~ ~ ~ The New York Jets made the NFL's first meaningful post-July 1 roster tweak Thursday, signing six-year veteran tight end Mikhael Ricks, a converted wide receiver who still runs well and should add a new dimension to the mid-field passing game. His signing won't signal an opening of the flood gates, not with the paucity of serviceable players among the free agent remnant pile, but should result in at least a modest ripple effect.
When personnel directors and general managers return from vacations next week, the market should pick up enough to at least register a blip on the radar screen, as teams make one final sweep through the free agent bargain basement. It is a group, no denying, that is mostly threadbare, but with a few veterans worthy of consideration as clubs try to improve their depth or fill out a last, remaining roster hole."You know that old saying about how one man's trash is another man's treasure?" noted one AFC general manager. "Well, what's out there right now is pretty much everyone's trash, to be honest. But there might be three or four players, especially if reality has set in and they're ready to take the minimum (salary), who could still find homes. I mean, you would think somebody will sign (linebacker Jason) Gildon, and a few others, right? There are some guys worth plucking off the scrap heap. Just not many, that's all."
~ ~ Here are a few more players who should escape the unemployment line in weeks leading up to training camp:
~ OT Greg Randall (San Francisco): Kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of offensive linemen left in free agency. The guy is only 26 years old, has 39 career starts, has never missed a game because of injury, and was flagged for only three penalties in 16 starts for Houston last season. The 49ers signed him this spring and then dumped him six weeks later. He might be better than any of the three candidates Dallas will trot out for the right tackle job in camp. Not a great player but, for a minimum salary, a good insurance policy.
~ ~ ~ A gaggle of guards: There are a ton of interior offensive linemen still available, with the list including Todd Perry (Miami), Jamie Nails (Miami), Ray Brown (Detroit) and Chris Dishman (Arizona), among others. Also in the mix is longtime Dolphins starting center Tim Ruddy. Many from this group might have to wait for someone to be injured in camp before the phone rings. Ruddy and Perry have generated interest, and could probably have jobs by now, but both will wait for the right circumstance. "They both want to play and, if it happens for them, great," said agent Ralph Cindrich. "But both are conservative guys who have saved their money and neither is going to jump at something just to say they've got a job."
~ ~ Around the league
- ESPN.com reported Thursday that agent Tom Condon of IMG Football kicked off the negotiations for top overall pick Eli Manning by meeting with Giants officials on Tuesday. The second half of the equation: While in "the town so nice they named it twice," Condon, appropriately enough, pulled a little double duty. Condon also huddled, ESPN.com confirmed, with Jets officials about quarterback Chad Pennington, who is entering the final season of his original NFL contract. There is a long way to go, of course, in negotiations for both quarterbacks. That said, there is some sense of urgency. The Giants report to camp on Aug. 29 and obviously want Manning on the field when practices commence the next day. Pennington has indicated he doesn't want contract negotiations to be a distraction -- and, unlike other players who say the same thing, he really means it -- and so the Jets might be facing a deadline of sorts, too. As noted here just a few weeks ago, Pennington could pull in a signing bonus second only to the $34.5 million that Condon negotiated for Peyton Manning four months ago.
- We don't want to overstate the significance of the Jets' addition of tight end Mikhael Ricks because, let's face it, the guy has never caught more than 40 balls in a season. But he does provide New York, and thus Pennington, an interesting dimension. And while he is probably best-suited to playing in two-tight end formations, Ricks might take some playing time away from starter Anthony Becht in obvious passing situations. The reason is that Ricks just simply moves better than most tight ends in the NFL and can get deep up the middle and provide vertical stretch. In six seasons, Ricks has 26 receptions of 20 yards or more and four catches of 40-plus yards, and he has averaged a pretty gaudy 12.5 yards per reception. Becht has averaged 8.9 yards per catch in four seasons, has just seven catches of 20 or more yards, and has never had a reception of longer than 30 yards. Becht was part of one of the several packages the Jets floated to the Redskins back in March, when they were bidding for then-Washington cornerback Champ Bailey. And the four-year veteran, one of four first-round picks the Jets had in the 2000 draft, is going into the final year of his contract.
I agree, sign a guard or two and let them compete! Can't Hurt!!!
And, I'm glad to see that Penny's Contract Talks have started. Great. Love it. Terry is having a much better offseason than last offseason, like night and day.
Hey, what was the proposed trade for Champ? That would have been sweet to have him, provided the Jets would not have given away more than two starters and a backup or two and maybe a draft pick. I would have given away Becht, Abe, maybe someone like one of our inept young OT/OGs waiting in the wings, and a future 2nd round pick...but a proposition did exist and I forget what it was at this moment in time, so whatever. It didn't go through, and we -still- have Becht, so screw it.
Besides our roster is full right now. Which one of those guards is worth cutting one of our other guys? Also I don't see any of them disappearing too fast. Personally I would have a couple of them in for work outs to see if they are in shape and have anything left and tell them we might be calling around week 2 of the preseason. By then we should have a clear idea if we have anything from all the kids we have in camp and can make an educated decision regarding bring a guard in or not. As far as I am concerned I would much rather see if one of our kids can do something or wait and see if someone better is cut loose during trainging camp (doubtful) rather than pick up a retread that could actually stifle the development of a Cavka, Goodwin or Yovanovits.