Where Will The Jets Go Cheap?

There will inevitably be some tough decisions the New York Jets front office will have to make when free agency starts. Certain positions are going to see a higher concentration of money spent, while others will be forced to be handled more cheaply with hopes of younger players stepping up. Where will Mike Tannebaum decide to invest the most?

Wide Receiver – We know money is going to be spent to keep either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, but would the Jets invest enough in the receiver position to keep both, or perhaps one along with Brad Smith? It doesn’t seem likely considering this is a run first offense, but they may want to insure Mark Sanchez has the best weapons possible at his disposal to help him flourish into a top-tier quarterback in the NFL.

Defensive Line – The Jets could go young and not pay up to bring Shaun Ellis back and also not work to coax Trevor Pryce out of retirement. However, they will be putting a high amount of pressure on first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson to produce immediately and relying on unproven players like Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon to play large roles on the defensive line rotation. If they can’t work something out with Ellis, it would be smart to at least bring Pryce back on a cheap, one-year deal as insurance.

Offensive Line – When the Jets released Damien Woody this off-season, the original plan seemed to be allowing second year player Vladimir Ducasse battle with veteran Wayne Hunter to take over at right tackle. Hunter filled in for Woody a few games at the end of last season and is also a free agent, but would cost less to bring back. Now with the way this off-season has been affected by the lockout, can the Jets risk thinking Ducasse is ready to compete for a starting job and have somebody like Hunter as the only alternative or will they pay up to bring Woody back for another year? They also need to decide if they are going to bring back versatile back-up Robert Turner.

Secondary – Antonio Cromartie is going to be a highly sought after free agent and if the Jets decide to let him walk, they will be taking a risk at corner opposite Darrelle Revis by hoping Kyle Wilson is ready to step in as a starter. The Jets could always look to sign a free agent to compete with him but if they are going to spend money on a veteran, why not just stick with Cromartie who is comfortable in the system and handled the job well last year? They also need to make a decision at safety, where Brodney Pool will probably cost more than Eric Smith but provides better range and long-term potential next to Jim Leonhard.

Linebacker – The Jets could go into the year with their current depth chart and hope a player like Jamaal Westerman or Josh Mauga steps up as an option in certain packages and as reliable backups or look to bring back Jason Taylor or sign a free agent to support a position that is relatively thin.

New York Jets Have Finally Created An Appealing Situation

It is starting to sound like there may be a light at the end of this lockout tunnel and if everything breaks right in the coming weeks there is going to be a furious two to three week stretch of free agency in early July. No matter how the negotiations end up setting the framework for the rules in the 2011 season and the new CBA, the New York Jets are going to have their hands full. Yet, one of the positive things the Jets will have working for them is they have created an organizational culture that is appealing to players around the league.

Leading the New York Jets is an owner willing to spend money, on state of the art facilities and top tier talent, a general manager who is willing to pursue that top tier talent and remain aggressive to keep the Jets consistently competitive, and a head coach who is as popular with players as any in the NFL.

Say what you want about Hard Knocks but it was great advertising for the New York Jets. The days of this franchise being a clumsily run, bumbling second class NFL citizen are over. They have a brand new stadium, brand new training facilities, and most importantly an identity as a physical, talented football team that is developing into a consistent winner.

The Jets top concern in free agency will be bringing their own players back, yet if they have holes they need to fill, they should have the ability to recruit the necessary replacement pieces, which is a credit to Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and Woody Johnson.

Thoughts On Jets Full Team Workouts

The New York Jets are currently holding workouts in North Jersey, it is being reported that somewhere around 40 players are in attendance, with a partial listing of who is there right here. Mark Sanchez had previously mentioned bringing together as much of the team as possible if the lockout extended into the middle of the June. These workouts are looking to serve as informal replacement for mini-camp, which would normally take place around this time.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about who does and doesn’t attend these workouts which are expected to last for three days. There seems to be increasing optimism that the lockout is going to end within a month or so to allow for a full training camp and a pre-season, preceded by an abbreviated free agency period. You can’t expect potential free agents to risk an injury so close to a time when they will be looking for a new contract, which is why players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie are likely working out on their own during these days. It is worth noting that Brad Smith is in attendance despite being a free agent.

These few days will be good work for the rookies and younger players on the Jets roster who are expected to move into bigger roles. It is also another demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s leadership on this team, as he was able to gather up this many players for workouts. Sione Pouha said it a few weeks ago “when Mark makes the call…we’ll be there.”

