Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Secondary

The Turn On The Jets staff debates how the New York Jets should handle their secondary this off-season

Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. So far we have covered quarterbackrunning backwide receiveroffensive linedefensive linelinebacker, this week we move to the secondary.

Joe Caporoso – New York Jets fans should prepare for the reality of unpopular decisions being made about the team’s secondary this off-season. The proposition of Darrelle Revis being traded remains a very realistic and likely prudent option, particularly after listening to his latest public comments. You can lecture all you want about the greatness of Revis but the reality is this: He isn’t worth 16 million per year, particularly on a team with so many holes all over their roster. His exact trade value remains hard to pin down but if the Jets can get back a 2013 first round pick, a conditional mid-round pick and a middle of the road cornerback, they shouldn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger and allocating their monetary resources elsewhere.

A somewhat similar situation exists at safety, where there should be no hesitance to let LaRon Landry walk if he is commanding 6 million dollars per year. If you can get him in the 3-4 million per year range with injury protection built into the contract than by all means sign him back but that doesn’t appear to be a feasible reality.

If the previous two mentioned hypotheticals go through, you’d be looking at a secondary in transition. Kyle Wilson would step into a starting role (not a thrilling thought) but ideally the Jets will add a mid-level player to compete with him and a late round draft pick. At safety, Yeremiah Bell can be brought back on the cheap to provide a leadership role while Antonio Allen, Josh Bush and a draft pick can work in a platoon across from him. This sounds scary until you remember the Jets had the league’s number one ranked defense in 2009 with Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland all playing major reps in the secondary. Rex Ryan can win with a secondary that isn’t filled with elite players. The Jets offense and linebackers needs the attention and money this off-season, not the secondary.

Mike Donnelly – In a perfect world, the Jets would be able to keep their entire secondary in tact for 2013 and re-insert All-Pro Darrelle Revis back into the starting lineup as he returns from injury. Unfortunately though, former GM Mike Tannenbaum ensured that 2013 will be far from a perfect world, as he completely botched the salary cap and left little talent on the bottom half of the roster on his way out the door, so changes will be necessary as we head forward. But where should the changes be made?

To start, I’ll tell you where changes shouldn’t be made, and it starts at the top. Despite all this new contract drama, I am still steadfast in my belief that Darrelle Revis should NOT be traded. Find a way to make the contract work, and keep the best defensive player in football for the next 5-6 years at least. Ideally, John Idzik would be able to re-sign Revis and find a way to trade Antonio Cromartie and his big contract if he decides there’s only room for one high priced corner on the team. In no way, shape, or form do I want to see Antonio Cromartie traded or think that’s a smart move, but if it comes down to him or Revis, it’s pretty much an easy decision. Kyle Wilson has a decent year in 2012 after a horrendous start, and he would make a fine #3 corner in 2013. No problems there. Ellis Lankster will hopefully be released after a miserable 2012 season, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Trufant and Walls get an extended look to lock down the #4 corner job heading into next season.

At safety, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Laron Landry is going to move on to greener pastures, as I just don’t think the Jets are going to be able to pony up the amount of money it will take to keep him. If Revis is traded, it’s possible they can get creative and keep Landry, but I think another team with a much better cap situation will blow him away with an offer. The more likely safety to return will be Yeremiah Bell, who very quietly had a solid year in 2012 and stabilized the position that was formerly butchered by Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. Speaking of Smith, he’s a goner (FINALLY!) and next year the young safeties Antonio Allen and Josh Bush are likely to see far more action. Rex Ryan is a magician when it comes to getting the most out of his players, so I think there’s a good chance the Jets will field a top notch pass defense in 2013 no matter which players fill out most of these spots. If he can do it with Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, and Ellis Lankster, he can pretty much make do with anybody.

TJ Rosenthal – The secondary issue is on hold until the Revis situation gets sorted out. If Revis stays, it is simple. Look to allow the 2012 secondary a second chance at being tops in the NFL. The potential would be there to achieve it. Then fill out nickel and dime package depth in a cost effective way but please highlight athleticism back there.

It’s a fast break league now. Can’t have any half court players in the back of the defense anymore. If Revis goes, Kyle Wilson moves to starter. Meaning that signing the Landry and Bell duo would become a top priority. Not a wishful thinking luxury.

If Wilson is not a CB2 in the eyes of John Idzik and the Jets, then we are talking about either a CB as compensation for Revis, or free agent money spent in that area. Both of which would be a wasted move to us. Too many other positions need upgrading right now.

