New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said Sunday his team would have interest in Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, either by trade or if Jackson were to be released.
Amid wide speculation about Jackson's future with the Eagles that has swirled in recent weeks, Johnson was asked if his team would be interested in the wide receiver.
Owner Woody Johnson has become impatient with being patient, meaning it's playoff-or-bust for the Jets, "We're looking at a number of players, including DeSean," Johnson said. "He's a very good player. We're looking at a number of them. Trade's not our primary operating motif right now. We're trying to build through the draft. Building through the draft is something that is the way to build a successful team long-term."
Johnson was then asked if the Jets would have interest if the Eagles released Jackson.
"We're always interested in talent," Johnson said. "If it's somebody that fits into our locker room and understands that he can fit into our culture at a price we can afford, that we feel is appropriate, then we'd do it."
While it is rare for a team official, especially a team owner, to publicly comment on a player who is currently under contract with another team, Johnson made his comments at the site of the league meetings, which formally open Monday morning.
Technically, by the letter of the rule, Johnson's comments could be considered tampering. Reports of the Eagles' willingness to trade Jackson have circulated even before the opening of free agency earlier this month.
Jackson is set to earn $10.5 million in salary in 2014 and is set to count $12.5 million against the salary cap. Any team which acquired Jackson in a trade would have to honor the contract upon his arrival and would need the salary cap room to accept the deal before a re-negotiation could take place.
The 27-year-old Jackson has averaged 17.2 yards per catch in his career and has had seven career 150-yard receiving games. He signed a five-year, $47 million extension with the Eagles in 2012.
1. Waiting on DeSean: If the Jets want wide receiver DeSean Jackson, they have the resources to be a major player. They have the need, the cap space (more than $30 million) and the right recruiter (Michael Vick). The question is, do they have the desire ? Do the positives outweigh the negatives for a marriage between the Jets and receiver DeSean Jackson?The sense I get from talking to league sources is the Jets have a measured interest in Jackson, which will intensify if he's released by the Philadelphia Eagles -- a distinct possibility if no one is willing to trade for his contract. He has three years, $30 million remaining on the deal. He reportedly is unwilling to renegotiate his deal, which makes a trade less likely. Jackson may not be motivated to re-work the deal because he knows it will force his release, allowing him to reunite with Vick. It's possible that Vick picked the Jets, knowing his former teammate wouldn't be far behind. Could this all be part of John Idzik's master plan ?
Frankly, I think it would be out of character for Idzik. Jackson is a problem child, the ultimate risk-reward gambit. The mere fact Chip Kelly is holding a fire sale for his best receiver should tell you something about how badly he wants to rid himself of Jackson. This is Santonio Holmes revisited. The talent makes the player oh-so-tempting, but is he worth the aggravation? Even if Jackson's market dries up and he accepts a team-friendly deal, he'd be complaining next offseason about wanting a new contract. He's a headache waiting to happen, but the Jets appear willing to stock up on aspirin.
2. The Marty factor: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg knows Jackson better than anyone in the Jets' building, having coached him in Philly, but I wonder about that relationship. In May, 2010, Jackson told the Sporting News, "Our offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, said some things, trying to question my toughness" -- a reference to a 2009 game in which he sat out with a head injury. "I was like, 'Coach, I just got a concussion. This (is) my brain. If it's something else -- my shoulder, whatever -- I'm going to play.'" Based on the quote, it doesn't sound like they're the best of buds.
By the way, Jackson suffered two concussions in 2009 and 2010, including a severe concussion that resulted in memory loss -- another factor the Jets should consider.
3. 3-21: So on the two-year anniversary of the Tim Tebow trade, Mark Sanchez gets cut, Greg McElroy announces his retirement and Vick joins the team. That has to be cosmos, right?
4. Polarizing player: Opinions on the Vick signing are sharply divided among fans and media, which isn't a surprise. I happen to think it's a good deal, but I spoke to one longtime front-office executive who believes Vick, 33, is washed up. "The Jets already have a guy like him ," said the executive, referring to Geno Smith. "If you bring Vick in, you're not thinking. It makes no sense. He's a good kid. He's more mature, he's not a distraction and the players respect him, but he doesn't bring anything to the table anymore -- nothing. He can't win with his legs anymore, he has to win with his head. His arm is good enough, but unfortunately, the arm isn't connected to the head." An AFC personnel scout said of the Vick-for-Sanchez move: "I don't know what to think, to be honest. You swap one out for the other. There's still no long-term solution."
