Rumor Roundup: March 25

March 25th, 2010

The Jets will be on centerstage in August as HBO's 'Hard Knock' series is set to cover training camp in Cortland. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Back to work

The New York Jets returned to Florham Park, New Jersey earlier this week, kicking off voluntary offseason workouts at the team’s practice facility.

Present for the first day of workouts were restricted free agent receivers Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, both coming to an agreement on one-year tenders.   Conspicuously absent however was free agent running back Leon Washington.

Earlier this week, Washington’s agent Alvin Keels tweeted that the fifth-year veteran will not sign his tender at this time and will continue to rehab as he weighs his options.   Keels also added that Washington’s leg is progressing well and the 27-year-old is expected to be cleared to participate in running drills in the next two weeks.

The reason behind Washington’s reluctance to sign his tender is uncertain at this time.  At the beginning of the offseason, there was a strong belief throughout the Jets’ organization that Washington would definitely be back in 2010.  Now things appear that they are 50-50.

Perhaps Washington isn’t willing to accept the role of third-down back behind Shonn Greene and the newly acquired veteran LaDainian Tomlinson?  There are also strong indications that Washington is still miffed over his second-round tender and feels disrespected by the organization.

According to The Star-Ledger’s Manish Mehta, Jets head coach Rex Ryan told reporters Thursday that Washington stopped working out at the team’s facility after he was given the second-round tender.  Ryan also indicated that he is disappointed by Washington’s decision.

“This is a voluntary deal,” Ryan said Thursday. “He may have reasons for not being here.  But the rest of the team volunteered to be here… We would love to get Leon back.”

“We (have) the No. 1 facilities in the country,”said Ryan.  “We have a great medical staff.  We have a great medical team.  We got the best strength coach in the country.  Leon knows this.  That’s what’s disappointing.  Wherever he’s at might be good, but it’s not the best.  I want what’s best for him and for the New York Jets.  This is a time when there’s team building.  I love Leon, but it’s still disappointing that he’s not here.”

Restricted free agent safety James Ihedigbo, also signed his tender and was present for the first day of workouts at the facility, per a report by Newsday’s Rod Boone..

Laury added to special teams unit

Late last week, the Jets agreed to terms with free agent linebacker and special teams standout Lance Laury, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks.   Laury, who served as a special teams captain in Seattle, registered 21 tackles and a forced fumble in 2009.

The 28-year-old Laury was brought in to aid a special teams unit which lost several of its key performers this offseason.   Veteran Larry Izzo is likely to retire following a spinal injury, while Wallace Wright (Panthers) and Marques Murrell (Patriots) both signed on with other teams.

The 6-foot-2, 237 pound Laury signed with the Seahawks in 2006 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of South Carolina.   In four NFL seasons, he has compiled 64 career tackles and two forced fumbles.

It’s the hard knock life for us…

Thursday, the Jets officially announced that the team would be participating in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, which will chronicle the team’s 2010 training camp in Cortland.

HBO will enlist a a 24-person camera crew live at Jet’s camp to shoot over 1,000 hours of film for the series.  Camera and sound crews will be given full-access to practice fields, dormitories, training rooms, and team meetings.

“We are committed to being an organization that is open and accessible,” said Jets owner Woody Johnson.  “Hard Knocks  serves as a tremendous vehicle for fans everywhere to receive unprecedented access and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look as we prepare for the 2010 season.  HBO and NFL Films have an award-winning track record and we are excited about working with them.”

“We are delighted that ‘Hard Knocks’ will be returning this summer and placing the spotlight on charismatic Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his engaging team of proven veterans and emerging stars,” said HBO Sports president, Ross Greenburg, in a released statement.

“As always, there will be plenty on the line for veterans, free agents and rookies alike during training camp.  After last year’s postseason run, this is certainly a championship-caliber team with big-name talent.  Get ready for some of Coach Ryan’s ‘blunt force trauma’ behind the scenes with this staff and this talent.”

