Archive for February, 2010

Rumor Roundup: Feb. 25

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Jonesing for a pay-cut

Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger reported Wednesday that the Jets plan to release veteran running back Thomas Jones if he does not agree to a contract renegotiation.

The 32-year-old Jones, who rushed for a career-high 1,204 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, is due a $3 million roster bonus next month and a base salary of $2.8 million in 2010.

While Jones was instrumental in the Jets’ league-leading ground attack last season, he faded dramatically down the stretch.   That, coupled with the breakout postseason performance of rookie Shonn Greene, makes the eleven-year veteran expendable.

With a backfield of Leon Washington and Greene, the Jets’ rushing attack shouldn’t lose a step.   However, the team would be wise to investigate trading Jones as opposed to releasing him, getting nothing in return.  Though he is definitely on the downside of his career, Jones would be a perfect fit for a team looking for a dependable, veteran back and could yield some value in the trade market.

The emergence of rookie Shonn Greene has made veteran Thomas Jones expendable this offseason. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Don’t rule out a possible return to either Chicago or Arizona for Jones, both of whom would serve as suitable trade partners.   Both struggled to run the ball in ‘09 and both have young, talented running backs in Matt Forte and Beanie Wells, whom Jones could mentor.

Jets ponder LaBoy

On Tuesday, Daily News writer Rich Cimini reported that the Jets are entertaining the idea of bringing in former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Travis LaBoy to bolster their pass rush.

LaBoy, a second-round pick of the Titans in ‘04, has recorded 23.5 career sacks in five seasons and started 12 games for the Cardinals during their Super Bowl season in 2008.   After injuring his biceps midway through the ‘08 season, LaBoy was cut last April and sat out the entire 2009 season.

At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, the 28-year-old LaBoy could definitely help the Jets as a situational pass rusher in select packages.   LaBoy had dinner with Jets officials on Tuesday night and was expected to meet with the rest of the organization on Wednesday.

The five-year veteran has also drawn some interest from the San Fransisco 49ers, this offseason.

Rolle-ing possibility?

It is speculated that another Arizona Cardinal could hit the open market in the coming weeks, Pro Bowl free safety Antrel Rolle.  The former first-round pick is due a $4 million roster bonus next week and it has been speculated that the team will cut Rolle, unless they can sign him to an extension.

Rolle, a cornerback who was converted to the safety position by Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt, is coming off of his finest season as a pro.  He is the ideal safety for Rex Ryan’s system, a hard-hitting, aggressive defender in the mold of Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens.

While the chance of Rolle landing in the Big Apple is undoubtedly a long-shot, it is not an impossibility.  If Rolle is cut, the Jets would be allowed to sign him since he would not classify as a free agent under the “Final Eight Rule” of the CBA.

If anything, Mike Tannenbaum and company should monitor the Rolle situation just to cover their backs.  Multiple outlets have reported that the Dolphins have a strong interest in Rolle, who played his college ball at the University of Miami.

While signing Rolle would definitely come at a high price tag, it may be worth it to keep the Pro Bowler out of South Beach.   Additionally,  Rolle would be a significant upgrade over the incumbent Kerry Rhodes, who struggled in his first season under head coach Rex Ryan.

2-piece tender meal

Cimini has also reported this week, via twitter, that the Jets are expected to tender restricted-free agents Brad Smith and Leon Washington at the second-round level.   This means that if any team were to sign either player, they would have to send the Jets a second-round draft pick in exchange.

Offensive Prospect of the Week:  Golden  Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Tate is one of the most electrifying players on this year’s draft board and has the potential to be an explosive downfield threat in the NFL.   At South Bend, Tate exhibited a knack for making the big play and dazzling, second-gear speed in the open field.  At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, the speedy Tate has drawn comparisons to former Jet wideout Santana Moss.   The addition of a receiver of Tate’s caliber would open up the field for receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards, while giving Mark Sanchez the legitimate vertical threat he covets.

Jets sign kicker Nick Folk…Asomugha on the block?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Multiple media outlets are reporting that the Jets have come to terms on a one-year deal with former Dallas Cowboys kicker Nick Folk.  Folk, who enjoyed a Pro Bowl rookie season in 2007, was brought in for a workout with the team last week.

This move comes in response to kicker Jay Feely hitting the open free agency market.   With uncertainty rising over whether Feely will be back with the team next season, the Jets brass decided that Folk was a viable safety plan.

Folk struggled last season, converting only 18 of 28 field goal attempts and was cut by Dallas in late December after missing missing a critical field goal against the New Orleans Saints.

Meanwhile…

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that the Oakland Raiders are looking to shake-up their roster and are having a number of discussions with teams about possible trades.  Schefter also noted that the team is open to dealing All-World corner Nnamdi Asomugha, but his mammoth contract makes him virtually immovable.

The Raiders are reportedly shopping Nnamdi Asomugha, a potential target for the Jets

Asomugha, widely regarded as one of the league’s top coverage corners, is entering the second year of a three year/$45.3 million deal, which he signed last February, making him the highest-paid defensive back in league history.  The two-time Pro Bowler is slated to make at least $16 million in the final year of his deal, if the Raiders choose to pick up his option.

Despite his insane contract, Asomugha is a truly special talent and at 28, is still in the prime of his career.   With the prospects of an uncapped year and the Jets need for a legitimate number two corner to pair with Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis in the secondary, this is a move that would make sense on so many levels.