5. Penalty pals, revisited: Based on their track records, the Willie Colon-Breno Giacomini tandem on the right side of the offensive line will produce a lot of penalty flags. Colon was penalized a team-high 12 times for 82 yards last season. Giacomini, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, was flagged six times for 39 yards -- in only nine games, mind you. (In addition, he had two holding calls in the postseason.) In 2011 and 2012, he combined for 21 penalties for 172 yards. Unless they change their ways, Colon and Giacomini will invite comparisons to the original Penalty Pals, Jeff Criswell and Dave Cadigan, circa 1993.
6. Keeping their own: Penalties notwithstanding, the Jets made a good move to re-sign Colon, who received a one-year, $2 million contract. Only $500,000 is guaranteed; he can also earn $1 million in base salary, plus another $500,000 in roster bonuses if he plays every game. They gave a similar deal to linebacker Calvin Pace, who can make $2.625 million in the first year of a two-year, $5 million contract.
All told, the Jets retained seven free agents for a combined total of only $5.255 million in guarantees -- Pace, Colon, Nick Folk, Jeff Cumberland, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Leger Douzable. That's what you call bargain shopping.
7. John the Rigid: The biggest criticism of Idzik, according to some agents and league insiders, is that he shows little or no flexibility in negotiations. He assigns a monetary value to a player and refuses to adjust, they say. That style may help in certain situations, but there are times when you have to examine the big picture and ask yourself, "Do we really want to lose this player over X amount of money?" Idzik's conservative approach probably cost him cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the New York Giants. So now they have a gaping hole at the position. Barring a trade, or a veteran unexpectedly shaking free, the Jets will have to rely on the draft.
8. Bad things come in threes: In a span of 12 days, Idzik jettisoned three of the cornerstone players from the last playoff team, cutting Sanchez, Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. That's a stunning player dump, considering they're all 30 or under. The downside is the amount of "dead" money on the cap. The three players are counting $12.78 million, nearly 10 percent of the entire salary cap.
9. Small-school sleeper: Remember this name -- Terrence Fede. The former Marist defensive end is trying to become the first player in his school's history to be drafted. The 6-foot-3, 276 pounder was a stud pass rusher as the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., school, recording 30.5 career sacks. He has an impressive burst on the edge. He performed for scouts recently at the University of Buffalo pro day, clocking a 4.79 in the 40. All 32 teams were in attendance, including Jets scout Cole Hufnagel. Even if he's not drafted, Fede will be a priority free agent.
10. The Jets' new dogma: Everybody knows about Vick's sordid history with dog fighting, a crime that resulted in him spending nearly two years in a federal prison. Well, here's something interesting and ironic: One of his new receivers is a dog lover. Eric Decker has a foundation called "Decker's Dogs," which provides service dogs to returning military vets with disabilities. Decker and his wife, Jessica, raise money to help train rescued dogs. They believe rescued dogs have the same success rate as dogs bred for service.
Mark Sanchez disappointed with his performances throughout his five seasons with the New York Jets.
The New York Jets released Mark Sanchez late on Friday, almost two weeks into free agency, after most every team in need of quarterbacks had already signed or traded for one. They released him soon after Oakland acquired Matt Schaub, after the Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, at the same time the Jets themselves inked Michael Vick.
How appropriate. Even at the end, the Jets did little to help Sanchez, once the face of their franchise known as Sanchize, later the Buttfumble of so many NFL jokes.
It's not that that Jets wanted Sanchez to fail. It's just that it sometimes seemed that way.
I covered the Jets back in the beginning, back in 2009 when Gang Green traded for the fifth pick in the draft. They selected Sanchez, signed him to richest contract in team history and gingerly placed him into a locker room filled with veterans, alongside Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca and Tony Richardson and Jerricho Cotchery.
Sanchez did not regress in recent seasons so much as he struggled throughout. He threw 20 interceptions as a rookie. His completion percentage never climbed above 56.7. His worst performances were epic disasters, blunder clinics, turnover parades.
What Sanchez proved in his first two seasons was that in the right offense, surrounded by the right players, backed by a stout defense, he could win games. Or at least not lose too many them. He took the Jets to the AFC Championship game in his first two seasons. He beat Peyton Manning in the playoffs.
Coach Rex Ryan loved the story about how the Jets interviewed Sanchez in Los Angeles and how after dinner they said goodbye and Sanchez hopped on a motorcycle -- a joke that showed his moxie, his charm. Those were the days. Ryan tattooed a picture of his wife on his right arm, clad in only a Sanchez No. 6 Jets' jersey, linked by ink then to his franchise star.
The rest of the Sanchez-Jets era unfolded in comical failure. Sanchez proved a mediocre quarterback at times, a bad quarterback at others. But the thread that connects 2011 to 2014 is that the Jets did not help Sanchez, did not give him even the slightest chance to succeed. They made an average quarterback worse.
At first, the Jets coddled Sanchez. They gave him a personal assistant during his rookie season and forbade one-on-one interviews. They delivered criticism lightly. They limited both the playbook and his development.
