Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leon signs one-year tender, but will he remain a Jet?

Leon Washington's contract negotiations have been long and ugly, with both sides calling out each other publicly, and no deal ever getting done. The latest issue was the Jets only giving Washington a 2nd-round tender, and Washington refusing to sign it until the last minute. Well, one day before the deadline where restricted free agents needed to sign, Washington finally wrote his name on the dotted line.

But with Brandon Marshall being traded to Miami just one day after signing his tender, what does this mean for the Jets? Mike Tannenbaum has stated he expects Washington to play a meaningful role this season, but he also said he expected Kerry Rhodes to be back right before he was traded.

However, Washington's value is closer to Santonio Holmes than Brandon Marshall. Marshall was a proven #1 receiver who might be one of the five biggest talents in the NFL. Washington is a runningback who has never been the #1 back on his team in his entire career. Throw in the fact that he's going to be 28 years old opening day, coming off a broken leg, and the Jets are looking at a day three pick at best for Washington.

And with the Jets committed to Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson and a run-first offense (despite the Holmes trade), Washington has more value to the Jets as a third runningback who can step in and play a few downs on offense every game and possibly step in in case of injury. He can also concentrate on returning kicks, what used to be his strongest suit. Coming off a broken leg, no team will trust him with a starting role, and Washington is worth more to the Jets as a third back and kick returner than he would be to any other team. Whatever pick the Jets get for Leon they would immediately have to invest back at the position in the draft.

So despite Tannenbaum's precedent of saying one thing and doing another, expect him to keep Washington. It's not impossible that Trader Mike would make another move, but it's hard to see the Jets willing to dump Washington for next to nothing like they did with Rhodes. They know Washington will work hard and be a good soldier once he gets on the field. They weren't sure about that with Rhodes.