Archive for April, 2010

Rumor Roundup: April 28

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The deal with Adalius

Way back when, in early March, there was much talk around the league that two-time Pro Bowl selection Adalius Thomas was on his way out of New England.

Many speculated (including us here at JetsInsider) that Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who coached Thomas in Baltimore, would be more than interested in adding the veteran linebacker to his defensive unit.   Days turned into weeks, weeks into a month, without any divorce papers by the Patriots and Thomas.

Is Adalius Thomas next on the Jets offseason to-do list?

Meanwhile, the Jets went to work, turning their attention to longtime Dolphin foe Jason Taylor, eventually inking the 35-year-old to a two-year deal.   Adding Taylor to a linebacking core which already includes Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, David Harris, Bryan Thomas, and Jamaal Westerman, seemed to end any possibility of a “Raven Reunion” between Thomas and Ryan in New York.

Monday, following a draft weekend in which New England selected two-thirds of the University of Florida’s linebacking core, the Patriots finally cut ties with the 32-year-old Thomas.   About a week too late, right?  Think again.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, appearing on WFAN’s Boomer & Carton show Tuesday morning, did not rule the possibility of the Jets pursuing Thomas.   “Maybe down the line,” said Tannenbaum. “But really nothing imminent right now. We’re going to stand pat with what we have.  Maybe down the line, we’ll add a player of two.  Nothing on the horizon.”

If the Jets were to bring in Thomas, they would most certainly need to move on of their current linebackers, with Bryan Thomas being the most likely of casualties.  But would it be worth it?

Many believe that Thomas, who recorded 148 tackles and 14.5 sacks during a disappointing three-year stint in New England, simply is no longer the imposing defensive menace he once was.  Others say that Thomas simply just needed a change of scenery and couldn’t quite hack it in Bill Belichick’s system.

If there’s any coach that resurrect the once proud career of the veteran linebacker, it’s Rex Ryan.  Thomas thrived in Ryan’s defensive unit in Baltimore, earning All-Pro honors in ‘06 as well as Pro Bowl selections in ‘03 and ‘06.

It will definitely be interesting to watch how this situation develops in the coming weeks.  My guess:  When the Jets head up to Cortland for training camp in July, Adalius will be on the bus.

And a new deal for Gholston

Earlier this week, multiple outlets reported that the Jets have restructured the contract of 2008 first round pick, Vernon Gholston.  According to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, Gholston will receive a base salary of $2.25 million in 2010, in addition to a $4 million signing bonus and a workout bonus of $250,000.

But the real catch comes in 2011, when Gholston’s base salary will drop to $550,000 with the other possible $11.5 million coming from a roster bonus in March and performance-based incentives.  So what exactly does this all mean for the Jets?

Assuming the cap returns in ‘11, the Jets will be able to get out of Gholston’s contract without taking a significant cap hit, while giving him one last real chance to contribute.  If Gholston thrives next season at his new position of defensive end, he can receive up to $9 million in incentives.   If he tanks and continues his unproductive play, the Jets can cut him before March without shelling out a penny.  Everybody wins.

One can only hope that in year three of the Vernon Gholston experiment (and year two under Rex Ryan), the young linebacker-turned-defensive end will finally begin to produce at the level that was expected of him back in ‘08.  In 29 professional games, Gholston has shown next to nothing, recording only 30 tackles and still searching for his first career sack.

For Gholston, it’s now or never.

Mini-camp set to begin

This weekend in Florham Park, the Jets plan to look at a number of undrafted free agents and NFL hopefuls as they host their 2010 Mini-camp on Friday and Saturday at the facility.

According to Manish Mehta of The Star-Ledger, the team has invited the following list of players to participate this weekend:

Undrafted free agents:
Kevin Basped, LB, Nevada
Keith Buckman, OG, North Dakota State
Jeff Cumberland, TE, Illinois
Brian Jackson, CB, Oklahoma
Jason Lamb, DE, Baylor
Broderick Stewart, LB, Vanderbilt
Matt Stommes, OT, Minnesota
Charlie Tanner, OG, Texas
Don Warren , S, Michigan
Ernest Williams, DT, Pittsburgh

