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.

2011 NFL Free Agency: New York Jets Day Two Primer

Let’s get right to it

The only official move the Jets have made so far is resigning right tackle Wayne Hunter to a 4 year, 13 million dollar deal. It is also being reported that in conjunction with this move Damien Woody has retired.

– The Washington Redskins have resigned Santana Moss to a 3 year, 15 million dollar deal and just signed Donte Stallworth to a one year deal. This would seem to indicate they have less money to throw at Santonio Holmes, but you never know with Daniel Snyder.

– Speaking of Holmes, Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger is reporting the Jets have made a formal contract offer to him. ESPN’s Rich Cimini has also followed up today that it is likely Holmes will end up staying in New York.

– Manish Mehta of The Daily News is reporting cornerback Drew Coleman is likely to leave via free agency.

– It is being widely reported that wide receiver Brad Smith will likely sign with the Chicago Bears today.

– ESPN’s Rich Cimini is reporting the Jets are pursuing outside linebacker Antwan Barnes and cornerback Drayton Florence.

– It is widely being reported the Jets are making a strong push to bring safety Eric Smith back. We haven’t heard anything about Brodney Pool yet.

– And now the biggest news, the Nnamdi Asomugha to the Jets talk is heating up by the second. After The Star-Ledger reported yesterday the team made formal contact with him, the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi has stated today “I keep hearing from well place reliable NFL source that this Jet talk and Nnamdi Asomugha is serious, and I mean serious.”

We can only imagine the smile on Rex’s face.

New York Jets Free Agency: The Other Guys

There has been no shortage of talk about the appropriate fates in free agency for Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, and Brad Smith…but what about the other unrestricted free agents the New York Jets have to make decisions on?

Shaun Ellis – Personally, I think it is a smart investment to bring Ellis back on a one or two year deal to help him mentor rookie Muhammad Wilkerson. He is also a leader in the locker room who clearly has plenty left in tank, as evidenced by his performance against New England in the playoffs last year. Unfortunately, I could see the Jets not matching his contract demands, especially after his request for a restructured deal last season didn’t happen.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Brodney Pool – He came on strong at the end of last year and finally began to look like the playmaker the Jets signed him to be. Pool should command a good amount of interest in the open market, so it will be up to the Jets to determine how much of an upgrade he is over Eric Smith.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Trevor Pryce – Rex Ryan compared Muhammad Wilkerson to a young Trevor Pryce and he would be a cheaper, although less productive, mentor to the rookie than Shaun Ellis. I could very easily see the Jets choosing to bring him back over Ellis in order to save money.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Tony Richardson – Likely to retire and if he decides not to, the Jets aren’t going to bring him back considering they have John Conner ready to step into the starting role.

  • TOJ Votes – Retire T-Rich, you had a great career.
  • TOJ Predicts – T-Rich retires.

Steve Weatherford – Despite an inconsistent performance in the playoffs, Weatherford was still pretty good overall last year, especially at pinning teams deep. Considering the musical chairs they played at punter before Weatherford, I think the Jets will bring him back…besides, who else is bringing the shake weights to camp?

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Wayne Hunter – Originally it looked like he could compete with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle spot. I now think because of the lockout, the Jets will opt to bring Damien Woody back and have Ducasse spend a year learning behind him at the position, which likely means good-bye to Hunter.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk, spend the money on Woody instead.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Lance Laury – A special teamer, who was fairly quiet on special teams for the Jets last season. However, they are very thin at linebacker.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk to give more of a chance to players like Josh Mauga.

Eric Smith – A versatile safety, who is also very good at special teams. The Jets will ultimately have to choose between him and Brodney Pool and I think Pool projects better as a starter opposite Jim Leonhard.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Drew Coleman – Struggles in coverage, but he is a playmaker at the nickel back position. The decision on Antonio Cromartie could go a long way to determining his fate. He isn’t helped by the fact that the coaching staff likely wants to give more reps to Kyle Wilson, who was a first round pick last year.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk to give Kyle Wilson and Marquice Cole more playing time.