Hopefully the amount of work Sanchez has put in participating, leading, and coaching these workouts will continue his development at a somewhat comparable pace to the work around the team facility he did last off-season.

The end may be finally be getting near for the lockout and on the whole it has been encouraging to see the amount of work the Jets players have put it in to stay in shape the previous few months.

TOJ Top Five: Brad Smith Plays

Since New York Jets wide receiver, Brad Smith, has recently created a Twitter account (@ReadBradSmith) and unfortunately there is a good chance he won’t be back next year, let’s look at his top five plays as a Jet…

5. Fifth Gear

This past Thanksgiving, Brad Smith torched the Cincinnati Bengals for the second year in a row. His first touchdown came on a 53 yard reverse, which really demonstrated his downhill speed as he kicks it into fifth gear and is off to the races.

4. Wildcatting Into The Playoffs

With a wild-card spot on the line in the final week of the 2009 season, the Jets beat up on the Bengals led by Smith who got things going with a huge run out of the Wildcat and then later blew the game open with a touchdown run out of the same formation.

3. One Last Bengals Highlight

The shoeless kick return…one shoe and still the fastest guy on the field.

2. Start It Off

Heading into their December match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets were riding an ugly two game losing streak and staring another later season meltdown in the face. Fortunately, Smith started off the game with a kick return for a touchdown which provided a much needed boost that would ultimately lead to a Jets victory.

1. Finally, A Pass

The one and only big pass Brad Smith ever completed for the New York Jets was against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, when he surprised everybody in the stadium by rolling out and hitting Jerricho Cotchery on a bomb that would set up a big first half touchdown for the Jets.

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.

12 Pack Of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #16

Since the world is supposed to end this weekend, let’s look at the 10 best Jets moments of the past 10 years…

#10 – Week One Win

Even though nobody likes him, you can’t act like you weren’t pumped to watch Brett Favre in a Jets jersey lead them to a victory in week one over the Miami Dolphins in their building.

#9 – Mangini’s Shining Moment

Coming off their bye week in 2006, the Jets stunned New England in their building by snapping a seven game losing streak to the Patriots. The 2006 Jets were a scrappy bunch without any big names but still managed a 10-6 record and to make the playoffs.

#8 – The Long Way In

In 2001, the Jets clinched a playoff spot in the final game of the regular season (a recurring trend this past decade) when John Hall nailed a 53 yard field goal in the final seconds to beat the Oakland Raiders.

#7 – OT Glory

The 2004 New York Jets season could have ended because of a stupid roughing the passer penalty on Eric Barton. Fortunately, they managed to escape in overtime with a playoff victory over the San Diego Chargers on the road thanks to a Doug Brien field goal. Hopefully, Brien enjoyed his one week of being a hero before becoming one of the biggest goats in Jets history the following week against Pittsburgh.

#6 – So Long Peyton

Considering what he did to the Jets in the 2009 AFC Championship Game, knocking the Colts out of the playoffs in 2010 with Nick Folk’s game winning field goal as time expired was extra sweet. Braylon Edwards set up the game winning kick with this terrific catch.

#5 – A Little Help From Friends?

On the final day of the 2004 season, the Jets found out during the first half of their game against the Green Bay Packers that the Miami Dolphins had lost to the New England Patriots, allowing them a chance to win the AFC East. The Jets went on to blow out the Packers and win an unlikely divisional title after starting the season 2-5.

#4 – First Round Beatdown

The last Jets home playoff game was a sweet one, as they romped over the Indianapolis Colts 41-0 led by a monster game from Chad Pennington. Yes, two playoff wins over Peyton Manning make this list.

#3 – Ground and Pound

After clawing their way to a lead in a 2009 divisional game against the San Diego Chargers. The heavy underdog Jets broke open a two possession lead on this run by Shonn Greene midway through the fourth quarter…

#2 – The Victory Lap

It ended up being the New York Jets, not the New York Giants who shut down “Giants Stadium” the proper way. After the Giants were humiliated in back to back games to end the 2009 season, the Jets clinched a playoff spot on Sunday night football and celebrated by taking a victory lap around the field to shake hands with fans, in the final game ever played at the old stadium.

#1 – Go To Sleep…Anybody Can Be Beat!