Tryout players:
Alex Brink, QB, Washington State
Marcus Burton, LB, Colorado
Mickey Dean, RB, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Marcus Ezeff, S, California
Philip Kirkland, WR, Bethune-Cookman
Marlon Lucky, RB, Nebraska
Wesley Lyons, WR, West Virginia
Donye McCleskey, S, Indiana State
Damon McDaniel, WR, Hampton
Michael Owen, TE, Syracuse
Erik Pedersen, LB, Portland State
Mark Petro, PK, Hillsdale
Jesse Rack, TE, Buffalo
Cory Reamer, LB, Alabama
Brooks Rossman, PK, Kansas State
Brashton Satele, LB, Hawaii
Alebert Toeaina, OT, Tennessee
Simi Toeaina, NT, Oregon
Eric Ward, QB, Richmond
Anthony Wiseman, CB, Maryland

Jets say “Hasta la vista” to Leon, draft fullback John Conner with fifth-rounder

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The Jets have agreed to trade running back Leon Washington and their seventh-round pick (236) to the Seattle Seahawks, in exchange for Seattle’s fifth-round pick (139). The Jets used the 139th pick to select fullback John Conner out of Kentucky.

After the selection of Joe McKnight created a logjam in the backfield, the Jets shipped Leon Washington to Seattle.

The move comes following the teams decision to trade up earlier in the draft and select USC running back Joe McKnight, with the eighth pick in the fourth-round. The addition of McKnight created a logjam at the running back position, with Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Leon Washington already under contract.

Washington, who is coming off a serious leg injury, did not figure in the Jets’ long-term plans, making him the odd man out.

Conner, the highest-rated fullback in the draft, figures to serve as the eventual successor to veteran Tony Richardson. The 5-foot-11, 246 pound Conner is considered to be a “throwback” at the position, excelling as an aggressive blocker and strong inside runner. In ‘09, he recorded 158 rushing yards on 13 attempts with 2 TD.

The former Wildcat posted solid numbers at the combine, benching 225 pounds 24 times, and completing the 20-yard shuttle run in 4.29 seconds.

Jets trade up for Trojan running back McKnight

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Trader Mike was at it again Saturday afternoon, trading up for a USC Trojan for the second-straight year.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum opened up Day 3 of the NFL Draft by trading up to the 112th pick in the fourth-round, selecting dynamic running back Joe McKnight from USC. In exchange for the pick, the Jets sent the Carolina Panthers their own fourth-round pick (124) and their sixth-round selection (198).

Could the Jets selection of USC's Joe McKnight in Round 4, spell the end for Leon Washington?

The six-foot, 190 pound McKnight, considered by many to be a “Reggie Bush clone”, enjoyed a successful three-year career in Los Angeles, but never quite lived up to the sky-high expectations put forth by the fans and media.

McKnight is the prototypical, two-way threat out of the backfield, possessing an ability to thrive in both the ground and receiving game. He boasts elite speed and explosion with an innate ability to make plays in the open field. Many experts and league GMs believed that McKnight had the freak athleticism to succeed at the pro level and would be worth a late-round gamble.

In 2009, McKnight rushed for a career-best, 1014 yards on 164 attempts with 8 TD. He was also a viable threat in the Trojan’s passing game, hauling in 22 receptions for 146 yards.

McKnight posted a 40 time of 4.47 at the 2010 Scouting Combine, fifth-best among running backs, as well as a vertical jump of 36.5 inches, eighth-best.

The Jets’ decision to trade up and nab McKnight at 112 indicates that Leon Washington’s days could be numbered in Florham.   The 27-year-old Washington, coming off of a career threatening leg injury, agreed to his one-year contract tender earlier this month.

With Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and now McKnight at the running back position, Washington appears to be the odd man out.   The team will most likely look to trade the fifth-year veteran before training camp.   If Washington is not traded, it is almost certain that he will not be re-signed to a long-term deal, following the 2010 season.

Jets bolster secondary, bring home Wilson at 29 [UPDATED]

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The rich get richer, courtesy of a Jersey boy.

The New York Jets added yet another weapon to their league-leading defense Thursday night, selecting Boise State cornerback and former Piscataway High School standout Kyle Wilson with the 29th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Jets went defense at 29, nabbing local Jersey product Kyle Wilson of Boise State. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The 5-foot-10, 195 pound Wilson adds superb coverage skills and athleticism to a Jets secondary which already features two Pro Bowlers in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

“It honestly couldn’t be any better,” said Wilson, on playing with Revis and Cromartie.  “I’m looking to learn as much as I can from them and push them.  It’s just going to be a great competition.  Those guys have been playing well for years and I look forward to playing well as well, but learning as much as I can from them.  I don’t think it could be a better situation.”