Either pay Revis, or move on to Wilson. If Revis stays, try of course to keep the whole secondary intact. If he goes, don’t just try, but insure that the safeties return. Give Landry the six mil he is asking for.

Frank Giasone – Ask a handful of Jets fans what approach John Idzik should take with the Jets secondary heading into the ’13 season and you’re likely to get a handful of different answers. Some will be adamant about trading Darrelle Revis. Others will vote to deal Antonio Cromartie. Some will resign Landry at any cost. While others are more than content letting hard-hitting safety walk.

Some people point to the Jets’ No. 2 ranking against the pass last season as a rationale to trade Revis. But there’s one problem with that argument, as it may be the most misleading stat to get repeated day after day on sports talk radio.

Yes, the Jets allowed the second fewest passing yards in the league last year. Terrific. But they also faced the third fewest pass attempts in the league (30.9 per game), finished tied for 23rd in interceptions (11), and allowed 20 passing TD’s—leaving them ranked 10th in the league.

If you watched the games, you saw holes in the secondary. But with the Jets offense unable to produce any positive results throughout much of the season, and with the 26th ranked run defense, opposing teams avoided passing situations, leading to the misguided No. 2 ranking.

Unfortunately, there’s no right answer to the situation as it currently stands, and while the “what to do with Revis?” story is already worn out; it’s nowhere near over. The truth is, there just isn’t enough information available to make definitive call, and there will be plenty more chatter before that information is made available.

What is Revis’ trade value?

Most people on the “trade Revis train” tend to think that the cornerback will garner multiple picks in the first two days of the draft. And if that’s the case, a trade is certainly worth exploring. But I think it’s safe to say a Herschel Walker-type deal isn’t happening—and I’d even go as far as to say that teams may be hesitant to trade “high value” picks, considering the Jets’ poor leverage and Revis’ contract demands.

Another thing to consider is that the pool of teams interested in trading for Revis could be very shallow. The most likely destinations are teams in playoff contention, placing the prospective draft pick(s) at the bottom of the round—once again hurting his overall trade value.

Is Revis willing to negotiate?

He wants to be the highest paid defensive player in football. He also says he wants to be a “Jet for life”. But it’s highly unlikely both of those scenarios play out with the star corner asking for “quarterback money”. So unless Revis is willing to lower his asking price to the $11M per year range (highly unlikely based on his recent comments), chances are we won’t see him dominating at MetLife much longer. While Andrea Kraemer wasn’t interested in talking about this in Monday’s interview, it’s the question that we all want (and need) answered.

In a perfect world, one of the two aforementioned scenarios would break in the Jets direction. But this isn’t a perfect world. The trade offers will likely be very modest, and the best cornerback in football is unlikely to significantly lower his asking price, leaving the Jets in an awful spot.

While Idzik and the rest of the Jets’ front office wait to see how the Revis situation plays out, there are plenty of other tough decisions to be made. Eric Smith was handed his walking papers on Tuesday, which wasn’t at all surprising, as he’s become infamous for his injuries and for allowing big plays. His presence on special teams will be missed, but can certainly be replaced.

But aside from Revis, Laron Landry is the biggest question mark in the secondary this offseason. He played well in ’12 (although some fans may be overvaluing his contributions to the defense), but has a history of being injured and struggles in coverage. Any team willing to offer Landry guaranteed money will be taking a risk, as his hardnosed approach doesn’t lend itself well to a player who has missed 16 games in a six-year career. The strong free agent safety class will also play a role, and may force Landry to take less money than expected. The Jets could consider resigning him, but need to be careful.

While I won’t be heartbroken if he leaves, I’m open to offering Landry a two or three-year contract averaging $3-4M per year with minimal guarantees. The deal, which I can’t imagine Landry would accept, would also need to include injury-protection.

The Jets have another to make a decision with Yeremiah Bell. Based on his strong second half of football in ’12, his return on a cheap one-year deal is very possible. His locker room leadership and experience on the field can’t be overlooked, especially with young safeties Antonio Allen and Josh Bush attempting to expand their roles this season.

I don’t expect the Jets to make a splash in free agency, and it’s safe to say Kyle Wilson will be back—as will his ridiculous finger wag. Aaron Berry and Darrin Walls could take over for Isaiah Trufant and Ellis Lankster, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets explore some low-priced free agents, or possibly invest a late-round draft pick on the secondary.

But again, so much of this depends on what happens with Revis. If No. 24 stays, Cromartie could be dealt. If Revis leaves, Landry could return. It’s amazing how much one player (as great as he may be), can impact the offseason.

At the very least, it’ll be an interesting off-season.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports