Wednesday, March 31, 2010

JetsDaily Mock Draft v1.0

Here's the first of my 2010 NFL mock drafts for the Jets to predict where they will go in the draft. Some guys might not be there when I pick them, but it's basically just meant to serve as a general blueprint of what the Jets should do come draft day. I'll have at least one more version of this, as well as a Jets' draft board as the draft approaches.

Round 1. DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
Last year's starting DE Marques Douglas remains unsigned, and Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, and Sione Pouha are all over 30. Defensive line sticks out like a sore thumb as a place the Jets need to infuse some youth. Odrick wouldn't be the flashiest pick, but he's a productive and versatile player who would fit right into what the Jets are doing. They may wait a bit, but unless an intriguing receiver or pass rusher falls, Odrick would be a safe pick that fits both value and need. That is, if he's still there at 29.

Round 2: CB Chris Cook, Virginia
Antonio Cromartie is a very nice complement to Darrelle Revis, but as Peyton Manning showed, the Jets need as many good cornerbacks as they can. Cook is 6'2" and fast, and he would immediately challenge Dwight Lowery for the third cornerback role. Cook has a lot of talent, and he could also be shifted over to safety if they need to. He's got all the physical skills and his stock should rise towards draft day.

Round 4: WR Andre Roberts, The Citadel
The Jets don't need to bring in a new starting receiver: Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards are fine. However, they really could use a shifty receiver who just gets open and makes plays on third downs. Roberts catches everything in his site, he's quick, and he's a prototypical slot receiver in the NFL.

Round 5: OT Tony Washington, Abilene Christian
The Jets have had remarkable health on the offensive line the last few years, but it wouldn't hurt to draft someone else who can compete in case Damien Woody or Alan Faneca start to wear down. Washington is a talented and athletic offensive tackle who could be a potential starter a year or two down the line under the tutelage of Bill Callahan.

Round 6: DE/OLB George Selvie, South Florida
Selvie was a potential first round pick even as late as last year. After bursting onto the scene as an underclassman, Selvie's production fell off after he got more attention from defenders. He didn't run very well at the combine either. Still, he has prototypical size to be a 3-4 OLB and enough production in college to be taken at this point in the draft.

Round 7: TE Colin Peek, Alabama
Peek is a very good blocker who would complement Dustin Keller pretty well. He played three years at Georgia Tech before transferring to avoid Chan Gailey's triple-option system which pretty much eliminates the tight end. Peek is limited athletically, but if the Jets want to be a run-first team, Peek could be an upgrade over Ben Hartsock.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jets will play home on Thanksgiving Night

In absolutely awful news as a season ticket holder, the Jets will host a home game on Thanksgiving night.

Now, on a day typically dominated by family, I have to go to a football game and cheer on the Jets. I realize this is what Detroit and Dallas fans always have to deal with, but I hate this. Hate it.

In much better news, the Jets resigned FB Tony Richardson. A key part of many different elite rushing attacks in his career, Richardson now has the chance to work with LaDainian Tomlinson, another star runningback to add to a litany of top backs he's worked with. He doesn't have a lot of time left in the NFL, but I want however much time he has left to be with the Jets. The man can still block.

Also, the Jets signed DE Rodrigue Wright, formerly of the Dolphins (and recently out of football).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jets will open 2010 season home on Monday Night

The New York Jets will open up their brand new stadium the opening week of the season.

But it will be the New York Giants that play the first game, as they will play Sunday afternoon. This is the result of a coinflip dispute that happened throughout the day. Both teams wanted to play the first week at home. The league agreed to a coin flip to resolve the issue. Only one problem, neither team was present for the flip.

So when the Giants won, Woody flipped out about the flip, calling out the NFL for the way it handled the toss.

In turn the NFL gave both teams week one NFL games, with the Giants getting Sunday and the Jets Monday. Also, Gang Green will have the preseason opener as well.

Nothing wrong with this. While I'm not the biggest Monday Night Football fan for going to the games, in September, when the weather's still nice, that's going to be a fun game. Most likely, the opponent will be Minnesota or New England. Favre on Monday night would be the most appealing against his other former team, but the NFL loves bringing the Patriots to New Jersey for the Jets' home opener. Miami is an outside shot, especially after Rex Ryan's battles with the team, most recently flipping off a belligerent Dolphins fan at an MMA event. Imagine 80,000 Jets fans giving Chad Henne the bird. That would be a good way to open the new stadium.

