Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kerry Rhodes Traded to Arizona

One day after several publications printed Kerry Rhodes would likely return in 2010, the moody safety was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2010 4th round pick and a 2011 7th round pick.

The Cardinals are banking that Rhodes can return to his old form as a rising star at safety. When the Jets paid him, hoping he would get to the next level of a playmaking safety, he just couldn't make the step. He's a good player, a rangy safety, but the Jets decided he wasn't a Rex Ryan type player.

The Jets only had 5 picks going into the draft. Now, all they're missing is a 3rd rounder. After a three-man draft last year, the Jets will try to build more through youth and groom people in Rex Ryan's system.

However, it puts a big hole at the safety position opposite Jim Leonhard. The Jets could really use a playmaker back there, as opposed to someone who just calls himself one (Rhodes). Unfortunately, the rules don't allow the Jets to sign any unrestricted free agents, so their new safety must come from either restricted free agency, a trade, or the draft.

If the Jets opt to look in restricted free agency, two options are the Colts' Antoine Bethea and the Rams' OJ Atogwe. Gang Green has been floated as a possible suitor for Bethea, but he is tendered at a first round pick, so that rumor may have been floated by his agent to drive up interest. Atogwe is the more interesting candidate. He was St. Louis's franchise player in 2009 but the Rams opted not to pay him the $7+ million it would have taken to franchise him, so they gave him a $1.226 millon tender that gives the Rams the right of first refusal. In other words, he's free to sign anywhere without compensation, but the Rams can match the offer.

Atogwe could be the answer the Jets are looking for at safety. They're free to sign him and he's the best option available. In his last four seasons, he has 14 forced fumbles, 18 interceptions, and a boatload of tackles. If he can make plays in the Rams' defense, he can certainly make plays with Revis and Cromartie at cornerback.

There's no reason not to at least inquire. This is the 2nd subtraction the Jets have made from last year's roster (Thomas Jones), and the Final Eight rules dictate the Jets need to get creative. Atogwe would do that. Gang Green likely wouldn't be the only team interested, but Woody Johnson has opened up his wallet in the past, and it's not as if they can get much other help in free agency.

On the Thomas Jones front, he's visiting Detroit and Kansas City right now, and it's possible he could have a deal done in either city very soon.


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