TOJ New York Jets Free Agency Primer 2.0

TOJ breaks down how the New York Jets could approach free agency as March 13th draws closer

As March 13th gets closer, New York Jets fans are starting to feel a rush of anxiety. They just watched their hyped team flame out at 8-8, while the New York Giants threw salt in the wound with yet another Super Bowl victory. Mike Tannenbaum is out in front of the media saying things like “Wayne Hunter is coming back as the starting right tackle” and the team won’t be taking an overly aggressive approach to free agency…take a breath everybody, let’s go over what we know as of right now –

We know Mike Tannenbaum gives no valuable information to the media. If a player is under contract, Tannenbaum expects him back in the same role next year. If a player is a free agent, the Jets will review their options and make the best decision for the franchise. This is all company line BS. Tannenbaum isn’t giving anything away. The Jets don’t have a ton of money to spend but with a few more maneuvers, will have enough to make a reasonable splash staring March 13th.

Quarterback – The Jets are going to do their due diligence on Peyton Manning, like nearly every team in the NFL will. If they feel like they have a real shot, they will go after him hard with no regard for Mark Sanchez’s feelings. I still say this has about a 5% chance of happening but the Jets will be at the top of the Manning rumor mill under he signs elsewhere. As expected, Chad Henne has also been linked to the Jets as a logical backup to Mark Sanchez. If I was gambling man, I’d put my money on Henne being in New York next year and Manning being in Arizona.

Running Back – No chatter here. It would serve the Jets well to add a low cost veteran but that seems like the type of move that won’t happen until closer to training camp. Joe McKnight is going to be talked up a ton this off-season as a big part of the Jets plans and Bilal Powell will also be hyped as somebody who will receive more of an opportunity.

Wide Receiver – A position of constant debate on Twitter among Jets fans. The impression that I am receiving is that the Jets won’t have enough money to spend on Pierre Garcon or Robert Meachem. If they spend it will be on the third tier of free agent wide receivers, like Early Doucet or Braylon Edwards. There was a Daily News report yesterday that the Jets had interest in bring #17 back if he was “healthy and the price was right” aka on a veteran minimum deal with some incentives attached. The Jets expressing interest in Edwards shows the type of money they are looking to spend at WR this off-season…not much.

Edwards has the potential to give a high return on investment. If you are going cheap at receiver, who would you expect more from than Edwards who has proven he can be productive with Mark Sanchez in New York? What I am saying if there is one receiver the Jets are getting for the veteran’s minimum this off-season that can produce 60 catches, 750 yards, and 6 touchdown, it is Edwards.

Tight End – I still believe if Anthony Fasano gets cut he ends up in New York. Don’t be surprised if the Jets spend more on him than they do on a wide receiver in free agency.

Offensive Line – I really hope Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t talked himself into a Wayne Hunter/Vladmir Ducasse battle for right tackle but I wouldn’t rule it out completely. At this point, I still expect some type of veteran to be brought in for insurance but the market isn’t full of quality options. Vernon Carey makes sense but might end up costing more than the Jets want to spend.

Defensive Line – I am confident Tannenbaum gets Sione Pouha locked down before free agency starts.

Linebacker – Jarrett Johnson is the first name that has been linked to the Jets with any kind of mainstream media report. It makes sense, as he is familiar with Rex’s system and could be a veteran stopgap to be paired with a first round pick at outside linebacker. Rex Ryan needs to drop the “I can get a pass rush from anybody” attitude and the Jets need to get a player who can get double digit sacks in a season. If there is an aggressive approach in the draft, pass rushing outside linebacker needs to be the position that is targeted.

Secondary – There is a crop of talented safeties out there and if the Jets are going to spend money at a position, than why not here? You are trying to beat a team that features Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez out for the your division, remember? Tyvon Branch, Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry and Michael Griffin are all out there.