LaDainian Bolts to New York

It's official, LaDainian Tomlinson is a New York Jet, agreeing to a two year deal Sunday. The deal will be for $5.2 million which could escalate to $5.7 million with certain incentives.

Tomlinson is expected to back up Shonn Greene in the Jets' run-heavy offense. The Jets chose not to pay Jones $5.8 million and did not match the Chiefs' offer for a similar contract to what Tomlinson got.

It begs the question, why Tomlinson over Jones? The front office clearly recognized his value as they took out a full page ad in the Kansas City star to thank him for his service. But the torch was passed to Shonn Greene late last season, and he was clearly going to be the starting back. The Jets are hoping Tomlinson can be more explosive and versatile than Jones, as LT is a better pass catcher and has shown a nose for the endzone in his career.

It remains to be seen whether or not the swap is the right move. Personally, I'm completely on board with it. While Jones was far better last season, the San Diego offensive line couldn't run block at all, so put him in front of a better offensive line (and Jones behind a worse one in Kansas City), and see how they do. Plus, he is a better complement to Greene because he is a much better receiver than Jones. Not to mention, the Jets' offense shares many qualities with San Diego's as Brian Schottenheimer is a former Charger assistant.

It also doesn't hurt bringing in a star to a brand new stadium. And it will sell some jerseys. Never underestimate that factor when it comes to bringing in a brand name like LT. I wonder how PSL sales are going...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jets sign S Brodney Pool, trying to woo Tomlinson

The Jets took a step in replacing S Kerry Rhodes by signing former Cleveland Brown Brodney Pool to a one year deal.

Pool was a restricted free agent who was not tendered by Cleveland due to a number of concussion problems. However, Pool could be a nice complement to Eric Smith as he is a rangy safety with good ball skills. Smith is a better blitzer and run stopper. 

However, the big news out of Jets camp is that they're looking hard at former Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson.

After letting go of Thomas Jones, most assumed the Jets would bring in a third back. Tomlinson is an option, primarily because he was released from his former team, so the Jets are able to sign him without restrictions.

Some may wonder why the Jets didn't just keep Thomas Jones, and that is a valid question. After all, TJ ran for 1400+ yards and LT looked finished last season.

But Tomlinson contributes in ways that Jones can't. When Leon Washington went down, the offense was severely hindered because they lacked a pass-catching back. Tomlinson would absolutely fill that role, and with Washington still recovering from a broken leg, he'd be the ultimate Leon Washington insurance.

Washington and Shonn Greene is a good combination, but it isn't enough with both of them having some injury concerns. Not only does Tomlinson act as Washington insurance, but if Greene were to go down, Tomlinson would be very useful as well.

LT has always been known as a solid back in the redzone as well as a workhorse in his own right. While the Jets wouldn't be running him into the ground, if Greene went down, Tomlinson could be the feature back and take Greene's place.

The big question if they sign LT is what will his role be if Greene and Washington are healthy? It's hard to imagine Greene not being the feature back after his playoff performance, but it's also hard to imagine a backfield with Tomlinson NOT starting.

The other reason Tomlinson makes more sense than Jones is money. Jones was far more one-dimensional and would have cost $5.8 million for one year. He ended up getting $5 million for 2 years. I'd expect Tomlinson to receive something similar to Jones's new deal.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that he'd probably sell some jerseys heading into the new stadium. PSL's, anyone?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jets Close to Resigning TE Ben Hartsock

The Daily News reports that the Jets are trying to resign TE Ben Hartsock. PFT says that Hartsock has agreed to terms, but no other outlet has reported anything.

Laveranues Coles also remains a possibility for the 3rd receiver job, though the Jets will probably take their time and make a move after the draft. It's a long offseason, and Coles isn't the ideal option since he'll be a one-year stop-gap. The Jets would probably prefer a younger option, one who is a better fit in the slot. But Coles might be the best option out there who only costs money, so there's a good chance of this getting done, especially if New York can't find a solution in April's draft.

Meanwhile, DE Marques Douglas is drawing interest from a few teams, including Denver. The Jets would like to bring him back, but if another team overpays, it would allow them to sign an unrestricted free agent of their own. However, they might not want to break up the defense more than they have to, so we shall see.