“Hard Knocks has successfully traveled the country over the last several years,” said NFL Films president Steve Sabol.  “There have been shows in Dallas, Baltimore, Kansas City and Cincinnati.  Now we’ve got our act together – we’re finally ready to open on Broadway!”

Past “Hard Knocks” series have documented the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2002 and 2008 Dallas Cowboys, 2007 Kansas City Chiefs, and 2009 Cincinnati Bengals.

The hour-long, weekly series will debut Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.  The series will air on subsequent Wednesdays, concluding with a fifth and final episode on Sept. 8.

Rumor Roundup: March 19

March 19th, 2010

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

The Jets brought back veteran FB Tony Richardson this week. Are they ready to do the same with K Jay Feely? (JetsInsider.com Photo)

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.

Smith returning

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.

Coin flip-gate

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.”

Can’t we all just get along?

Rumor Roundup: March 11

March 12th, 2010

Pool-party in Florham

Last weekend’s trade of Kerry Rhodes to Arizona left the Jets with a gaping hole  at the free safety position.  Thursday, New York filled that void in the secondary, coming to terms with former Cleveland Browns safety Brodney Pool on a one-year, $1.3 million deal.

The five-year veteran was originally a restricted free-agent but was not tendered by Cleveland, allowing the Jets to sign him without sending compensation back to the Browns.

In 11 games in ‘09, Pool posted 50 tackles, 1 sack and 4 interceptions–stats more than comparable to his predecessor, Rhodes, who posted just 63 tackles, 3 interceptions and no sacks in 16 games.

Pool has proven that he can produce on the field when given playing time.   But the real question revolves around whether the former second-round pick can stay on the field.   The 25-year-old Pool has suffered four concussions in his five-year career.

His latest concussion, coming in Week 12 of the ‘09 season put Pool’s career in serious jeopardy.   However, in February , Pool was given a clean-bill of health and cleared to play for the 2010 season.

The signing of Pool is a low-risk, high-reward move for New York, who will ideally start Pool opposite strong safety Jim Leonhard in the secondary.

Tomlinson to meet with Jets Friday

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Rich Cimini of the Daily News, future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson is headed to Florham  to meet with the Jets brass on Friday.

The 30-year-old Tomlinson met with the Minnesota Vikings from Wednesday to Thursday but left without a contract.   Tomlinson is coming off a season in which he rushed for a career-low, 790 yards.

The ten-year veteran has seen his production tail-off considerably since his MVP season in 2006, in which he rushed for a career-best 1,815 yards with 28 TD.

Tomlinson clearly is no longer capable of being an every-down, feature back in the league but could flourish in the reduced role the Jets could offer him.   With Shonn Greene expected to be the featured back in 2010 and the future of Leon Washington currently uncertain, Tomlinson would fill the veteran void left by the departure of Thomas Jones.

Earlier this week, Jones agreed to a 2-year, $5 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Leon Update

Speaking of running backs…earlier this week, PFT reported that the San Fransisco 49ers have spoken with Leon Washington.  It is expected that Washington will garner up interest from a few other teams around the league, but many are scared off by his season-ending leg injury.

Whether Leon Washington will be back with Gang Green in '10 remains to be seen. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

By only tendering Washington at the second-round level, the Jets have seemingly invited teams to make a run at their young, dynamic back.   It is believed that the organization wants him back next season, but whether or not that will happen is uncertain at this point.

The 27-year-old  Washington rushed for 331 yards in ‘09 before breaking his leg during a Week 7 win in Oakland.

Alston pays Jets a visit

Oakland Raiders LB Jon Alston visited with the Jets on Thursday, according to Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger. Alston, a four-year veteran, started four games for Oakland in ‘09.   He posted 23 tackles in nine games before having his season cut short due to concussions.

Alston would be brought in as a backup linebacker, likely seeing most of his time on special teams.   Earlier this week, the Jets lost one of their top special teams performers from last season, Wallace Wright, who signed on with the Carolina Panthers.