It didn’t get any sweeter than ending the season of the heavily favored and absolutely despised New England Patriots in their building last season. The Jets battered around Tom Brady like a rag doll and made sure to savor the victory in the final moments as a shell shocked Patriots team and fan-base looked on…

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Lockout Blues: Ways For Jets Fans To Pass The Time

What can you say? The NFL Lockout sucks. It has been an endless cycle of litigation and mediation, which has now been delayed again until a June 3rd hearing. It is becoming more of a reality with each passing day that part of training camp and probably even the regular season will be lost, which is a damn tragedy. The NFL was so popular last year that it could have put the Cardinals and Panthers in prime-time against a championship game in another major sport and destroyed it in the ratings. Unfortunately, greed and money have a way of ruining even the best of things.

Here at Turn On The Jets, we will keep writing as if there will be a 2011 season and will never run out of the topics to discuss on this team, even if I am forced to break down the battle for the third tight end spot or write a feature length story on long snapper Tanner Purdum’s background.

Regardless, here are a few ways for Jets fans to pass the time while we wait for this lockout to finally come to an end —

  • Read Rex Ryan’s book

A quick, easy, and entertaining read for any Jets fan. There is no shortage of smack and snack talk.

  • Channel your Dolphins hate to the Heat

Let’s go Bulls!

  • Remember how foolish you are capable of acting when you are rooting for the Jets
  • Join a touch football or softball league

The Importance Of Bringing Shaun Ellis Back

Despite the New York Jets selecting defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the NFL Draft and then adding defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis in the third round, it still remains important to bring veteran Shaun Ellis back for the defensive line rotation.

Despite never being a truly great player, Ellis has been a consistently very good defensive end, against both the run and pass for his entire 12 year career with the Jets. We know he still has gas in the tank after the way he dominated the New England Patriots offensive line in the Jets divisional round win last year.

With the NFL having a shortened off-season (and maybe a shortened regular season for that matter), you can’t expect Wilkerson to be ready to step into a starting role from day one. Players like Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon also haven’t shown enough yet to be considered strong candidates for a starting defensive end spot. It would be beneficial for Wilkerson’s development to spend a year learning from Ellis and coming off the bench before taking over for him full time.

Ellis has spent his entire career with the Jets and is a leader in the locker room. However, that isn’t the primary reason to work something out with him. Ellis is still a productive player at a position the Jets need help at.

You can’t assume a rookie or a player coming off an Achilles injury can start on one of the league’s best defenses, especially after this off-season. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum can work out a short term deal with Ellis to ease Wilkerson’s transition to the NFL and give the Jets better depth on their defensive line.

Jets West vs. Camp Eli: How Much Do Off-Season Workouts Matter?

Steve Politi had a funny comparison between Jets West and Camp Eli in today’s Star Ledger. Basically, while the Jets were enjoying the California sun in a highly organized camp, complete with film sessions, guest accommodations, sponsorships, team contests and field trips…the Giants were slumming around Hoboken high school like a touch football team getting ready for an adult league. (Hey, don’t knock those, I play in one. Go Spirits!)

Just about every team around the league is taking part in some organized workout to stay in shape during the lockout. However, how much of a difference will the quality of the off-season workouts make on the 2011 season? The answer is probably not all that much. Even the best run sessions are still lacking enough attendance to adequately replace OTAs…Basically, you won’t be saying the Jets beat the Giants on December 24th because of Jets West.

Yet, that doesn’t mean Mark Sanchez doesn’t deserve credit for putting the camp together. He is a young quarterback cementing his leadership role on his team. Good for him for taking such good care of his teammates. There is no reason to take anything at all away from the Jets camp because it received so much media attention…like most things the Jets do, it deserved it.

Eli Manning isn’t going to lose any of his teammates respect for the lack of effort he put into “Camp Eli,” which was basically walking down the street from his apartment and saying “hey, come meet me here if you can, bring your own water and orange slices.” It is funny to see the differences between the two camps but getting too deep into their impact is only a result of lockout boredom.

New England Patriots: Talking About Not Talking

I noticed just a hint of hypocrisy today when reading an article on both Pro Football Talk and ESPN about how quiet New England is keeping their off-season workouts. Yes, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski bragged to the country’s largest sports media outlet about how the Patriots are “on the down-low” and not seeking the press like “other teams” cough cough, Jets West anybody?

Can we stop with the act that New England never runs their mouth? Let’s not pretend Tom Brady never gestures at opponent’s sidelines or Deion Branch doesn’t cry a river of tears complaining about the Jets celebrating on their field. You can’t brag to the media about not bragging there Gronk.