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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

CB Donald Strickland Released

Today, RB Thomas Jones was officially released. The Jets say they will try to sign him back, but that seems like a pipe dream. Too many teams need runningbacks, and if the Jets really wanted to keep Jones as their starting runningback, they would have paid the roster bonus. They want to sign him to a cheaper contract and give Shonn Greene and Leon Washington a bigger load, which is fully understandable. But at the same time, in an uncapped year, if they really wanted him, they'd just keep him. Someone else will value him more as a starter, Cleveland, for example, so I put the chances of a Jones return at slim, despite what the Jets say.

They'll look for a cheaper veteran option, one who could possibly contribute at fullback or special teams. Don't rule out a late draft pick either.

The Jets will also be searching for more cornerback depth as CB Donald Strickland was released after one injury-plagued season. Strickland was solid when he was healthy, but what good is a player you can't count on to make it through the entire game?

Meanwhile, one name to watch out for at receiver could be quite familiar. WR Laveranues Coles was released by the Bengals after one disappointing season. Coles has publicly stated a desire to return to the Jets. However, Coles has proven in his career he'll go where the money is. But with the Jets looking for a 3rd receiver, and Coles's status as a released player rather than an unrestricted free agent allows the Jets to sign him freely. It seems like a perfect fit. The bigger questions will be Coles's health and whether the Jets think he has enough left in the gas tank to contribute for a year.

Jets trade 2011 Conditional 3rd Round Pick for CB Antonio Cromartie

Many Jets fans last memories of Antonio Cromartie is him whiffing on Shonn Greene en route to Greene's 53-yard touchdown in the playoffs. That play as well as some off-field issues made the former Pro Bowl cornerback available, and the Jets pounced.

Mike Tannenbaum was going to have to get creative this offseason, and he's already begun. Cromartie is 6'2, 211 pounds and is as fast as anyone in the NFL. He is quite simply an athletic freak who has every physical tool you could possibly want in a cornerback. The key is keeping him healthy and motivated.

This may remind you a little of the Lito Sheppard deal last season, and there are certainly some similiarities. Both trades are examples of Tannenbaum buying low on a former star cornerback and hoping he can bounce back. Sheppard didn't work out and was let go as he faced a $10 million dollar roster bonus. Cromartie is a free agent after 2010, so this is a one-year deal as well.

The Jets are banking that the 25 year old will return to form facing team's #2 cornerbacks with a blitzing defense ahead of him. After all, Cromartie was at his best when Shawne Merriman was at his peak and the Chargers' pass rush was fearsome. He has the ball skills and athletic ability to intercept passes and score touchdowns once he has the ball.

This also allows the Jets to have a lot more flexibility. The Jets had a gaping hole at #2 cornerback opposite Darrelle Revis. Now, Cromartie and Revis could be the top tandem in the NFL, and Dwight Lowery is much better suited as a 3rd cornerback. Now, the Jets don't have to draft a cornerback early, and a pure pass rusher is the Jets' number one need.

It's a risky move, there is no doubt about it. A 3rd round pick in 2011 isn't a steep price, but the Jets now are stuck with back to back drafts without a full complement of picks. They are clearly a win-now team, but the beauty of both this trade and the Braylon Edwards one last year is that both players are young and if they do turn it around, they are young enough to be part of the core for years to come.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on Potential Jets' Free Agents

With free agency starting up tomorrow, the Jets have had to make a number of decisions on key players.

Unrestricted Free Agents
FB Tony Richardson
WR David Clowney
TE/LS James Dearth
TE Ben Hartsock
K Jay Feely
DE Marques Douglas
LB Marques Murrell
LB Larry Izzo
LB Ryan Fowler

Those players above are key for the Jets because if any of them signs with another team, the Jets can then sign an unrestricted free agent of their own. There are no big names on that list, so the Jets can only really sign a couple depth free agents.

Now, the Jets, like so many other teams in this uncapped 2010 season, will have a number of restricted free agents as well. Some were set to be unrestricted free agents and got screwed by the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. Leon Washington and Braylon Edwards both fit in that category, so the Jets control their rights for another year.

These players are free to sign wherever they want, but for many, the Jets placed tender offers on them, so teams have to give up compensation if they want to sign them. Gang Green would also hold the right to match any offer any of these guys signs with another team, as long as they tendered the player.