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum stated Thursday night that Wilson will start at the nickelback position and compete on special teams for the punt return job.

The former Bronco was considered by many draft experts to be the best coverage corner in the draft pool, excelling at using his speed and strength to jam receivers off the line of scrimmage.  Wilson also figures to aid Gang Green in the return game, an area at which he excelled at the college level.

“I definitely think I’ll fit in well,” Wilson said. That confidence about (Coach Ryan) and that sense of really having fun and loving the game of football. It’s really that connection between the two of us that seems to be perfect.”

The Piscataway native tallied 159 tackles and 11 interceptions over his four-year career at Boise State.   During a senior campaign in ‘09, in which he was named a mid-season All American by The Sporting News, Wilson recorded a collegiate career-best 42 tackles and picked off three passes, two for touchdowns.   Wilson was also one of twelve semifinalists for the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given out to the best defensive back in college football.

In speaking to reporters late last night, Wilson revealed that he first received a call from the Minnesota Vikings, who planned to take the corner with their pick at 30.  However, Mike Tannenbaum and company had other ideas.

“It’s funny because I was on the phone with the Vikings,” said Wilson. “I don’t know if they were trying to hold me on the line, but I got a call, and then somehow the phone hung up. Then, I got another call and I ended up talking to Rex Ryan and it was a whirlwind at that point. I really just couldn’t believe that this was happening.”

New York nabbed Wilson, one pick before Minnesota,at 29.  As a result, Minnesota traded out of the first round, shipping their pick to the Detroit Lions.   Detroit selected California running back Jahvid Best at 30.

“He was the best player on the board, said Tannenbaum. “When we were putting our strategy together, I would say that in this case the board and need aligned. Which is from our perspective, that’s the dream scenario where what you feel like what the most pressing need for your team and the best player when you pick align.”

Wilson played his high school ball at New Jersey’s Piscataway High School, a stone’s throw away from Gang Green’s Florham Park facility.  At Piscataway, Wilson led the football team to three consecutive state championships and two undefeated seasons in ‘02 and ‘04, earning All-State honors as a wide receiver.

The Jets newest cornerback made it clear Thursday night, that he was happy to be headed home.

“To be honest, I feel like I’m right at home,” he said. “Personally, it was one of the best visits I had. One of the best connections I had (was) with this staff. I couldn’t have dreamt it any better (laughing). I’m feeling pretty surreal right now.”

With the cornerback position now secured, the Jets will most likely address the safety and linebacker positions in the second round of the draft, Friday night.  New York owns the 61st pick but does not have a third round selection.   The Jets dealt their third round pick to Cleveland in the trade for receiver Braylon Edwards, back in October.

Breaking down the schedule

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

As reported earlier here at JetsInsider, the NFL regular season schedule has finally been released.   Let the analysis/predictions/over-analysis/knee-jerk reactions begin.

After looking over the Jets schedule in-depth for a couple of hours now (God, I wish I had some free time), let me join in the fun.

Braylon Edwards returns to Cleveland in the Jets' Week 10 matchup. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

