in three seasons with the team. Goodbye Vernon.

Moving up the depth chart —

  • RT Wayne Hunter (when he is re-signed)
  • RT Vladimir Ducasse
  • OLB Jamaal Westerman
  • DL Marcus Dixon
  • DL Ropati Pitoitua
  • DL Jarron Gilbert

This also increases the Jets need to draft two to three players for their defensive front seven.

Don’t Forget How Dominant Jenkins Could Be

Should The Jets Let Damien Woody Walk?

The New York Jets news of the day is that last year’s second round pick, Vladimir Ducasse, will be moved from left guard to right tackle. Ducasse was given the chance to compete with Matt Slauson last season for the starting left guard job but was beaten soundly and never contributed in 2010. The decision to move Ducasse is a sensible one, considering Slauson showed he is a capable starter and that Ducasse played tackle (although it was on the left side) in college.

Ducasse’s move to tackle is appropriately raising eyebrows about the future of Damien Woody in a Jets uniform. There is no question that Woody has been a very good player for the Jets since joining the team in 2008. However, he is coming off both a knee and Achilles injury, is 33 years old and has a high cap number for 2011. If you look at the Jets recent history, it isn’t exactly an encouraging formula to expect him back next year.

Considering how many other free agents the Jets have and how Wayne Hunter played in Woody’s absence last season, I would say at this point it would be a surprise if the team doesn’t release him. Hunter is a free agent and the Jets could get him back on the cheap to compete with Ducasse and hopefully see one of them do what Slauson did last season.

Ducasse is going to get another chance to start because he was a second round pick. This move won’t make the Jets immediately better but in the long run we always knew they needed to get younger in Alan Faneca and Woody’s spot. They pulled it off with Faneca last season without missing a beat, let’s hope they can do the same with Woody in 2011.

I can promise you Hunter or Ducasse won’t be as entertaining or personable as Woody but hopefully they can develop into quality right tackles.

Jets vs. Broncos: First Look

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Final Thoughts On Week 5

Offensive MVP – The Offensive Line – It isn’t easy to run for 155 yards on the Minnesota Vikings and the big fellas up front deserve some credit. Matt Slauson is beginning to come along at left guard and after five weeks the Jets have the NFL’s #1 ranked rushing attack…so much for not being able to survive without Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones.

PhotobucketDefensive MVP – Antonio Cromartie – I know he allowed the one touchdown to Randy Moss, but I am not sure he could have defended that play any better. Beyond that, Cromartie was in Darrelle Revis circa 2009 form. There were plenty of valid questions about bringing him over from San Diego, yet since a tough week one, Cromartie has been an excellent addition to the Jets defense.

They Deserve Some Love Too – Drew Coleman & Dwight Lowery…TOJ never hesitates to rip on these two, but they both deserve credit for their play last night and thus far in 2010…Shonn Greene…There is the late touchdown run after the defense is worn down, that we’ve been waiting for…David Harris…Very strong all around game….Calvin Pace…Looked great back out on the field with 1.5 sacks….Nick Folk…Money in the bank, who would have thought?…Steve Weatherford…Having a great season so far in 2010.

Jets vs. Broncos: First Look

The Opponent: The inconsistent Denver Broncos have done one thing very well so far in 2010 and that is throw the football. Surprisingly, Kyle Orton has developed into a big time quarterback (at least statistically) and is getting the job done without any big name receivers. Denver is ranked 2nd in the NFL in passing yards but 32nd in rushing yards. Honestly, they have been completely putrid attempting to the run ball as the stats demonstrate. On defense, they are ranked 25th at stopping the run (Ground and Pound, anyone?) and 16th at stopping the pass.