The talent purge came next. Gone were some of the linemen who protected Sanchez, the backs he handed off to, the experience he relied on. He needed to win games instead of not lose them. The Jets signed Santonio Holmes to a massive contract, but instead of a No. 1 receiver, they got a No. 1 headache. They used most of their top draft picks on defensive players. They tried to land Manning. They did land Tim Tebow and the circus that accompanied him to New York.
So much of that made so little sense. Sanchez was one of the Jets' least mature, most sensitive players, and to boost his confidence they let key offensive players walk and chased after other quarterbacks. If the thought was that competition would make Sanchez better, would force him to raise his play, it had the opposite effect. Besides, who was he supposed to throw to?
The rest of the Sanchez era played out like a serial drama: the illicit hotdog consumed on the sideline, the 17-year-old he allegedly dated, the GQ cover, the TMZ interviews and finally, sadly, infamously, that Thanksgiving night in 2012 when Sanchez ran smack into his lineman's butt and fumbled against the Patriots, a play that will live forever on NFL blooper reels.
Late Friday, I sent a text message to my buddy Joe, the biggest Jets fan I know. What did he make of Sanchez's tenure? "Overall it sums up the history of being a Jets fan," he wrote back. "The second, and I mean the very second, you buy in, the rug gets pulled out from under you."
Now, Sanchez is looking for work. The Jets are still looking for their first Super Bowl quarterback since Joe Freaking Namath, and the next candidates are Vick and Geno Smith. Ryan should be looking for another tattoo to cover up the other old one.
All of this of course is the most Jets-like development ever. (Insert Buttfumble joke here.)
The Jets cut Mark Sanchez last Friday, just hours after Rex Ryan said it was possible the team would keep him. (Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
As the month wound down and the Jets started running out of time to cut Mark Sanchez and save $8.3 million on their salary cap, somehow Rex Ryan equivocated about Sanchez’s chance of remaining with the team.
Right down to the very end.
Friday, 3:27 p.m.
“That could happen. That’s still a possibility.”
— Ryan, on the chances of Sanchez remaining a Jet, to ESPN Radio in New York.
Friday, 6:32 p.m.
“It’s official. We’ve signed QB Michael Vick.”
— @nyjets, the team’s official Twitter feed.
Friday, 6:48 p.m.
“I’d like to thank Mark for everything he’s done for this team and me personally.”
— Ryan, in a team-issued statement announcing the release of Sanchez.
The Jets cut Mark Sanchez last Friday, just hours after Rex Ryan said it was possible the team would keep him. (Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
~ ~ 5. I think you can talk about Mark Sanchez getting jobbed by the Jets if you’d like, and I agree that holding him off the market for the first 11 days of free agency because the Jets wanted an insurance policy in case they couldn’t sign Mike Vick was wrong—because the team never had any intention of paying Sanchez his March roster bonus. But for those who say the Jets should have kept Sanchez, I’d cite two important factors: The team had lost faith in his ability to be its long-term answer at quarterback, and he completed just 55.1% of his throws as a Jet. Though he was a solid player his first two seasons and showed signs of that play before getting hurt last summer, Sanchez just isn’t accurate enough for a team to count on him as its answer at the position.
6. I think you’d have a fair argument if you said, “Mike Vick’s not accurate either.” He is just a 56.2% passer for his career, but in his three Philadelphia seasons with Marty Mornhinweg—who will be his play-caller and instructor with the Jets—Vick’s accuracy rate was 63%, 60% and 58%. And Vick is hardly being imported to be the quarterback savior in New York. He is signed for one year and $5 million, and the team still thinks Geno Smith could be the man of the future.
~ ~ Seahawks have “no interest at all” in DeSean Jackson
Amid a report that the Seahawks have expressed interest in Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, a source with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking tells PFT that the Seahawks have “no interest at all” in Jackson.
The Seahawks are one of several teams that have been linked to Jackson. The 49ers have denied a report that they have interest in Jackson. Jets owner Woody Johnson has said that his team is interested.
It never made sense for the Seahawks to be interested in Jackson, given the financial commitment already made to receiver Percy Harvin, and the looming necessity of paying cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Teams removing themselves from Jackson trade talks
Scratch one more city off DeSean Jackson’s list of new teams and another from the group of trade partners for the dynamic Eagles receiver.
ProFootballTalk reports, via a source, that the reigning Super Bowl champs in Seattle have “no interest at all” in Jackson. Meanwhile, NFL Network reported Monday morning that Oakland is “not inclined” to trade for Jackson because they don’t want to give up any draft picks.
The Seahawks were one of the teams linked to Jackson along with the Raiders, Panthers, Niners and Jets. The 49ers have publicly denied interest in Jackson. Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters last night that his team is interested, but that New York is focusing on the draft — code for not giving up draft picks.