  • Still can’t over the fact that ESPN had a two-hour special tonight on the RELEASE OF THE SCHEDULE.  Can you imagine what the draft coverage is going to be like all weekend?  Anyway…
  • Home opener on Monday night against Baltimore.   Would’ve rather seen the ‘Fins in this spot, but hey Baltimore is certainly no slouch of an opponent, intrigue-wise.   Plenty of interesting sub-plots for this one: First game in the new stadium, Boldin vs. Revis, Rex vs. his old squad, and my personal favorite, the Meadowlands debut of Jason Taylor.   Maybe it’s better off that it wasn’t Miami in Week 1.  Asking the Jets faithful to cheer for Jason Taylor is one thing.  Asking them to do it after seeing him exchange bro-hugs with former teammates, is quite another.
  • Week 2 at home against New England, for the second straight season.   If this game gets half as loud as it was last year, I may need to invest in a pair of hearing aids very soon.  Between the infamous “Air Raid” sirens and the unbelievable energy from the crowd that day, last week’s Week 2 victory will be hard to top.  Gang Green and the Gang Green faithful will do their best.
  • Week 3, Sunday night in Miami.  Also known as REVIS-MARSHALL I. Jason Taylor returns to Sun Life Stadium or Land Shark or Pro Player or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days.  After all the vocal jabbing that went on between these two teams all of last year, I think it’s safe to say that both squads will be on edge for this one.
  • Week 5, Minnesota at home on Monday Night Football.   Possibly Brett Favre’s prime-time homecoming to East Rutherford.   Or not.   Or maybe.  One thing that is certain; A.P. will be in uniform for the Vikings and ready to take on the Jets’ vaunted defense.   Not to mention, this will be Santonio Holmes’ regular season debut.
  • Week 10, the Jets travel out to Cleveland for a Sunday matinee against Mangenius.   It’s safe to say there will be plenty of “Hey coach, nice to see you but damn am I glad you’re not coaching us anymore” exchanges between Mangini and the longer-tenured Jets.  Here’s to hoping Eric decides on a starting quarterback by halftime.   Another storyline will be the return of Braylon Edwards, who should certainly receive a rousing ovation from the Dog Pound…
  • Week 12, Thanksgiving night at home against Cincinnati.  This has all the makings to be epic:  Turkey Day, prime-time, Ochocinco-Revis III.   The best part about this is the 8:20 PM EST start.   So by the time you wake up from your post-dinner, sausage stuffing and marshmallow yams-induced coma, it’ll be time for kickoff.
  • Week 15, in Pittsburgh.   Santonio Holmes makes his return to the Steel City.  Nothing better than a late-season, hopefully high-stakes competition between two AFC contenders.  Gotta have Nantz/Simms on the call for this one.  GOT TO.
  • Week 17, Jets close at home against Buffalo.   Who said the schedule gods weren’t generous?

Prediction: 11-5

Much like ‘09, Gang Green comes out of the gate sprinting, then sputters, then dashes towards the finish line.   I’m predicting a fast 4-0 start, followed by three straight losses to Minnesota, Denver, and Green Bay.   Rex Ryan’s crew bounces back, feasting on the likes of Cleveland and Detroit en route to a four-game winning streak.   They then finish 3-2 over their last five, falling at Foxboro and in Pittsburgh.

Report: Taylor signs with Jets

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Multiple sources are reporting Tuesday afternoon that former Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor has agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the New York Jets.

Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald reports that Taylor is expected to fly to New York to meet with Jets brass, Wednesday morning, to make the deal official.   Salguero also states that the true agreement will be a two-year deal for $13 million, however that includes a large roster bonus in 2011, which New York is not expected to pay.

WHODA THUNK? It appears that long time Dolphin Jason Taylor is now a NY Jet.

The move comes after weeks of speculation that the six-time Pro Bowler had been mulling the idea of joining his longtime nemesis.  After talking the move over with his family and accepting the fact that the Dolphins had no plans to offer him a contract at this time, Taylor decided on the Jets.

The Jets reportedly gave Taylor an ultimatum: Sign here before the draft or forever hold your peace.  With Taylor now locked up, New York finds itself with more flexibility heading into Thursday’s draft.

Taylor, 35, brings his highly coveted pass rushing ability to a Jets defense which led the league in nearly every statistical category in 2009, except sacks.   The fourteen-year veteran is the NFL’s active leader in sacks and has recorded more sacks than any player since 2000.  The Taylor signing makes it less likely now that the Jets will trade up in the first round to select a pass-rusher.

Many questioned whether the move would be embraced by the Jets locker room.  Taylor has been a long-time rival of some of the longer tenured Jets and has made critical statements in the past regarding his disdain for the organization.  So far, there has been no such backlash.

Upon hearing the news of the signing, Jet cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie reacted enthusiastically on Twitter.

“Another great move by the organization by acquiring Jason Taylor,” tweeted Cromartie.  “Man oh man.”

“Yes, we have Jason Taylor,” added Revis.  “It’s on now.”

In 2009 with Miami, Taylor recorded 42 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception.

Rumor Roundup: April 16

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Jets give receiver new ‘Holme’

Late Sunday night, the Jets made headlines around the country by acquiring former Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The price was right for the supremely talented but troubled receiver, as Pittsburgh commanded only a future fifth-round draft pick in return.

The blockbuster move,which came seemingly out of left field, is one that elevates the Jets’ offense into the upper echelon of the NFL.  The 26-year-old Holmes gives New York the downfield speedster they sorely lacked in the receiving core.   The 5-foot-11 receiver also provides the Jets with game-breaking ability the team hasn’t seen since the departure of Santana Moss after the ‘04 season.   Holmes has had a knack for making the big play throughout his four-year career, averaging 16.7 YPC, which is seventh-best in the NFL, since ‘06.