New York Jets Ready To Move On From Bart Scott

Bart Scott’s time with the New York Jets appears to be coming to an end

It is being reported today that the New York Jets have given inside linebacker Bart Scott permission to seek a trade. There are rumors a handful of teams are interested, as long as the compensation is some type of food product or memorabilia. What you thought teams would be lining up to hand out players or picks to pay Scott 4.2 million guaranteed next year? Unfortunately that is a little high for a slow linebacker who can’t be on the field for passing downs…especially in a predominantly passing game.

The only way the Jets might receive even a late round pick is if Scott restructures his contract…in the end it is more likely that he will be cut. The cap hit will be hard to take but it is a necessary move in retooling this defense into a quicker, more versatile unit. I wouldn’t expect the Jets to find a replacement in free agency. Instead don’t be surprised to see them spend a mid-round draft pick on a inside linebacker and give Josh Mauga a larger role. It won’t be a popular move but adding a premium inside linebacker, alongside finding a outside linebacker, two safeties, a wide receiver, and right tackle just might not happen.

At least Bart Scott left us with this –

TOJ Monday Night Rant: New York Jets Passing Game

TOJ with a Monday night rant on the New York Jets passing game

Considering the disappointment of the 2011 NFL season, I find it fitting to kick off the next few weeks with a rant. Today’s topic is the New York Jets passing game…or lack thereof.

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Watching the New York Jets passing game last year was an ongoing exercise in frustration. You know how your favorite NFL team has the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage by completing 15-20 yard passes to open receivers? Well, the Jets didn’t have that ability. It was at the point where if it was 3rd and 8 or longer, you knew they weren’t converting because it didn’t seem they had a play in their playbook to pick up the necessary yardage.

The Jets passing game last year consisted of check downs, 5 yard stop routes to Dustin Keller, 4 yard crossing patterns on 3rd and 12, and of course slants…and then more slants.

The blame falls on a number of people: Mark Sanchez, the wide receivers, former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and inconsistent pass protection to start. Basically, you had the toxic recipe of an awful right tackle, a usually premier left tackle having a down year, an offensive coordinator with limited downfield playcalls, a quarterback who struggles heavily with the pass rush in his face, a painfully slow #2 receiver, and #1 receiver double teamed who was playing frustrated. Yikes.

What is the solution? Tony Sparano isn’t known for his passing game knowledge and the Jets never got around to hiring that “passing game coordinator” there was talk of. However, Sparano should help improve the protection up front which will go a long way towards helping improve Mark Sanchez’s play. If you have watched Sanchez since he started playing in the NFL, you know he has enough arm strength to make the deep throws necessary but he needs the protection, personnel, and playcalling to support him.

Sparano has emphasized he wants to pick up “chunks” of yardage through the passing game, despite having a run first approach. He will need to find a way to create mismatches for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes, along with Jeremy Kerley in the slot for that happen. Hopefully they will be supported by a split end with some speed via the draft or free agency, which will help open things up. He should also work to get Joe McKnight out in space in the passing game. He has the receiving skills to make a large impact in both the screen game and being split out wide.

Fellow TOJ writer Rob Celletti asked me numerous times this season, “how come the Jets can get a broken coverage, where a corner falls down or the defense makes a mistake to allow them to get an easy big play?” The reason was the Jets never threatened down the field, there was nothing for defenses to get confused over or cornerbacks to trip from. Teams would just bracket Shonn Greene on his checkdown and Dustin Keller on his short stop route.

Times need to change with the Jets passing offense and hopefully Sparano can deliver on the “big chunks of yardage” he has talked about.

New York Jets: Where Does Dustin Keller Fit In The New Offense?

Where is Dustin Keller going to fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?

There has been some minor speculation this off-season about the potential of Dustin Keller being traded. Yet, it remains more likely he will remain on the New York Jets roster next season as an integral part of their offense. The question is, how will Tony Sparano use a tight end who is not much of a blocker and has a skill set more suited to being a wide receiver?

First off, the Jets are going to add a blocking tight end after parting ways with Matthew Mulligan (better known as “Holding. Number 82”). If Anthony Fasano gets cut, which seems like a strong possibility, look for the Jets to add him. Fasano or whatever blocking tight end is added is going to have a large role on the offense as a key part of the running game.