Tendered Restricted Free Agents
WR Braylon Edwards (1st and 3rd tender)
RB Leon Washington (2nd round tender)
QB Kellen Clemens (2nd round tender)
WR Brad Smith (2nd round tender)
S Eric Smith (3rd round tender)
OT Wayne Hunter (3rd round tender)
CB Drew Coleman (6th round tender)
S James Ihedigbo (No compensation, Jets have right to match offer)

The biggest surprise here is Washington only getting a 2nd round offer. That prompted Washington's agent Alvin Keels to say there was a 50/50 shot at best of his client returning to the Jets, but that assumes some team will be willing to give a 2nd round pick for a 28-year old runningback coming off a broken leg. Highly unlikely. Plus, the team would have to give Washington a big contract, one the Jets have not been willing to give yet. Expect everyone else on the list to return, though the Jets could try to trade Clemens for a late round pick.

The Jets also chose to non-tender three of their RFA's, leading them to become unrestricted free agents.

Non-Tendered Restricted Free Agents
DT Howard Green
WR Wallace Wright
LB Marques Murrell

Wright might return, as he was a valuable special teamer. On the other hand, the Jets could opt to replace him with someone who contributes more on offense. Murrell and Green are probably gone.

Now, the Jets have also done some other housekeeping heading into the new fiscal season.

Final Cuts
RB Thomas Jones
CB Lito Sheppard

CB Donald Strickland may have his name added to the list, but there hasn't been much smoke regarding his name in the past week or so. If he's cut today, I will post it. Sheppard's departure is no surprise, as he is owed a $10 million roster bonus which the Jets probably laughed at. Letting go of Jones is a move that will be debated all offseason. The Jets are definitely in the camp of letting go of a player one year too early rather than one year too late, but we'll see how much the Jets actually miss Jones in about 8 months.

Pre-Free Agency Roster Analysis

With free agency set to begin on Friday, it's time to review the current roster and see where the Jets need to improve this offseason and where they're set heading into 2010-2011.

Don't expect a splash like the past two years where the Jets splurged to sign top free agents such as Alan Faneca, Calvin Pace, and Bart Scott. That's because the Jets' success actually works against them in the last year of the collective bargaining agreement in the Final Eight rule.

The basics are that the Jets and the other seven teams who advanced to the divisional playoffs can't sign free agents until their own free agents leave to go elsewhere. Unfortunately for the Jets, their biggest free agents are K Jay Feely, TE Ben Hartsock, and DE Marques Douglas, a group that won't get big contracts.

The Jets will also be hamstrung with a lack of draft picks due to the Sheppard and Braylon Edwards trades. As of now, the Jets have draft picks in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds.

That means the two areas in which the Jets will be most aggressive to improve the team in are in trades and waiver wire pickups. Tannenbaum has been aggressive in the past, and with restrictions on what he can do, he will have to get creative.

But the Jets will surely go after some players released by other teams, as Tannenbaum can ink these players with impunity. Adalius Thomas is one possibility, as he could be released from New England by Friday. Keep an eye on who other teams release, as those are the players the Jets are most likely to pursue.

Where will the Jets attempt to improve their roster? Let's go position-by-position and analyze the team's needs.

Quarterback: Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge, Kevin O'Connell
Need: Possibly a veteran backup
Analysis: Sanchez is the present and future. It would be nice to have a backup with experience, but the curious trade for O'Connell before last season means that a new quarterback would force the Jets to carry a fourth quarterback again, not an enviable position. If there is a veteran upgrade out there, the Jets will look, but these three could very well be your only opening day quarterbacks. Clemens doesn't appear to be the answer, but the Jets don't want to lose him for nothing.

Runningback: Shonn Greene, Leon Washington, Danny Woodhead, Chauncey Washington
Need: A third back who can play if one or both of the top two backs get hurt.
Analysis: Greene and L. Washington is potentially a dynamic combination, with each back bringing a different element to the table. However, Washington is coming off a broken leg and Greene suffered several nagging injuries last season. If both stay healthy, the Jets will be fine. But it would be foolish for the Jets to put all their eggs in this basket, particularly as often as they run the ball. Leon's return could make Woodhead redundant. Chauncey Washington could be the third back as Tannenbaum has spoken highly of him. However, he is completely unproven, so such a move would be risky. Fullback Tony Richardson is a free agent. He's still effective, but the Jets could look to replace him with someone younger, like Jason Davis who spent last season on the practice squad. Ideally, the Jets would also bring in a versatile third back who could play both runningback positions and some special teams as well. The wildcard with this unit is Leon, as the Jets only tendered him with a 2nd round pick. It's possible though unlikely that a team could try to sign Washington. A 2nd round pick is prohibitive for a 28 year old runningback coming off a broken leg, but if a team were willing to bite, the Jets would probably let him go.