“We’re excited to have Santonio,” said Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, Monday.  “We think he’s a dynamic play-maker…We felt that here’s an opportunity to get a 26-year-old receiver who is a dynamic play-maker that has obviously had some indiscretions.  It was something that the pros outweighed the cons.  Again, there were some negatives, but at the end of the day, we felt good enough to pull the trigger.”

The addition of Holmes also figures to aid the progression of Mark Sanchez, giving the young quarterback another legitimate weapon in the passing game.

“It’s just a huge addition for our offense,” said Sanchez, Thursday.  “He’s an explosive player (and) a guy who catches the ball five yards and takes it 90.  He’s a special talent that way.  He’s shown he can play big in very important games, obviously in the Super Bowl as the MVP.  He really is a great talent, so it’s going to be fun to work with him.”

Holmes, who admitted that he was “very shocked” by the trade, believes that he could be the Jets’ missing piece to the Super Bowl puzzle. “I know for a fact that’s why they brought me here,” said Holmes, Monday.  “The opportunity presented itself for the Jets to acquire me and I’m definitely here for a reason.  My goal is, wherever I’m playing at, each season that I’m playing, is to try to win a championship.  With the opportunity that’s been presented to me, I’m willing to take it and step up to the (plate) and go forward.”

Only hours after being traded to New York, Holmes was informed that he would indeed be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 regular season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Holmes conceded that perhaps a change of scenery may not be such a bad thing after-all and that it is time for the 26-year-old to show some accountability for his actions.   “I can’t predict the future, so I didn’t know what was going to happen with me up until this point and even as far as winning the Super Bowl MVP,” he said.  “Everything that happened, has happened for a reason.  (I’m) definitely being accountable for what happened.”

“Also, getting traded at the age of 26, that’s not a bad thing.  There have been plenty of guys before me who have been traded that started their career over with another team and have been very successful, such as Cris Carter.  It’s definitely not a bad thing to be traded at a young age.  It’s to give you an opportunity and a fresh start and to sit back and understand all of the mistakes that you’ve made and you’re willing to accept them and move forward.”

…And Miami responds

Maybe we shouldn’t hand the Jets that AFC East title just yet.   Only 48 hours after Gang Green’s trade for Santonio Holmes, their hated division rivals in South Florida made a big splash of their own.

Wednesday,the Dolphins landed Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos, in exchange for second round draft picks in both 2010 and 2011.  Not long after, Miami agreed to a four-year extension with the 26-year-old receiver.  The record-breaking deal, worth $47.5 million, including $24 million in guaranteed money, makes Marshall the highest-paid receiver in league history.

The 6-foot-4, 230 pound Marshall gives Miami and young quarterback Chad Henne, a big-time receiver who will draw double-coverages and add another element to the “Wildcat” offensive attack.   Marshall is the complete package of supreme strength, great hands, and jaw-dropping athleticism, who imposes fear into the heart of every cornerback in the league.   Well, maybe not every corner.

The Dolphins’ acquisition of Marshall also guarantees a twice-a-year pay-per-view showdown between the league’s most imposing receiver and most dominant corner, Darrelle Revis.

Marshall, meeting with the Miami media for the first time on Thursday, offered his take on the showdown:

“As for Revis Island, I’m not sure where that is,” joked Marshall. “Where is Revis Island?…”Well, I just got married. Maybe we’ll honeymoon there.”

Revis is more than up to the challenge, according to Newsday’s Bob Glauber.

Revis welcomes the challenge from his good friend.

“It’s another thing with a big-time receiver in the AFC East,” said Revis, who has known Marshall for about three years. “It’s good for Miami. They needed a big-time receiver, and I get to play him twice. That’s the good thing about it.”

No worries on Revis’ part. None whatsoever.

“Y’all know me,” he said. “I love competition. I love to compete, no matter who steps up, whoever comes to this conference, whoever leaves this conference. I’m that type of guy, and our team is that type of team. We don’t care what happens. We’ll make our offseason acquisitions, too. We see it and it’s like, ‘OK, we’ll see you on Sunday.’ ”

Love the attitude. Revis couldn’t care less who the opponent is, no matter how good. The better the player, the more Revis relishes the opportunity. The word scared is not in this man’s vocabulary.