Keller is likely to see less reps in the traditional tight end spot. Look for Sparano to have him help fill the gaping hole the Jets currently have at split end by using him both as a H-Back and putting him out wide.

We have discussed the possibility of adding Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon or Laurent Robinson here. Unfortunately, those three remain fairly long shots. Garcon is likely headed back to Indianapolis, where the Colts have prioritized him over Reggie Wayne. Robinson and Meachem will both be sought after by many teams. Are the Jets and their Ground and Pound approach really going to spend big money on a wide receiver in the free agent market? Beyond that, couldn’t you see them having reservations about coming into this offense, especially with both coming from wide-open passing attacks?

I think it is more likely the Jets will spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on a wide receiver with some size and groom him for the starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes. For the upcoming year, Keller could spend a chunk of reps at receiver, along with Jeremy Kerley taking some reps on the outside, while the rookie is working up to speed.

Tony Sparano is going to look at Dustin Keller and see more of a wide receiver than a tight end, so anticipate him being used that way and for the Jets to spend more money on a free agent tight end than a free agent wide receiver.

Early New York Jets Draft Thoughts

TOJ with a collection of early thoughts on what the Jets could do in April’s draft

The NFL Draft is still a few months away but with the Combine kicking off today, let’s discuss some of the early chatter about what the Jets might do this April.

1. There has been an alarming amount of talk about the Jets selecting a guard in the first round, which I am pretty sure would lead to a storming of the stage at Radio City. Listen, I understand the value of the offensive line but the Jets had three Pro-Bowlers on their line last season. They need to improve one spot on it and that is right tackle. Yes, Matt Slauson is coming back from surgery and Brandon Moore is into his 30s but if they draft a lineman in round one…it better be a right tackle and it better be after trading down.

2. So my preference is clear, I want the Jets to address their pass rush in round one even if that means moving up a few spots to get their guy. Courtney Upshaw is the most complete, ready to go player available at outside linebacker and if gets anywhere near #16 Mike Tannenabaum needs to move.

3. Mark Barron was a player originally being heavily associated with the Jets at the 16th overall pick. However, he is now recovering from double hernia surgery which will likely cause him to fall down most team’s boards. If he gets within close range of the team’s 2nd round pick (47th overall), would they consider moving up for him…especially if they stay put or trade down in the first round?

4. I am aware about the Jets having depth issues from having a limited number of picks in recent years, so it might seem crazy that I am discussing them moving up with their first two picks. However, if you get the guys you want…and need, it is the right move. Do you remember 2007? The Jets traded up for both Darrelle Revis and David Harris. I do not think the Jets will move up in both round one and round two but if they netted a duo like Upshaw and Barron by trading one or two of those picks it will be hard to complain.

5. Mike Tannenbaum has selected four running backs over the past three years and I don’t think anybody would be surprised if he added another one in the middle rounds. The Jets still need depth at the position thanks to Shonn Greene not truly proving himself as a lead back, Joe McKnight having injury issues, and Bilal Powell looking thoroughly average in limited opportunities last year. I am not throwing in the towel on any of the Jets three backs but they need insurance via free agency or the draft.

6. The Jets also need a wide receiver, particularly one with some size. Tannenbaum struck out looking for a big receiver when he selected Marcus Henry. He has had success in later rounds with smaller, slot receivers like Chansi Stuckey and Jeremy Kerley (hopefully). Now he needs to find a player to be a long term split end, unless he address the need in free agency.

New York Jets: What Is A Successful Off-Season?

What will be considered a successful off-season for the New York Jets?

The upcoming New York Jets off-season is likely going to disappoint a large portion of the team’s fanbase. Every need isn’t going to be filled. That being said, what do the Jets have to take care of, at a minimum, in the upcoming months for Mike Tannenbaum to do a satisfactory job?

It starts up front on both sides of the football, which means getting Sione Pouha signed to a 2-3 year deal to make sure he can keep anchoring the Jets run defense. On offense, that means bringing in a veteran right tackle to compete with Wayne Hunter, somebody along lines of a Vernon Carey. The offensive line should also be supported with a mid-round pick to develop.

