Rumor Roundup: March 19
Ground game gets Rich-er
In a week which saw the Jets make a huge splash in the free agent market by inking future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson to a two-year deal, New York also made another big move, this one less decorated. On Tuesday, the team announced they were bringing back fullback Tony Richardson, a key component of the Jets’ league-leading rushing-attack last season.
The 38-year-old Richardson, entering his 16th NFL season in 2010, has exhibited no signs of slowing down and still remains one of the most effective players in the league at his position. Stats do not tell the story for Richardson, who only recorded 48 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards in ‘09. But as a lead-blocker, Richardson paved the way for Thomas Jones’ career-best 1,402 rushing yards and the Jets’ league-leading 172.2 yards per game on the ground.
The return of Richardson will no doubt aid the progression of Shonn Greene and could help revitalize Tomlinson in ‘10.
Jay putting out Feel-ers around league
Coming off his most successful season in the green and white, is it possible that Jay Feely could be getting his kicks elsewhere in 2010? All of a sudden, that seems like a very real possibility. According to FOXSports.com, Feely is scheduled to visit with the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.
Arizona is in the market for a kicker after opting to not resign veteran Neil Rackers. Rackers, a 2005 Pro Bowler, connected on 94 percent of his field goal attempts during the ‘09 regular season but struggled in the playoffs, misfiring on two of his three attempts.
Thursday, Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger floated the idea of the Jets bringing in Rackers if Feely were to bolt for Arizona.
Bottomline, the Jets need to get this kicking situation sorted out ASAP. The Jets are a veteran team with Super Bowl aspirations. They cannot afford to go into next season with question marks in the kicking game. Nick Folk, currently the only kicker on the Jets’ roster is way too much of a gamble and can’t be trusted to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2007.
Feely has expressed he would prefer to remain a Jet and has proven he can kick in the Meadowlands and in the clutch. Bringing back the 33-year-old veteran is the smart decision.
The Jets announced on Thursday that safety Eric Smith had signed his one-year tender offer from the team. The deal, worth $1.176 million adds some more depth to the safety position. Smith is expected to compete for the starting free safety position with the newly acquired Brodney Pool and James Ihedigbo.
Smith was one of the real pleasant surprises of last season, registering 48 tackles and an interception. When starter Kerry Rhodes was benched by Rex Ryan during Week 12, Smith stepped up in a big way, recording 8 solo tackles against Carolina.
Draft Prospect of the Week: Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State
Earlier this week, DraftInsider’s own Tony Pauline reported that the Jets plan to bring in Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews for pre-draft visit.
The six-foot, 218 pound Matthews has been skyrocketing up the draft boards of late and is considered by many to be the number-two running back in the entire draft. Matthews is a strong, natural runner who has shown a powerful ability to burst through the hole and an uncanny knack for making defenders miss. Matthews may lack top-notch speed, but makes up for it with unbelievable quickness and ability to change direction.
With the status of Leon Washington up in the air, Matthews could serve as a more than capable third back behind Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, with the potential to eventually develop into a starter.
One of the stranger events of this offseason transpired earlier this week when it was announced that the Giants had won a coin-flip with the Jets to determine which team would host the first regular season home game at the new Meadowlands stadium.
According to various media outlets, the Jets were informed Monday afternoon that they had indeed lost a “secret” coin-toss which was held at the NFL’s league office. As the story developed throughout the day, the NFL released an official statement, stating that the Giants and Jets would both play at home on the opening weekend of the season.
The Giants will open up their regular season at the stadium on the Sunday afternoon of September 12 , while the Jets will play at home the following night, on Monday Night Football. Additionally, the Jets will host the first preseason game at the new stadium in August.
Later Monday night, Jets owner Woody Johnson released a statement criticizing the NFL’s handling of the coin-toss situation.
“An NFL coin toss has a few fundamental elements that are missing here, most notably the presence of the teams involved. That’s how it’s always done in the League, whether it’s determining the order of the draft or deciding who’s going to kick off the game.
“When the issue of which team would be hosting the first regular season game could not be resolved on the merits, I suggested a coin toss as the fairest way to resolve this issue. The League rejected that idea.
“Then, I was told on Friday that a coin toss had taken place at the League office and that the Jets had lost. We rejected a process in which neither team was present. The League departed from our time-honored tradition and declined the opportunity to set the matter straight with a transparent process.”