Revis and Asomugha are considered 1A and 1B in terms of ranking the league’s corners.   Adding “1B” to a pass defense which led the league in nearly every statistical category and only allowed 8 aerial touchdowns all of last season is a truly terrifying concept for opposing offenses.  The addition of another top-flight corner would undoubtedly propel Rex Ryan’s defense to elite-level.

The Jets could offer Oakland a number of draft picks in a package for Asomugha, something the Raiders covet to rebuild their struggling franchise.  Asomugha is surely a stronger talent than anyone that would be available for the Jets at 29 and beyond.

But is Asomugha’s contract too rich for the blood of  Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum or more importantly, owner Woody Johnson?  We shall see…

Rumor Roundup: Feb. 19

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

It’s no secret that one of Gang Green’s most glaring needs this off-season is an impact pass-rusher.  The league’s leading defense registered only 32 sacks all of last season, with the majority coming from blitz packages.  In order for the Jets’  defense to reach an elite level, they must acquire some more talent on the edge or in the linebacking core.   Since the NFL CBA’s “Final Eight Rule” prevents the Jets from acquiring a Julius Peppers or Elvis Dumervil through trades or free agency, the team must lean heavily on April’s Draft for personnel upgrades.

Here are some possible draftees that could help the Jets bull-rush the backfield in 2010:

1) Carlos Dunlap, Defensive End, Florida

The 6-foot-6, 290 pound Dunlap is an absolute specimen who has drawn comparisons to Mario Williams.   Dunlap is coming off a somewhat disappointing junior season which included inconsistent play and off-field transgressions.  He has shown glimpses of his scary potential, possessing great strength and agility and solid closing speed.   The sky is limit for Dunlap, who could develop into an elite pass-rusher at the pro level.

It is highly unlikely that Dunlap would be available when the Jets make their first-round selection at 29.   However, Mike Tannenbaum and company have demonstrated that they are not afraid to trade up and get their guy in years past (Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, David Harris, Mark Sanchez).

2) Sergio Kindle, Defensive End, Texas

Kindle has the size (6-4, 255) and ability to play both the linebacker and defensive end positions and would seem to be a perfect fit in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense.  He is lightning-quick off the ball and has the speed to run with receivers and backs.  Much like Dunlap, Kindle is projected to go early to middle of the first round, so the Jets would need to trade up for him.

3) Everson Griffen, Defensive End, USC

A late bloomer in his college career, Griffen has developed into one of the most intriguing defensive prospects in this draft.  He moves very well for a 280-pounder and is a powerful tackler.  While Griffen may lack the explosion of Dunlap and Kindle, he is the ultimate space-eater, constantly dominating the line of scrimmage with his huge 6-foot-3 frame.  He is very tough matchup because of his supreme strength and is very effective against the running game.   Griffen is projected as a late first-early second round pick.

4) Ricky Sapp, Linebacker/Defensive End, Clemson

Sapp is the prototypical “pass rusher” who will most likely play linebacker at the pro level.  He is one of the best athletes in the draft pool and has great off-the-snap quickness, using his speed to beat tackles on the outside.   Sapp needs to get bigger and more efficient in coverage but could serve as a solid edge-rusher in a 3-4 scheme like that of the Jets.  He is projected as a middle to late second rounder.

Mending the Sanchise

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez underwent successful surgery on his left knee, which he injured at USC and aggravated during his rookie season.  The surgery,  which repaired a patella-stabilizing ligament in the knee, was performed by the Jets’ team doctor, Ken Montgomery, at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.

Mark Sanchez's knee surgery shouldn't keep the quarterback out of training camp. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Wednesday, Sanchez tweeted the following on his Twitter page:

“Out of surgery. Doc says it went exceptionally well. Thx to Dr. (Ken) Montgomery.Thx to family, friends and tweeps for the love and well wishes”

Sanchez is expected to miss the early portion of the team’s offseason program but will be ready in time for training camp in July.

Folk music

Faced with the impending free agency of kicker Jay Feely, the Jets brought in former Dallas Cowboys’ kicker Nick Folk for a workout this week, according to a report by ProFootballTalk.com.   Since his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2007, Folk has suffered a dramatic fall from grace, concluding with Dallas severing ties with the third-year kicker in late December.   Folk is also scheduled to workout with the New York Giants.

The team is expected to bring in a number of kickers for a look during the coming weeks, but no move is imminent.  It would be in the Jets’ best interest to re-sign the veteran Feely who enjoyed one of his most prosperous seasons in 2009.  The 33-year-old Feely connected on 33 of 41 field goals attempts and was a perfect 39-for-39 on extra-points throughout the regular season and playoffs.

Jets tender the Smiths

Earlier this week, The Star-Ledger’s Dave Hutchinson reported that the team plans to tender offers to safety Eric Smith and wide receiver Brad Smith.   Both are restricted free agents.

Offensive Draft Prospect of the Week: Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

Shipley is the prototypical “NFL-Ready” receiver, a Wes Welker clone who is exactly the type of weapon the Jets should look to bring in to accelerate the progression of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

What the six-foot, 190 pound Shipley may lack in size, he makes up for with smarts.   He possesses great quickness, precise route-running ability, and sure hands which make him a dangerous slot-receiver threat at the next level.   Shipley would provide the perfect middle-of-the-field complement to Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery on the outside.  He also has demonstrated superb ability as a punt returner, another position of need for the Jets.