Denver Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Kyle Orton – 141/213, 1733 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs
  • Running Back: Knowshon Moreno – 39 carries, 111 yards, 2 TDs
  • Running Back: Correll Buckhalter – 32 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD
  • Running Back: Laurence Maroney – 29 carries, 56 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Brandon Lloyd – 30 receptions, 589 yards, 3 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Eddie Royal – 29 receptions, 330 yards, 2 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Jabab Gaffney – 31 receptions, 327 yards, 1 TD
  • Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas – 13 receptions, 161 yards, 1 TD
  • Tight End: Daniel Graham – 11 receptions, 84 yards, 0 TDs
  • Left Tackle: Ryan Clady
  • Left Guard: Stanley Daniels
  • Center: J.D. Walton
  • Right Guard: Chris Kuper
  • Right Tackle: Ryan Harris

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Ryan McBean – 5 tackles
  • Nose Tackle: Jamal Williams – 10 tackles
  • Defensive End: Justin Bannan – 12 tackles
  • Defensive End: Kevin Vickerson – 15 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Mario Haggan – 29 tackles
  • Inside Linebacker: D.J. Williams – 45 tackles, 1.5 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Robert Ayers – 19 tackles, 1.5 sacks
  • Inside Linebacker: Jason Hunter – 22 tackles
  • Corner: Champ Bailey – 10 tackles, 1 INT
  • Corner: Andre Goodman – 2 tackles
  • Corner: Perrish Cox – 17 tackles, 1 INT
  • Safety: Nate Jones – 23 tackles
  • Safety: Brian Dawkins – 27 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT
  • Safety: Renaldo Hill – 21 tackles

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Matt Prater – 9/9 on FGs
  • Punter: Britton Colquitt – 43.9 yards per punt
  • Kick Return: Demaryius Thomas – 33.0 per kick return
  • Punt Return: Eddie Royal – 10.2 per punt return

PhotobucketKey Players: Kyle Orton does a great job spreading the ball around. Brandon Lloyd is turning in a terrific season so far off the scrap heap at wide receiver. Champ Bailey is one of the top corners in football and D.J Williams is a very good all around linebacker.

Injuries: Brian Dawkins will be out. Rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and corner Andre Goodman will likely be out. Robert Ayers will be out with a broken foot. Knowshon Moreno is expected back in the line-up.

Key Storylines: Cross-country trip for the Jets on a short week…Darrelle Revis likely missing another game…Can the Jets running game take advantage of Denver’s defense?

Highlights from Denver’s Loss Last Week

Jets Fans: Take A Deep Breath

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A short and friendly reminder to Jets fans who are quickly losing confidence in their team as a Super Bowl contender:

The games in August don’t count. This is the pre-season. There is no need to even recollect the countless examples of teams having strong pre-seasons and then being terrible or the reverse. Obviously, it would be nice to see Mark Sanchez play a little more consistent and the passing game connect on a few more big plays. Of course, Antonio Cromartie isn’t as good as Darrelle Revis. Yes, it is a big blow that Calvin Pace will miss the first four games.

Yet, I remember Sanchez playing god-awful in a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens last year before coming out of the gate on fire, en route to a 3-0 start for the Jets. After that, he started to struggle and then finished the year playing better. The thing about Sanchez is that he is a young quarterback who is going to be inconsistent at times. Hopefully, he will be less inconsistent in 2009 than he was in 2010. Don’t forget the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game with him throwing 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions, while completing a little over 50 percent of his passes. He won’t be anywhere near that bad this season. The guy clearly has talent but you have to expect some inconsistencies to linger in his second year.

The Jets played four games without Calvin Pace last season and went 3-1. They are now better equipped to deal with his absence because of the Jason Taylor signing and because Vernon Gholston appears to be improved from last year.

Simply put, not having Darrelle Revis sucks. The Jets secondary is going to suffer without him but that doesn’t mean they are going to look like the Giants last year defending the pass, and be allowing 40 points a game. At this point, even if Revis returns he won’t be playing at his 2009 level until the middle of the season, if he doesn’t get hurt before. Revis Island is gone. Don’t expect to see that kind of play until late October, if he actually decides he can stomach playing football for 120 million dollars.

The Jets defense is still going to be very, very good this year. They can still run the football as well as any team in the league. These two things mean the Jets are going to be competitive every week and win more times than they lose, because they still have superior talent to just about all the teams they will face, even without Revis. It is a well-coached, highly motivated team that has quality veteran leadership (Richardson, Cotchery, Leonhard, Scott, Woody, Jenkins,) and plenty of skill spread across the roster.

Take a deep breath Jets fans, August is over and we survived with only key injury and the guy will be back for week 5. September is here and we are still a Super Bowl contender.