Hartsock coming back

Earlier this week, the team announced the re-signing of tight end Ben Hartsock, to a two-year, $3.2 million deal.   Hartsock was key component of the Jets’ league-leading rushing attack in 2009, as he was predominantly used as an extra blocker at the tight end position.

The 29-year-old Hartsock was originally signed by the Jets in September of 2009.

Draft Prospect of the Week:  Earl Thomas, Safety, University of Texas

The 2010 draft boasts one of the strongest safety classes in recent memory and the New York Jets ought to take advantage.   Thomas is a physical defender who excels in coverage.   While the 5-foot-10, 210 pound Thomas may be a bit undersized to play the safety position at the pro level, he makes up for his lack of size with his aggressive style of play.

Thomas proved he is a playmaker at the college level, setting a Texas record with eight interceptions in ‘09.  Whether his style of play will translate to the NFL remains to be seen, but it is clear that Thomas has the skill-set and tools to be a potential force in the secondary for years to come.   Thomas would be a great fit for a Jet team, which finds itself relatively thin at the free safety, following the departure of Kerry Rhodes and the injury history of Brodney Pool.

Jets acquire Cromartie from San Diego

March 5th, 2010

The Jets didn’t waste much time finding Lito Sheppard’s replacement. Late Thursday night, the team agreed to send a 2011 third-round draft pick to the San Diego Chargers for former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The pick could escalate to a second rounder, based on how Cromartie performs in 2010.

Cromartie, who has a lot of talent but has a reputation of having attitude problems,  joins a talented Jets defense that had a hole at CB opposite Darrelle Revis. The 6′2″, 211 lb player was formerly a first round pick of the Chargers in 2006 after playing for Florida State. He made the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro in 2007.

Stick with JetsInsider.com for the latest breaking news and free agency updates.

Rumor Roundup: March 4

March 4th, 2010

We hardly had time to miss ya!

Could Thomas Jones be back in a Jet uniform next season,  after all?

PFT’s Mike Florio, citing “a league source” reported earlier today that the Jets will attempt to re-sign Thomas Jones.   The 31-year-old Jones was officially released Friday after refusing to renegotiate his contract which included a $2.8 million roster bonus.

Which begs the obvious question: Why on earth would Jones agree to come back for less money after refusing to restructure his contract in the first place?

Perhaps the market for Jones is indeed not as strong as he anticipated?  We shall see.    It will certainly be interesting to see how this situation develops, with the free agent period officially kicking off just after midnight tonight.

Marshall Plan in works?

With the Broncos only giving star-studded receiver Brandon Marshall a first-round tender, Denver has sent a strong message to the rest of the league:  Come take this problem off our hands!

There aren’t many 6-foot-4, 230 pound receivers in their prime on the market, so it can be expected that Denver GM Brian Xanders will be fielding a number of calls regarding the troubled receiver in the coming days.   Could Mike Tannenbaum be one of those suitors?

If you recall, back in August, the Jets had expressed a strong interest in acquiring the 25-year old Marshall but rebuffed after Denver asked for LB David Harris in return.   Six months later, the Jets still find themselves in search of an elite vertical weapon to complement their powerful running game.

With the long-term future of Braylon Edwards up in the air and the asking price for Marshall (1st round pick) exponentially lower than what it was last August, look for the Jets to make another strong play for “The Beast”.   Getting Marshall, a receiver who is leaps and bounds above any of the receivers in this year’s draft pool, for a late-round first would be the ultimate highway robbery for Gang Green.

Could the Jets be a potential suitor for Brandon Marshall?

Marshall, who hauled in 101 balls for 1,120 yards and 10 TD last year, would give QB Mark Sanchez the big-time receiver he lacks.   With Marshall and Edwards on the outside, and Jerricho Cotchery at his more natural slot position, the Jets would suddenly have one of the most formidable aerial attacks in the NFL.

