Why do we think that Tannenbaum is such an "expert" when it comes to contracts?
Serious question here: If not for the media's constant refrain that Tanny is, in fact, a salary-cap genius, would we have any reason to think that he's particularly good at managing a salary cap?
From what I can see, he realized that the Jets had a lot of cap room going in to the 2008 and 2009 seasons because Brick, Revis, Harris and Mangold were on their rookie contracts, and he spent that cap room on normal contracts on good players. Then, he realized that players in the final year of their rookie contracts are going to cost a lot less, so he traded for Holmes, Braylon, and Cro. Terrific. None of that seems particularly advanced to me.
Anyone who can read critically and wants to take a few hours out of their day can understand most of the salary-cap rules of the NFL. The main thing people seem to say that Tanny does well is that he staggers his contracts to space out when players get paid large amounts of money, but that's clearly not the case. The Jets are in cap hell next season because of all these deferred payments. I don't think it takes a cap genius to realize that payments can be deferred to free up money in the short-term.
Finally, some in the media and on this board are acting like Tanny's contractual wisdom would be somehow irreplaceable. But look at the best run teams in the NFL: the Giants, Packers, Ravens, Steelers, Falcons, and 49ers are all run by "football guys," who either played the game, or started scouting immediately after college, or did both. And guess what? The contracts for all of those teams get done and they work under the salary cap. Each of those teams has a whole bunch of "contract gurus" who do exactly what Mike Tannenbaum is supposed to be good at. Anyone with a background in law or accounting can master the salary cap as well as Tanny can, and there's no reason to limit our GM search because we desperately want to retain Tanny's contract "expertise."