Wide Receiver: Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith
Need: Slot receive, Depth
Analysis: Cotchery and Edwards are entrenched, at least for this coming year, as the starting receivers, but after that, it's slim pickings. Clowney showed flashes in preseason, but that seems to be all he'll ever be. Smith is useful lining up out wide, behind center, and on special teams, but he's a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The Jets need to give Sanchez another weapon in the slot to take pressure off him. The Jets simply don't have a quick slot receiver. Neither Clowney nor Smith fits that role at all, and it hurts the Jets passing game. Cotchery and Edwards deserve a chance to show they can be a top tandem. But finding a third wheel in the passing game will be an underrated theme this offseason.

Tight End: Dustin Keller, Matthew Mulligan
Need: #2 blocking tight end
Analysis: The Jets go into this offseason just like last offseason: looking for a blocking tight end to complement Keller. Last year the team waited until final cuts to sign Ben Hartsock, who will likely leave as a free agent. This year, they probably won't wait so long. Bringing in a number two tight end who can help Rex Ryan's ground and pound offense by blocking, especially in short yardage, would be great. Last season, the Jets used their tackles eligible as tight ends far too often. It would be nice to actually have a tight end who could fill that role and be somewhat of a threat in the passing game.

Offensive Line: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody, Wayne Hunter, Robert Turner, Matt Slauson
Need: Someone to groom at right tackle and/or left guard.
Analysis: The Jets probably had the best offensive line in football last season, so there's no need to fix the starters. However, the backups are largely unproven, so if something happened to a starter, it's questionable how the Jets would respond. Woody and Faneca are the two most veteran members of the line, so if the Jets can draft a young replacement to play behind them, it would be ideal.

Defensive Line: Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Mike DeVito, Ropati Pitoitua, Sione Pouha
Need: Starting defensive end to rotate with DeVito. Youth.
Analysis: Marques Douglas did a yeoman's job starting at defensive end last year, but he's a free agent and the Jets could look to upgrade with more of a playmaker. DeVito is a very good rotational player, but he might not hold up playing every down, so it's vital the Jets bring in someone to keep the pressure off him. Jenkins and Ellis are both very good players when healthy, but both are on the wrong side of 30, so infusing some youth sooner rather than later would be prudent.

Linebacker: Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, David Harris, Bart Scott, Kenwyn Cummings, Vernon Gholston, Jamaal Westerman
Need: Pure pass rushing outside linebacker
Analysis: This is one of the premier linebacker groups in the NFL. All that is missing is an elite edge rusher that the elite 3-4 teams have. Gholston was supposed to be that guy, but he's been a colossal disappointment. The Jets will probably look to get a pass rusher in the draft who can play on third downs and take Thomas's job down the line. An elite pass rusher whom teams have to account for when they go back to pass is the biggest need for this defense to go from very good to outstanding.

Secondary: Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Jim Leonhard, Dwight Lowery, Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, Drew Coleman, Marquice Cole
Need: Starting cornerback opposite Darrelle Revis. Probably another for depth as well.
Analysis: Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL. Praise be to Revis Christ. But with Revis on one side of the field, that means quarterbacks tend to pick on the other side. The Jets deemed Lito Sheppard's play unsatisfactory, and while Lowery has his moments, he's not a quality starting cornerback. Sheppard will be gone. Donald Strickland probably will be as well. The Jets must address this position in the offseason and bring in a player or two who can help Revis out. We saw what Peyton Manning did to what's left of the secondary. Rhodes had his troubles last season, and the Jets could shop him around and try to get a draft pick or help elsewhere. He's a talented player, but if someone is willing to give up a 3rd round pick, Rhodes could be gone.

Special teams: Nick Folk, Steve Weatherford
Need: Competition for Folk and Weatherford. Possibly a new return man.
Analysis: Folk was a very surprising free agent signing. He had two great years to start his career, but an injury and shattered confidence led to an awful 2009 season. Mike Tannenbaum saw Folk as a bargain and signed him to a one-year deal. It's possible Jay Feely comes back, but it's more likely that Folk is the opening day kicker. Weatherford had an okay season and will probably be back, but if the Jets can find an upgrade, Weatherford is replaceable. As far as the return game is concerned, the Jets could look to find someone new. Brad Smith had the biggest play of the regular season with his 106-yard kick return against Indianapolis, but the Jets would rather put someone else back there presumably. Leon Washington will probably be brought along slowly from a broken leg and not be thrown back on kickoffs. Jim Leonhard had sure hands as a punt returner when he was healthy, but he's also replaceable.