Get your popcorn ready.
Leon returns…finally

In an offseason of big names and many new faces, the Jets made arguably their most important move on Thursday, officially bringing back an old face.

The team announced Thursday that  Leon Washington had finally agreed to sign his one-year tender, worth $1.75 million.  The move comes after a highly-publicized two-month standoff between Washington and the Jets in which the 27-year old running back did not report to the team’s facility for optional workouts, shopping his services to other teams around the NFL.

Leon Washington will back with Gang Green in '10. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Despite his brief hiatus from the team, Washington was all smiles Thursday, making it abundantly clear that he was happy to be back with Gang Green.

“It’s great to be back,” said Washington.  “Walking in today, I felt all the love like I’ve felt the past four years.”

Washington, who has totaled 1,782 rushing yards, 969 receiving yards and 15 offensive touchdowns in his four seasons in New York, opted to not sign a contract extension before the 2009 season.   After suffering a season-ending leg injury during a Week 7 win in Oakland, Washington’s future in New York became cloudy.

Unsure of how well Washington would bounce-back from surgery on his right leg, the team tendered the former Pro Bowler at a second-round level, back  in March.  The Jets’ signing of LaDainian Tomlinson weeks later sent the message that the team was ready to move on, with or without Washington.

Washington spent the past month in Pensacola, Florida, spending time with his family and training at Dr. James Andrews’ Advanced Performance Institute.  Three weeks ago, he began running in a straight line and will be reevaluated by the Jets’ medical staff next week.

(more…)

Breaking News: Jets roll dice, acquire Steelers’ WR Holmes

Monday, April 12th, 2010

According to multiple sources, the Jets have acquired former Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, in exchange for a conditional fifth rounder.

The acquisition of Holmes is the latest of bold offseason maneuvers by Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, who had already made headlines by acquiring running back LaDainian Tomlinson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

It seems the Jets could have a steal in acquiring talented WR Santonio Holmes for just a 5th round draft pick.

Holmes bolsters New York’s receiving core which already includes former Pro Bowler Braylon Edwards and veteran Jerricho Cotchery.   This move gives the Jets the supreme downfield speed they had been lacking, adding yet another weapon to quarterback Mark Sanchez’s arsenal.

However, the 26-year-old  Holmes does not come without baggage.   The fifth-year veteran has been involved in a number of legal transgressions throughout his young career.   Most recently, it has been reported that Holmes is facing a four-game suspension under the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Last month, it was reported that Holmes was accused of throwing a glass at a woman in an Orlando nightclub, and cutting her above the eye.

The former Ohio State Buckeye is coming off his most impressive statistical season in the NFL.   Holmes hauled in 79 passes for 1,248 yards with 5 TD in 2009.

Rumor Roundup: April 10

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Something smells Fishy

File this one under “headlines you never thought you would read in a million years”.   According to multiple sources, the Jets have expressed a strong interest in free agent linebacker and longtime Miami Dolphins nemesis, Jason Taylor.  Taylor visited the teams’ complex in Florham Park on Wednesday and Thursday.  He was also given a helicopter ride to the new Meadowlands stadium and wined and dined by Jets brass.

This is a perplexing move by Mike Tannenbaum, both PR-wise and football-wise.  While Taylor was one of the league’s most feared pass rushers in his prime, he is now 35 and a shell of the player he once was.  He is coming off a solid season in ‘09, in which he recorded 42 tackles and seven sacks.  But is he really that much of an upgrade over Bryan Thomas, the man he would likely be replacing in the lineup?

Could this man be possibly suiting up in the Green and White in 2010?

This is the same Jason Taylor that has publicly stated his disdain for the Jets organization and its fans.   I doubt many Jet fans have forgotten about the comments the veteran linebacker made on Sirius NFL Radio, back in November:

“The Giants fans are a different type of people, just put it that way. There’s a little more class on the Giants side and some Jets fans take the ‘cl’ out of class.”

“To score a touchdown in New York against the Jets in the last time I’ll be in the hellhole they call a stadium up there before they get rid of it and move to the new one, it was outstanding.

Taylor has reportedly flown back to his home and will make his decision in the coming days.   As of late Friday night, there has still been no word of an official agreement between the two sides.   However multiple sources believe that the unlikeliest of marriages is imminent. 

The Star-Ledger’s Manish Mehta tweeted Thursday that it was “basically a done deal”.   Additionally, Friday, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, reported the deal to be “close to done”, citing an associate close to Taylor.