Mark Sanchez Will Be Fine

TOJ TV…Of Course

Change Of Perspective: Jets Training Camp

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In case you have been living under a rock…

1. The Jets officially locked down Nick Mangold today with a 7 year, 55 million dollar contract with 22.5 million dollars guaranteed. Anytime you can lock down the best center in the NFL, along with one of the best left tackles in the NFL within a few months of each other, it is a job well done.

2. The “Darrelle Revis…he says, she says” battle waged on today, with Tim Cowlishaw’s report picking up a little more support. Fanhouse is also now reporting a deal should be done in the next few days, as is Bill Daughtry of ESPN 1050 Radio, along with ESPN News. Beyond that, I get the impression from a OCNN representative I am in contact with that a deal is going to happen sometime this week (OCNN = OchcoCinco News Network, which Darrelle Revis recently became a part of). I would strongly advise Twitter users to closely monitor the following accounts @OGOochoCinco, @ocnnfeed, and @Revis24.

3. Also, Turn On The Jets will be appearing on the New York Sports Exchange tonight http://www.themirl.com/nyse.html at 9:20 PM to talk Mangold, Revis and plenty of other Jets related topics.

4. The Jets have signed wide receiver Brooks Foster and safety Keith Fitzhugh, along with releasing offensive tackle Adam Tadish and receiver Vic Hall.

5. Rex Ryan strongly implied the Jets will keep both Tony Richardson and John Conner on their 53 man roster and that Jason Davis even might have a chance to stick. It is a very smart move by the Jets to keep Richardson around.

Change Of Perspective: Jets Training Camp

As the Jets head into their third pre-season game, my perspective on a few issues surrounding the team has begun to shift, while others have been reinforced —

Matt Slauson/Vladimir Ducasse – Prior to training camp it seemed like Vladimir Ducasse would basically be handed the starting left guard job. Rex Ryan has spoken before about his desire to play high draft picks and I didn’t think the Jets were about to sit their second round pick (and a guy they nearly took in the first round) for a 6th round pick from 2009 with no experience. However, it now appears the battle is all but over and Slauson will be the opening day starter at left guard. You have to give credit to Slauson, who took advantage of his knowledge of the offense and Ducasse’s difficult transition to the NFL from Division I-AA. The real question is if the Jets will now begin grooming Ducasse to take over for Damien Woody at right tackle and are comfortable with Slauson as the long term answer at guard.

Kellen Clemens/Mark Brunell – Prior to camp, I adamantly stated that Kellen Clemens should remain the number two quarterback, while Mark Brunell fills the #3/mentor to Mark Sanchez position. I still feel the exact same way, even though Rex Ryan refuses to budge on Brunell being the primary backup. Brunell hasn’t thrown a meaningful pass in three full seasons and is going to be 40 years old. Kellen Clemens knows the offensive system better, can move around better, and has easily outplayed Brunell in both pre-season games.

PhotobucketJoe McKnightI was skeptical to judge McKnight so early after his rough start in rookie minicamp. However, he hasn’t given Jets fans much to be optimistic about this summer. I don’t know about you but I already miss Leon Washington. There were signs of life from him against the Carolina Panthers, including an electric punt return but he struggled to hold on to the football. Hopefully, it will click for McKnight sooner rather than later.

LaDainian Tomlinson – I was hesitant about how much Tomlinson would be able to give the Jets offense this season. Let’s be honest, the guy looked pretty much done in 2009. Yet, Tomlinson has had a strong camp by all accounts and looked like he had plenty left in both pre-season games. It appears Tomlinson is going to get more carries and playing time than I initially expected and he looks up to it. I am thinking he can give the Jets over 900 total offensive yards and maybe 6-9 total touchdowns.

Backup Wide Receivers – I thought David Clowney would have a lock on one of the final roster spots, although Aundrae Allison would push him. However, Danny Woodhead and Larry Taylor are putting together strong summers and I wouldn’t be shocked if either made the roster over Clowney. Yes, I know Woodhead is technically a running back but he still lines up at receiver frequently and if he does make the roster, it will be at the expense of Clowney and the other backup receivers.

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