Improving the pass rush is of equal priority. Mario Williams isn’t happening. There are a few decent stopgap players available in free agency like Anthony Spencer and Manny Lawson. If Tannenbaum is thinking big on draft day, it should be at this position. The Jets aren’t going to need to sell the farm to move up to get an elite pass rusher but if they need to move up to the 12-14 range to get their guy, Tannenbaum shouldn’t hesitate.

Safety is a position the Jets could address in free agency and support with a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Tyvon Branch or Michael Griffin are worth the investment on the open market and look for Jim Leonhard to be brought back on a veteran’s minimum deal to provide depth.

There is a need at wide receiver but compared to right tackle, linebacker, and safety the need is a luxury. Don’t be shocked if the Jets don’t add a starting caliber free agent at receiver. This is a run first team and the priority to spend in free agency at the position is lower than other spots on the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets add a mid-round receiver with some size and go into camp with him, Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner competing for reps opposite of Santonio Holmes, with Dustin Keller having a much larger role split out at receiver, while the team signs a blocking tight end to pair with him.

Beyond that, another quarterback is going to be brought in. I have a tough time seeing it being anyone besides Chad Henne on a cheap, one year deal. It is a necessary, logical move considering his history with Tony Sparano.

Hypothetically, if Tannenbaum brought back Pouha, signed Vernon Carey to play right tackle, signed Branch or Griffin at safety, and Henne to be the backup quarterback and then on draft day got a pass rushing OLB in round one, along with a safety and wide receiver in the middle rounds. Would you consider that a successful off-season? I would.

New York Jets Off-Season Discussion- Featuring NY Jets 101

TOJ and NY Jets 101 discuss the Jets off-season and draft

Throughout the New York Jets off-season TOJ will be discussing their ongoing free agency and draft situation with various other writers. Today we talked with Donald Lappe from Jets 101 on a number of different topics

NYJ101 – There is a lot of different things floating around about the Jets’ salary cap issues. Putting the salary cap craziness aside, what should be their first order of business when free agency opens?

TOJ – The Jets need to take care of their own first, which means bringing back Sione Pouha. This team has made a bad habit of letting leaders…and productive leaders at that walk away from the team. They need him back both as an anchor to their run defense in the 3-4 and one of the few people worthy of a “C” on his chest in the locker room.

NYJ101 – The guaranteed salary jump for Wayne Hunter basically means he’ll be on the roster this season. Are the Jets going to ride with him as their starter on the right side? Do you expect a new face to be brought in or will the competition be between him and some lesser-knowns(Howard, Ducasse, Rob Turner if he’s back)?

TOJ – I expect the Jets to bring in a mid-level free agent, maybe somebody like Vernon Carey and to spend a middle round pick on a right tackle. In camp, there should be an open competition for the job. Ideally, Hunter settles into a backup role and only plays in their “big” packages.

NYJ101 – The Jets are in the market for younger, somewhat cheap wide receiver to play across from Santonio Holmes. Any names that jump out at you?

TOJ – There are three that jump out: Robert Meachem, Laurent Robinson, and Pierre Garcon. Meachem in particular has the speed and upside to be a potentially great fit opposite of Holmes. I don’t think Indy is going to let Garcon walk but if they do, the Jets should take a long at him.

NYJ101 – You’re in the Jets’ War Room on draft day. What is the one thing you don’t let Rex and Tanny walk away from the draft without?

TOJ – A pass rushing outside linebacker. This problem has been ignored for far too long by the Jets front office. They need somebody who can get after the quarterback without Rex Ryan having to dial up a blitz.

NYJ101 – The Jets have shown a willingness to trade up and get their guy(Sanchez, Revis). They have a good amount of needs. Are you trading up for an impact guy or are you stockpiling picks?

TOJ – They haven’t had a high amount of draft picks in recent years, which has hurt their depth. However, after the compensatory picks are handed out the Jets should have 8-9 total picks this time around. While I would like to see them leave the draft with about that many players, I wouldn’t object to making a move to acquire Courtney Upshaw or another pass rusher.