Brunell coming too?

If Taylor ends up not signing with the Jets, that could open up the door for another free agent signing.   Veteran quarterback Mark Brunell visited the team’s facility on Wednesday and is reportedly interested in signing, but cannot do so until Jason Taylor makes up his mind.

The NFL’s “Final Four” rule limits the Jets to signing one free agent, after losing Jay Feely to the Cardinals.  Right now the available $1.5 million slot is reserved for Taylor.  If Taylor has a change of heart, that will open up the door for Brunell to sign.

The 39-year-old Brunell would serve as a mentor for Mark Sanchez and bring some veteran stability to the quarterback core.

Slim Kick’ns

Following the official departure of Jay Feely late last week (signing a 2-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals), many speculated that the Jets would look to bring in the man who Feely is replacing in  Arizona, veteran Neil Rackers, as Feely’s replacement (Still following?).

However, that idea went out the window quicker than you can say “Doug Brien”.  Monday, Rackers agreed to a two-year deal with the Houston Texans.   Rackers is expected to compete with the incumbent Kris Brown for the starting job in training camp.  Judging by Brown’s less than stellar performance in 2009 (11 missed field goals, 65.6%), it probably won’t be much of a competition.

Where does this all leave the Jets?  That remains to be seen.  On Tuesday, the team agreed to terms with free agent kicker Clint Stitser.   Who? Let me fill you in.

Stitser, who went undrafted out of Fresno State University in 2008, has zero NFL experience (probably explains why no one has ever heard of him).  He did however complete 71% of his field goals in college.  Not excited yet?

The Jets are fooling themselves if they truly plan on heading into the season with Nick Folk and Clint Stitser, as the only options at the kicking position.  Folk is by no means a lock to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2007, making him a huge question mark.

The kicker position is one that is often overlooked in the NFL.  While losing Jay Feely isn’t going to make the Jets a 4-12 team overnight, it certainly doesn’t make them a better team.   Feely was rock-solid last season, completing 83.3% of his field goal attempts.   Every time the Jets trotted out Feely from inside 45 yards, you knew they had a legitimate chance to score three points.   It was one less thing that Rex Ryan and his staff had to worry about.

For a team that barely snuck into the playoffs, Feely’s kicking was enormous.  Two or three more missed field goals and maybe there is no playoffs in Rex Ryan’s first season.  Maybe without Jay Feely, there is no run to the AFC Championship Game.

A missed field goal here, a missed goal there can be the difference between a good season and a great one.  Ask the 2004 Jets, who fell three points short of a trip to the AFC Championship.  Or the the ‘04 and ‘09 Chargers.   Good kicking matters (especially in playoff games) and good kickers are tough to find.

The Jets would be well-served to at least take a look at a serviceable, proven veteran in the free agency pool.   Matt Stover, Shayne Graham, and John Carney are all still available.

On the bright side, Clint Stitser is reportedly the strongest kicker in Fresno State history, according to the school’s website.  At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds in college, Stitser was able  to bench press 395 and squat 500.

Maybe he could help the Jets’ pass rush…

Unfinished Business

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

While locker room faces change, Jets’ goal remains same

“You never get over it.”

How could anyone?   Losing in the AFC Championship Game is tough enough.  Doing so while being relegated to the sideline, forced to spectate while a future Hall of Fame quarterback takes your defensive unit to school?  Well that’s a completely different animal.

Such was the case for Jets linebacker Bart Scott.   Scott, the mouthpiece of the NFL’s loudest defense in ‘09, was uncharacteristically quiet during his team’s  season-ending, 30-17 loss to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

The 29-year-old veteran’s mummified left ankle was by no means even close to being in playing condition, prompting Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan to dub Scott, “the one-legged man” following the loss.

Scott still tried to play through it, recording two tackles in severely limited snaps, unable to drop back into the Nickel coverage the Jets went with most of the game.

Since January, Scott’s sore left ankle has healed.   The same cannot be said for the open wound of relinquishing a 17-13 halftime advantage in Indy, falling thirty minutes short of a trip to Miami for Scott and the Jets.   That one still stings considerably.

“I never forget,” said Scott Thursday.  “People can say that they forget.  Maybe it doesn’t have the same bite that it had when you just lost, but you never forget.”

“I don’t get over any loss I’ve ever had.  It keeps me going.  The mistakes that I’ve made in those games and how those games have ended is what motivates me to make sure that I’m better.”