The list of Philadelphia’s trade partners for Jackson seems to be dwindling. No one seems willing to give up a third-round (or any) pick, while also paying Jackson $10.7 million for the 2014 season. With rumors flying over the last three weeks that the Eagles will cut Jackson even if they can’t trade him, Philadelphia’s front office resolve in this matter might be tested soon enough.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
While we get that teams might decline interest in trading for Jackson, one can assume that all bets are off should Jackson get released. Seattle’s entire disinterest is probably genuine. The team committed $67 million to Percy Harvin a year ago and there are negotiations coming soon with QB Russell Wilson and their star defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.
The Raiders and Jets have more cap space in 2014 with which to pay Jackson than the Niners or Panthers. Even if the Jets are interested, John Idzik hasn’t demonstrated a willingness to pay more than his competition, so even if Jackson makes it to free agency, don’t expect a reunion with Mornhinweg and Vick as a sure thing.
Should the Eagles release Jackson, expect the receiver to go wherever he gets the most money. While it could happen, don’t expect the Jets to be the team to pay Jackson the most.
Team CEO Woody Johnson met with a small group of reporters today at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, FL and repeated a message GM John Idzik has preached for more than a year.
“We’re always looking to make the team better. It’s not like we’re not looking at every single player that’s available — we are,” said Johnson, who referenced the Jets re-signing of seven players in addition to the market acquisitions of WR Eric Decker and RT Breno Giacomini. “We’re trying to make decisions that help the team — help the team now and down the road. So I think we’ve done a good job in that. We’ve been disciplined. We know what we’re looking for. Sustainable success. That’s what we want.”
Idzik has set himself up with financial flexibility as OvertheCap.com has the Jets currently $34 million under the salary cap. And then following free agency, the Green & White could have as many as 12 draft picks in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. While Decker should give the offense a boost, Johnson was asked if his club would have interest in trading for Eagles weapon Desean Jackson.
“We are looking at a number of players, including DeSean. He’s a very good player and we’re looking at a number of them,” he said. “A trade is not our primary operating motif right now. We’re trying to build through the draft. Building through the draft is the way to build a successful team long-term.”
The Jets started the weekend with a pair of moves at the quarterback position as veteran Michael Vick was brought in to push Geno Smith.
“We have a lot of hope for Geno. Geno started last year and had a few little injuries at training camp that slowed him down,” Johnson said. “But the coaches are confident in him more importantly. He has a demeanor and an attitude. He was very welcoming of Michael Vick. I thought that was great like, ‘You couldn’t get anybody better to back me up.’ I’m sure Vick probably feels the same way in reverse.”
After five seasons with the Jets, Mark Sanchez was released Friday. Johnson was thankful today for his contributions as the Jets advanced to two AFC Championship tilts with Sanchez at the offensive controls.
“We really appreciate what Mark did,” he said. “We had two extremely exciting years with Mark. Mark was always a positive influence on the team, a great person. I respect him and his family. Just appreciate everything he did for us.”
Since Vick experienced a lot of success with current Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia, a lot of people speculated that a reunion in New York would be a good fit.
“That was a name that right at the beginning looked like it was a possibility. We’re trying to make the team better,” Johnson said. “I don’t really hold any emotional feelings other than I want to serve the fans and give them a winning team. I want to do that on a sustainable basis and make good decisions.”
All the NFL coaches but one posed for a group photo. One guess who didn't ? ? ? ?
All the NFL coaches but one posed for a group photo. One guess who didn't.
At the annual NFL owners meetings, currently taking place in Orlando, Fla., every current NFL head coach gathered for one big class photo. Well, all but one.
Take a guess who skipped out.
The full photo, via Mark Dalton of the Arizona Cardinals, is above; there will be a higher-resolution copy coming soon, obviously. But already, we can make a few observations:
There was no dress code whatsoever. Some guys looked like they came in off the golf course, some looked like they were ready for a formal dinner. Jim Harbaugh isn't wearing a Sharpie around his neck, but he is rocking the khakis, of course. And Andy Reid looks like he wrapped himself in grandma's drapes.
Could these guys look any more uncomfortable? Seeing them without a headset and a sneer is strange. They don't know what to do with themselves. (Pete Carroll in the front right is a notably chill exception, but then you'd expect that.) Hands on knees or lap? In front or behind? Who cares? Can we just get this done so we can go watch film, huh?
About half of these guys, 14 of 31, weren't with their current team just two years ago. This is not a profession for those interested in longevity.
Oh, and the missing coach? One hint: he'd have shown up wearing a hoodie. Oh, and his name rhymes with "Dill Delichick." Of course.