Saturday, February 28, 2009

After a busy day one, who's next for the Jets?

The Jets made a lot of moves to fortify their defense in day one of free agency.

Bart Scott will make $48 million dollars over the next six years. While the contract is definitely more than he's worth, the former Raven is the type of player who leaves his emotions on the field and is unlikely to be a total bust. The "Mad Backer" comes with high praise from Rex Ryan. "When he’s on the field against somebody, he plays the way you’re supposed to and that’s a violent and physical game." A lot of pieces are in place on the defense, but the attitude and intimidation factors weren't there. Scott brings both.

RG Brandon Moore was resigned to a four year, $16 million dollar contract. The Jets made a run at Chris Kemoeatu, but he returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers for less money. They then realized that Moore was the value guard on the market for their team and made the deal, skipping his $7 million dollar roster bonus in the process. He will bring cohesion and strong run blocking to the team's offensive line, and his signing is a shrewd move after his questionable release.

Finally, Lito Sheppard was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles. The former Pro Bowler cost a 5th round pick in 2009 and a conditional pick in 2010 ranging from rounds two through four. He slacked off in 2008 after the Eagles held onto him despite signing Asante Samuel. Before then, he was one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, though injuries were a nagging problem. Still, it's not unrealistic to think he can return to top form at age 27, and if he does, the Jets suddenly boast one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

Those three acquisitions answered three of the questions the team had going into the offseason. The most pertinent ones now regard safety, wide receiver, and of course, the quarterback position. However, don't expect a veteran QB to be brought in, at least not a big name. The team seems content to give Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff a chance to earn the job. We'll see if they stick to that plan.

But a safety could be next on the horizon as the Ravens' Jim Leonhard is visiting Florham Park Saturday (later today). Leonhard had 85 tackles, one sack, and one interception last season, starting 13 games after three non-descript years with Buffalo. He's undersized and his athleticism doesn't jump out at you, but he made a lot of plays last year, and he's very smart. Expect him to sign tomorrow, as the Jets need a safety, and Leonhard may need Rex Ryan.

Scott and Leonhard may not be the only former Ravens brought in. Cornerback Corey Ivy has a chance to sign as a new nickel back. He's drawing interest around the league, and he left the facilities without signing a contract, but the Jets are certainly a strong candidate for his services.

As for wide receiver, the market is a little dry right now, and nobody is immediately in sight at that position. They may target somebody in the draft or sign a bargain free agent later, but it seems like wide receiver is a skill position on the backburner.

Kicker Jay Feely is likely to resign at some point as well.