James Ihedigbo – An effective blitzer in many of the Jets packages and a good special teams player, who seems to be a Rex Ryan guy.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Nick Folk – Inconsistent at times last year but I don’t see the Jets just handing the job off to Nick Novak.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

As for Kellen Clemens, I think we all know he is gone. Perhaps if Justin McCariens didn’t have a bad day back in 2007, things would have went differently…

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.

Dwight Lowery: The Forgotten Defensive Back

One of the few New York Jets defensive backs who isn’t a free agent, is cornerback/safety Dwight Lowery. There hasn’t been talk about Lowery’s role with the team moving forward this off-season, yet he was a key part of their defense in 2010.

Similar to Drew Coleman, Lowery was a defensive back who rotated into their various nickel, sub, and dime packages and made a surprisingly high amount of impact plays. He finished the season with 3 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns, 2 sacks, 7 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Most notably, Lowery iced the Jets win over the Vikings with an interception return for a touchdown and then their win over the Denver Broncos the following week with a fumble recovery.

Due to injuries, Lowery began to work more at safety towards the end of last season. Many people have been clamoring for him to move there, considering his ball skills and how he struggles in man to man coverage at cornerback. Lowery’s primary position will likely depend on which free agents are brought back out of Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo. Obviously, it is a benefit to the Jets that Lowery has shown he can play both positions and he should remain a big part of their defense moving forward.

I am not sure if Lowery is physical enough to play safety full time, but he does fit well there in pass heavy situations. The more the Jets can let Lowery roam in zone coverage, the better, because he lacks the ideal speed to match-up with most receivers in single coverage.

New York Jets Free Agency Rumor Round-Up

Track all of the latest New York Jets free agency updates on TOJ’s stream at SB Nation NY

A few comments on how the New York Jets will approach free agency…

1. Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t going to happen…so get the dreams of the two best corners in the NFL being on a single team out of your head. The Jets aren’t going to break the bank for him with so many free agents of their own, including a cheaper option than Asomugha at corner in Antonio Cromartie.

2. Regardless of Asomugha not happening, the Jets still need to address their cornerback position either by bringing back Cromartie or by signing somebody else like Ike Taylor or Jonathan Joseph. They didn’t draft a pass rusher and it is doubtful they will find a high impact player in free agency, hence they need as much coverage as they can get. Other corners they could look at include Carlos Rogers, Richard Marshall, Chris Carr, and Fabian Washington.

3. If I had to guess today, I would still say it is more likely that Santonio Holmes comes back before Braylon Edwards. However, I am more confident today than I was when the season ended about both of them coming back. Edwards has already gone on record saying he would offer some type of a hometown discount and if Holmes does the same, you never know what could happen. I don’t see any way Brad Smith ends up coming back. Another team will give him more money than the Jets will be willing to offer along with a bigger role on offense.

4. If the Jets lose Braylon Edwards, I am not against giving Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress a shot (no pun intended). Chad Ochocinco or Steve Smith is going to command too much money, yet the Jets should be able to get Moss or Burress on a cheap, short-term deal. The recent talk makes Moss sound like more of a possibility and I might be crazy but I think he could be productive for the Jets on the outside, especially with the attention Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery need to receive in the slot.

5. In the less likely case that Edwards returns and Santonio Holmes leaves. I think the team should focus on signing Green Bay’s James Jones. Edwards is going to cost less money than Holmes so if he leaves, the Jets would have more money to invest in a longer contract to a younger player with more upside, like Jones.

6. Outside of Croamrtie in the secondary, I think the Jets will focus on getting Brodney Pool back to start at safety and then work towards getting either Eric Smith or James Ihedigbo back as a reserve. Drew Coleman is very up in the air. It depends on how they decide to handle Cromartie.

New York Jets: Is It Smart To Let Drew Coleman Walk?

One of the less heralded Jets free agents is cornerback Drew Coleman, who prior to the 2010 season was one of the least popular players on the team amongst fans. He struggled heavily in 2009, especially in single coverage and many didn’t even expect him to stick on the roster in 2010. However, Coleman responded by climbing the depth chart and putting together a career year as the Jets nickel back.

He finished with 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 1 interception, and 5 forced fumbles. Despite occasional struggles in coverage, Coleman was still one of the Jets biggest playmakers on defense and one of their better special teams players.

This off-season the Jets have to deal with re-signing defensive backs Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo along with Coleman. You can make an argument that it was Coleman who had the best overall season out of all those players, outside of Cromartie.

Should the Jets make a strong effort to bring Coleman back or should they let him walk and hope Kyle Wilson can take over his role? Bringing Coleman back becomes an easier decision if Cromartie walks because more money would be freed up and the Jets would badly need the depth. Yet, if Cromartie returns the coaching staff might want to let Wilson, last year’s first round draft pick, have the opportunity to get more reps at the nickel spot. Wilson has more size and upside than Coleman and should develop into a better player in coverage. However, does he have the same knack for getting to the quarterback and making big plays?

Drew Coleman was a valuable piece of the Jets defense last year and if he leaves via free agency, it will be up to a player like Wilson or maybe even Marquice Cole to fill his production.

New York Jets: Enough Free Agent DBs To Make Your Head Hurt

Who should stay and who should go?

When discussing the New York Jets free agents, it is easy to get caught up in the Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and to a lesser extent, Brad Smith debate. They are big name players and everybody wants to make sure Mark Sanchez has the necessary weapons to succeed. However, don’t overlook how many free agents the Jets have in their secondary, which is priority number one on a Rex Ryan football team —

Antonio Cromartie

  • Starting Corner – 42 tackles, 17 passes defensed, 3 INTs
  • Physical freak, good compliment to Darrelle Revis
  • Always provides an intriguing quote
  • Inconsistent at times, can struggle with penalties
  • Still not a very good tackler

I won’t add too much on to the 1,000,000 words I have written this off-season about the importance of Cromartie returning. The bottom line is that Kyle Wilson isn’t ready to take over as a starter yet so the Jets need Cromartie back.

Drew Coleman

  • Nickel Corner – 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 5 Forced Fumbles
  • Nose for the football and making big plays
  • Valuable special teams player
  • Struggles in man coverage
  • Lacks ideal size

Say what you want about Coleman, he makes plays and he was the Jets third best corner last season, which is a big role in a Rex Ryan defense. Will the coaching staff let him walk to give Kyle Wilson more reps?

Brodney Pool

  • Starting Safety – 53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble
  • Came on strong at end of last year
  • Has tough time staying healthy
  • More reliable in pass coverage than Eric Smith

Pool probably has more upside than Eric Smith as a starting safety opposite Jim Leonhard, but can he stay healthy for 16 games?

Eric Smith

  • Starting Safety – 54 tackles, 1 sack
  • Smart, physical player
  • Excellent on special teams
  • Struggles in pass coverage
  • He has also dealt with injury issues

Smith is a more valuable all around player than Brodney Pool who Rex Ryan has grown to love. He is really better suited to be a #3 safety and a special teamer than a full time starter.

James Ihedigbo

  • Extra Defensive Back, Blitz Specialist – 22 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Very good special teams player
  • Physical and aggressive
  • Limited range in pass coverage

Ihedigbo has turned into a nice role player on the Jets defense, who remains a core special teams player. They should be able to work something out to bring him back. He is capable of being a #3 safety if Smith or Pool leaves.

New York Jets: Is Kyle Wilson Ready?

There was a time last summer when some of us pretended not to sweat the Darrelle Revis holdout as much as we should have because of how the coaching staff was raving about Kyle Wilson.

Revis would eventually return and then the Baltimore game happened…

Wilson was badly exposed in single coverage and began a season long struggle with playing the football in the air and picking up pass interference penalties. He was eventually passed on the depth chart by Drew Coleman and was barely a factor down the stretch, except when an interception slammed off his face mask in the AFC Championship Game.

Wilson also never stepped up in the return game, he struggled enough last year that many people, including Rex Ryan, only mentioned Jerricho Cotchery and Joe McKnight as the likely candidates to replace Jim Leonhard on punt return this year.

Despite writing 100,000 words advising against it, there is still a very real chance Antonio Cromartie won’t return next year, which will lead to the need for Wilson to move into the starting line-up. He didn’t show anything last year to make us believe he is capable of handling that role and the lack of off-season workouts this year can’t be helping.

However, there was a reason Wilson was drafted in the first round. He obviously has talent and perhaps his rookie year provided a valuable lesson on adjusting to the NFL. If the front office decides to let Cromartie leave, Wilson will have one of the most difficult secondary jobs in the league…playing opposite Revis Island, let’s hope he is ready to prove that decision would be correct.

Beyond that, if Cromartie does come back. It would be nice to see Wilson develop into a quality nickel back for now and create a few big plays, similar to the way Drew Coleman did last year.

Reviewing Mike Tannenbaum’s Draft Picks

Most New York Jets fans are appropriately big supporters of General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, his aggressive nature has kept off-seasons entertaining and helped shape the Jets into one of the league’s best teams. With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at every selection Tannenbaum has made since taking over as GM in 2006 —

2006

  • Round 1, Pick 4 – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Nick Mangold
  • Round 2, Pick 49 – Kellen Clemens
  • Round 3, Pick 76 – Anthony Schlegel
  • Round 3, Pick 97 – Eric Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 103 – Brad Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 117 – Leon Washington
  • Round 5, Pick 150 – Jason Pociask
  • Round 6, Pick 189 – Drew Coleman
  • Round 7, Pick 220 – Titus Adams

This was one hell of a draft for Tannenbaum to start his career with. It was a bold move to take two offensive lineman in the first round for a first-time GM, especially deciding to pass on quarterback Matt Leinart, who would have been an extremely popular (but in hindsight an extremely stupid) selection. Ferguson and Mangold have developed into the foundation of the Jets offensive line and are both Pro-Bowl caliber players.

Yes, Kellen Clemens never panned out and the highlight of Anthony Schlegel’s career was muffing an onside kick, but he compensated for it by getting Eric Smith, Brad Smith, Leon Washington, and Drew Coleman in later rounds, who all turned into major contributors on playoff teams.

2007

  • Round 1, Pick 14 – Darrelle Revis
  • Round 2, Pick 47 – David Harris
  • Round 6, Pick 177 – Jacob Bender
  • Round 7, Pick 235 – Chansi Stuckey

Another terrific draft for Tannenbaum who traded up to get Darrelle Revis, who is now the consensus best corner in football and David Harris who is a Pro-Bowl caliber inside linebacker. Bender never amounted to anything but Stuckey turned into a quality player who was an important part of the Braylon Edwards trade.

2008

  • Round 1, Pick 6 – Vernon Gholston
  • Round 1, Pick 30 – Dustin Keller
  • Round 4, Pick 113 – Dwight Lowery
  • Round 5, Pick 162 – Erik Ainge
  • Round 6, Pick 171 – Marcus Henry
  • Round 7, Pick 211 – Nate Garner

Without question Tannenbaum’s worst draft and probably worst overall few days as the Jets GM. Gholston was a complete bust, Ainge had serious drug problems and was suspended multiple times, Henry and Garner never played a regular season snap for the team. Dustin Keller has obviously been an important part of the offense and Lowery has been a serviceable role player but the Gholston pick hurts.

2009

  • Round 1, Pick 5 – Mark Sanchez
  • Round 3, Pick 65 – Shonn Greene
  • Round 6, Pick 193 – Matt Slauson

Two more trade ups that have paid early dividends for the Jets. Say what you want about Mark Sanchez, he certainly has looked the part of the franchise quarterback the Jets drafted him to be by winning four road playoff games in his first two years. Greene was a disappointment in year two but his terrific playoff stretch in his rookie year helped carry the Jets to the AFC Championship Game. Matt Slauson is now the starting left guard and was steady in that role last year.

2010

  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Kyle Wilson
  • Round 2, Pick 61 – Vladimir Ducasse
  • Round 4, Pick 112 – Joe McKnight
  • Round 5, Pick 139 – John Conner

The jury is still very much out on this draft class but the early returns weren’t very good. Wilson struggled heavily his rookie year and barely contributed. Ducasse was beat out by Matt Slauson for the left guard spot and will now compete to be the starting right tackle. McKnight showed up to camp out of shape and didn’t give any meaningful reps all season. Conner showed potential and will be the starting fullback this season.