But would Marshall be on his best behavior in New York?  Could Rex Ryan handle the troubled receiver?   Ok, maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here….

Raven Reunion?

Jets LB Bart Scott appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” earlier this week and revealed that his former Baltimore teammate, Patriots LB Adalius Thomas, is interested in reuniting with Rex Ryan in New York.

“It’s funny,” said Scott. “I was hanging with Adalius Thomas for Super Bowl week. We’re buddies from back in the day. He’s made it public that he’s interested in joining Rex. I think some of his better years of his career have been as part of the Ravens’ defense under Rex’s tutelage. It would be exciting.”

The 32-year-old Thomas is all but on his way out of New England, and is expected to be released this week.  Thomas would not be considered a free agent and could theoretically be picked up by New York.   But would the Jets want him?

Thomas has seen his production tail-off substantially the past three seasons, only posting 34 tackles in 2009.   He is clearly no longer the feared QB bounty hunter he was in Baltimore, but could possibly serve as a situational pass rusher and a possible mentor to Vernon Gholston.

The official tenders
Here are the Jets official restricted free agent tenders,  as reported by Rich Cimini of The Daily News:
WR Braylon Edwards – First and Third Round Level
RB Leon Washington and WR Brad Smith – Second Round Level
QB Kellen Clemens, S Eric Smith, OT Wayne Hunter – Third Round Level
CB Drew Coleman – Sixth Round Level
S James Ihedigbo – Undrafted, $1.101 million tender
WR Wallace Wright, LB Marques Murrell, and DT Howard Green were not tendered, meaning that the Jets will not receive any compensation if they are signed by another team.
Draft Prospect of the Week: Taylor Mays, Safety, USC
With the impending future of safety Kerry Rhodes in question, safety could become a position of need for the Jets this offseason.  The 6-foot-3, 230 pound Mays has the potential to be a star in the right NFL system.   Mays has the ultimate blend of size and speed, possessing the ability to run like the wind and hit like a Mack Truck.   It is unclear where exactly Mays will fall on draft day, with reports of his stock fluctuating between the top 10 and mid-to-late first round.   Chances are that the Jets would need to trade up for this athletic freak, but it would be a gamble worth taking.   Scouts say Mays could end-up playing  outside linebacker at the pro level, specializing as a speed-rusher, another area of need for this Jets squad.

Sheppard a goner too

March 1st, 2010

According to multiple media outlets, the Jets will release veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard on Friday.

The nine-year veteran was slated to receive a $10 million option bonus, next week. Sheppard, who was acquired via trade last February, struggled through injuries during his only season in New York. The two-time Pro Bowler started nine games, recording 25 tackles and one interception.

Lito Sheppard will join Thomas Jones on the unemployment line Friday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)


Sheppard was notably benched during the team’s final game of the season in Indianapolis in favor of Dwight Lowery, who was picked-on all day by Peyton Manning, in-turn ending the Jets’ playoff run.

Jets release statement regarding Jones, will release veteran Friday

March 1st, 2010

The New York Jets issued an official statement on Monday, confirming the imminent release of veteran running back Thomas Jones.   The team will sever ties with the 11-year veteran on Friday, the first official day of the NFL’s free agency period

Jones had his finest season as a pro in 2009, rushing for a career-best 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns, but was due a $3.3 million roster bonus this month. The team’s plans to offer long-term extensions to center Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis this offseason, combined with the youth of running backs Shonn Greene and Leon Washington, made the 31-year-old Jones the odd man out.

The Jets will officially cut veteran Thomas Jones on Friday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“Thomas joined us three years ago and has been a productive, passionate leader both on and off the field who has served as a positive influence for our younger players,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum. “We were fortunate to acquire Thomas and wish him the best.”

“When I got here Thomas immediately became one of my guys,” head coach Rex Ryan said.    “He had one of his best years last season – might have been his best. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and a person. As I said the other day, this is one of the tough decisions we had to make for our organization.”

Rumor Roundup: Feb. 25

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?

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

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.