NYJ101 – It’s pick No. 16 and Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron and Melvin Ingram are all available. Who are you taking?

TOJ – Upshaw. He is somebody who played on a championship defense in college and can make an immediate impact getting after the quarterback.

TOJ – Are you confident in Shonn Greene as the Jets lead back? What kind of potential do you think Joe McKnight has in this offense going forward?

NYJ101 – I really am confident in Greene to be the main guy. There’s a lot of different opinions on Greene and I think that comes from his running style. He’s a plodder, but he wears on the defense as the game goes along. Early on in the season the Jets were quick to move away from him when the early returns in individual games were 2-3 yard per carry. I think a great example of the strength of Shonn Greene is the Redskins game. Before his 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter he only had 63 yards on 21 carries, but he helped the Jets control the pace of the game, chew up the clock and when the Redskins defense was tired at the end of the game he delivered the knockout blow.

McKnight has a great chance to grow in this offense. It’s an interesting parallel for him in his career with Tony Sparano coming in because he was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush at USC and now Sparano comes to the Jets after Bush was his feature back in Miami. He’s not going to see anywhere near the carries Bush did last season, but 5-10 carries a game and more of an emphasis on him in the screen game would be a nice step this season. On a team that is desperate for speed and big plays, McKnight has to get more touches on offense this season.

TOJ – Would you bring Jim Leonhard back on a veteran minimum deal to provide insurance at safety?

NYJ101 – Seems like the smart move. The injuries were really freak occurrences and the coverage issues with him and Eric Smith are a product of the pair more than any one player. While it’s easy to say the team needs an upgrade at safety, it’s a completely different thing to find an available one at a price that works. I think the best way the Jets can address their safety issues is with an improved pass rush. Leonhard is smart, tough and should be cheap.

TOJ – Would you eat the guaranteed money to Bart Scott and cut him anyway?

NYJ101 – This is a tough one. The problem becomes eating that salary and then finding a replacement that is legitimately better and doesn’t sabotage addressing the other needs the team has. I don’t think the team believes in Josh Mauga as an every-down linebacker. You have to keep Scott and hope that he has a bit of a bounce back season. He showed some flashes of the old Bart late in the season. He’s not going to be the player he was a few years ago, but getting one more season out of him is the way to go.

TOJ – Who do you think will be the team’s breakout player this year?
NYJ101 – Marcus Dixon. Dixon’s story is one worth reading about and the obstacles in his path to the NFL have turned him into a potential late-bloomer. He was an SEC recruit but ended up at Hampton(a lot like Kenrick Ellis), then went undrafted. At 6-4, 295, he can play the end spot in the 3-4 and showed an ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage – something the Jets defensive line doesn’t do very often. When he got consistent playing time over three games from weeks 13-15 he put up a combined nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The Jets defense needs those negative plays as badly as their offense needs explosive plays. Dixon can provide that.
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Five Free Agents For The New York Jets

Five free agents for the New York Jets to consider this off-season

Check out TOJ talking Jets off-season at Zone Blitz

It remains to be seen how active the New York Jets will be truly be in free agency. Outside of bringing Sione Pouha back, they don’t have any of their own players who are major priorities. This team does have their fair share of holes to fill on both sides of the ball and limited cap space, which is why you won’t see many “big” names listed below. The Jets are going to fill some of their needs through the draft and not be able address some of their needs at all, yet through free agency here are a few names for them to consider.

1. Tyvon Branch – Safety – Oakland Raiders – A young player who has the ability to play both in the box and handle man to man coverage. He hasn’t missed a game the past three years, while LaRon Landry has missed 15 over the past two for those who want the guy with the bigger name. Pairing Branch with a 1st or 2nd round pick at safety, with Jim Leonhard on board at the veteran’s minimum for depth is a nice improvement from last year.

2. Robert Meachem – Wide Receiver – New Orleans Saints – The size and speed the Jets need opposite Santonio Holmes without breaking the bank. Meachem never posted monster numbers in New Orleans because he was one of about eighteen receiving options for Drew Brees. However, he averaged over 15 yards per catch last year and hauled in six touchdowns with limited reps.