With 2009 in the rear-view mirror, and the book on 2010 set to begin, the goal for Rex Ryan’s bunch is ostensibly clear-cut:  Play for sixty more minutes and bring home the trophy.

“It was a good run,” says quarterback Mark Sanchez.  We put together a heck of a run.  It’s still frustrating to think we were so close.”

“It’s motivation for next year, it’s encouraging and it’s something to build on for next year, but there’s plenty to work on.”

Since that fateful Sunday in Indy, the Jets roster has been worked on, the revolving door in Florham Park spinning numerous times.  Gone is the team’s leading rusher from last season and most polarizing locker room figure, Thomas Jones.   Gone is Kerry Rhodes, the safety whose unexpected fall from grace was one of the biggest stories of the ‘09 season.

Meanwhile,  kicker Jay Feely, arguably the team’s most consistent performer from last season and running back Leon Washington, the offense’s most explosive weapon, both seem to be on the fast track out of Florham.

Replacing Jones is LaDainian Tomlinson, a future Hall of Famer coming off his worst professional season, looking to revitalize his career in New York.   Joining Tomlinson in New York is his former San Diego teammate, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, another fallen star searching for a fresh start in the Big Apple.

Bart Scott sure hasn't forgotten about the Jets' season-ending loss to Indy and believes the team should use it for motivation in 2010 (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Both Tomlinson and Cromartie figure to serve prominent roles in 2010.   Tomlinson, the veteran two-way threat out of the backfield, spelling and mentoring the young Shonn Greene.   Cromartie, playing Robin to Darrelle Revis’s Batman, giving Gang Green somebody capable of locking-up a Pierre Garçon, the next time around.

However it is clear that the boys from the Left Coast are not being counted on as saviors in any way.

“The pieces are already put together,” says the 25-year-old Cromartie.  “I’m just here to help out as much as I can and contribute to this team and organization the best way I can.”

The 30-year-old Tomlinson was cognizant of the veteran roster he would be joining in New York, but noted Thursday that he was pleasantly surprised at just how tight-knit a group this Jets team is.

“You think about the New York Jets and a lot going on,” said Tomlinson.   “Big city and a lot of media.  A lot of guys tend to not stick together.  Guys kind of spread apart, but this team is really close.  That’s really surprised me.”

“Just watching film on them, seeing them from afar and now being close and watching them work, how they interact with each other and the team, it’s a real special group of guys.  I can’t wait to start being a part of that.”
With Tomlinson and Cromartie and whoever the Jets add in this month’s draft, the goal remains the same.   Get back to the playoffs and back to the AFC Championship.   And this time, finish the job.

Or as Bart Scott calls it, get another opportunity “to slay the dragon.”

“You hope that you get another opportunity to play that team and make them feel what you feel.”

Regrouped and retooled are these Jets.   They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

INSIDER TIDBITS

Sanchez update

Good news on the Mark Sanchez front…sort of.

While the 23-year-old quarterback is progressing well from the surgery he underwent on his left knee six weeks ago, he has yet to begin running on the knee or participate in football related activities.   There is also currently no timetable to when the second-year pro will be able to do so.

“We’re just working on strengthening and getting the motion back,” Sanchez said Thursday.  “It’s feeling really well.  I’m walking around without a hiccup or anything.  They’re really excited about the progress so far.”

“As cliché as it sounds, we’re taking it one day at a time.  It’s really like that.  They’ve used the term cautiously aggressive.  They want to make sure I’m getting the right kind of sore, without hurting. The kind of sore you bounce back from and that’s the way it’s been the entire time.  It’s getting stronger and it’s feeling good.  I’m just happy I can walk around already.”

The procedure to strengthen the patella-stabilizing ligament in Sanchez’s left-knee was designed to eliminate any further tweaks of the knee cap.  Sanchez originally dislocated his knee cap before his junior season at USC and aggravated the injury last season in Week 12 against Carolina.

Despite the fact that Sanchez will most likely be unable to participate in OTAs and mini-camp, the quarterback believes that he will “absolutely, without a doubt” be ready for the start of training camp in July.

Sanchez added that he is unsure at this point whether he will have to wear a brace on the knee for the upcoming season.   “I don’t know, he said.  “They’ve talked about it, but I’m not worried.  I think maybe at the beginning I’ll have to wear something, but they said it should be stronger than it ever was.  I won’t have to worry about having it again, hopefully.