3. Anthony Spencer – Outside Linebacker – Dallas Cowboys – The Jets need pass rushing options and on top of spending a 1st or 2nd round pick on one, they should add support via free agency. Spencer could be a solid starter in their system while providing more burst off the edge than Bryan Thomas could if he comes back after major surgery.

4. Vernon Carey – Right Tackle – Miami Dolphins – Carey moved to guard last year for the Dolphins but prior to that was a quality right tackle. He is obviously familiar with Tony Sparano and his system, making him an attractive, affordable option to compete with Wayne Hunter.

5. Tashard Choice – Running Back – Buffalo Bills – The Jets aren’t going to spend much at running back, if at all…but they could use another veteran to push Shonn Greene. Before having a falling out with Jason Garrett last year, Choice was a productive player for Dallas and the Jets should be able to get him at the minimum this off-season.

New York Jets: One Obvious Move This Off-Season

The New York Jets have one obvious move to make this off-season

The New York Jets don’t have many of their own free agents to be worried about this off-season. It would be nice to bring Robert Turner back for offensive line depth, along with Jim Leonhard and Bryan Thomas on veteran minimum deals to provide insurance on defense. However, there is one move that Mike Tannenbaum absolutely needs to take care of and that is bringing Sione Pouha back.

I am aware the Jets don’t have excessive cap space but Tannenbaum needs to do some of that cap maneuvering he is so well known for to keep the Jets nose tackle. Rex Ryan’s defense needs a run stopper in the middle and Pouha has been the perfect fit the past few years. Kenrick Ellis showed last year that he is far from ready to be an every down player and Pouha, despite being 33, should still have 3-4 very good seasons left in him considering he has only been a full time player the past three years of his seven year career.

More importantly, Pouha is one of the few leaders left in the Jets locker room. He is a player who actually deserved the “C” on his chest last year. In the lockout extended off-season, he took the entire defensive line under his wing for workouts and helped guide them to a surprisingly productive year despite largely being a young and unproven group.

The Jets cannot keep letting leaders…and productive leaders at that, walk from their team. Pouha must be brought back in 2012 if this team is going to take steps towards improving their fractured locker room and 8-8 record.

New York Jets: Any Stars In Hiding?

TOJ on if the Jets could have any stars in hiding on the bottom of their roster

We have seen two local sports teams pull stars out of the back of their roster in the past few months. First Victor Cruz for the New York Giants and more recently Jeremy Lin for the New York Knicks. Do the New York Jets have an opportunity to have such luck this season?

The real answer is who knows? You can never really see these things coming. Regardless of Cruz’s monster pre-season performance or Lin’s success at Harvard, nobody thought they’d produce the way they have been or they wouldn’t have spent any time on the bench to begin with.

However, the Jets might have a few young players who have the potential to become game changers in 2012.

The first one who comes to mind is a guy who you are going to hear plenty about in the coming months here, Jeremy Kerley. He showed enough in limited action last year to make us believe that with a bigger role, he could be one of this team’s top playmakers on offense. Kerley has something that many players on the Jets offense lack…straight line speed combined with excellent short area quickness.

Tony Sparano had a successful slot receiver in Miami with Davone Bess and there is no reason to think Kerley won’t be a large part of the Jets passing game. Beyond that, Kerley has the ability to run the Wildcat, while being a threat to complete passes down the field. Hey, the guy completed a pass to Matthew Mulligan last year…that takes talent. Kerley also showed flashes of being a very good punt returner last year and he should only grow in that role.

Outside of Kerley, Joe McKnight showed some big play potential last year and might be able to thrive in a Reggie Bush type role for the Jets. Austin Howard could turn into a capable right tackle. On defense, maybe a role player like Josh Mauga will turn into a quality starter to replace the missed tackle machine Bart Scott or Gerald Alexander will match his Twitter ability with on the field play at safety. You just never know.

Who do you think could be the Jets star in hiding?