As we enter the third day of free agency the Jets have released Sione Po’uha, lost Yeremiah Bell (Cardinals), LaRon Landry (Colts), Mike DeVito (Chiefs), Shonn Greene (Titans) and could be on the verge of losing Dustin Keller to the Dolphins. Meanwhile the only additions to the roster are David Garrard and bringing back FB Lex Hilliard, so what gives? What’s the plan here? Are they going to sign anybody? What’s going on with Revis?
The answer to all of these questions is patience.
While the Jets have lost a handful of impact players, lost isn’t really the right word since they never made much of an effort to keep any of those players. The Jets would have loved to keep DeVito and Landry, but they knew they couldn’t win a bidding war for their services so the Jets have been prepared to move on. They would like to keep Keller at a reasonable price, but they’re also inclined to let him go if the Dolphins or anyone else is willing to pony up a nice chunk of change for the consistently inconsistent tight end. Greene was never coming back, but still he found a home with the Titans who paid him $3 million a year.
At first glance it may pain Jet fans to see all these ex-players signing huge contracts, but in the end the more money these ex-Jets make in free agency they more compensatory draft picks the Jets will receive in return for next year’s draft.
As for where do they go from here? Their cap situation isn’t nearly as bad as it has been made out to be, after releasing Po’uha, restructuring Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie the Jets are about $16 million under the cap for this year and they can still free up more money by releasing Tebow and restructuring others such as Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
$16 million is enough to plug a few holes with some good value veteran deals and combine with this year’s draft class to field a fairly competitive team after all. However you can’t expect the Jets to go after any big name free agents, or try to overpay anyone. Next year the Jets will have plenty of cap room to spend (regardless of what happens with Revis) and that’s when they can consider becoming players in the free agent market. For now Jet fans will have to be patient as new GM John Idzik is reworking this roster and will be focused on value signings and rebuilding through the draft.
As of now we know the Jets have their sights set on four free agent targets, WR Brandon Gibson (who visited yesterday and is staying to visit again today), RB Mike Goodson (visiting today), OLB Antwaun Barnes (visiting today) and OLB Victor Butler (visiting Pittsburgh today but Jets have expressed interest). Gibson is the most questionable of these targets, the Jets have a decent receiving core and one could argue Gibson isn’t much better than many other cheaper options, but with Holmes and Hill both coming off season-ending injuries the Jets want to ensure they have another veteran receiver already in place if either of those guys aren’t ready at the beginning of the season. Either way they’d liked to add depth at receiver and signing Gibson would do that and allow them to focus their draft attention on more pressing needs. If they can get Gibson on a short deal for around $2 million a year it’d be an understandable signing, if it gets closer to $4 million a year or more it becomes much more questionable. UPDATE: Gibson has left the Jets facilities and will continue his free agency tour.
Mike Goodson is a different story and a very intriguing option for the Jets. Goodson has a lot of untapped potential as he was buried on the depth chart in Carolina for three years and spent last season in the black hole that is the Oakland Raiders. Goodson has quick feet, is a good receiving back and has the ability to make plays in space. With Greene gone the Jets need to add a couple of backs to the rotation and taking a flier on a guy like Goodson could provide good value on the return. Signing him would not be looked at as a replacement for Greene within the organization, a possible replacement sure, but not their final move at the position. Whether the Jets sign Goodson, another veteran back or none, expect them to draft a back somewhere between rounds two and four.
Antwan Barnes is also visiting today and he has ties to Rex Ryan from his days in Baltimore. With the Jets letting Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott go they need to find some new linebackers. Barnes had 11 sacks, while only starting in five games, in 2011, but had a disappointing season last year with only three sacks and just six total tackles in 11 games before being placed on injury reserve with a hamstring injury. Barnes has been a productive passer rusher from the outside linebacker spot before, putting him back in Rex Ryan’s defense and getting him to rush around the edges of Wilkerson and Coples could turn into another good value signing.
Victor Butler is an outside linebacker that has flashed a ton of potential but has been buried in the depth chart in Dallas. He definitely offers speed around the edge the Jets defense has lacked for years, but with Pittsburgh in dire need of linebackers to revamp their defense as well he might not make it out of there without a deal.
Barnes or Butler or Barnes and Butler, you can still expect linebacker to be a targeted position by the Jets in the draft, however with DeVito and Po’uha gone we now have to expect that there could very well be a defensive tackle or two drafted and/or signed in free agency. Same goes for safety with Landry and Bell gone, Antonio Allen will be given a bigger role and they’ll give Josh Bush a chance, but the safety position has to be upgraded with a combination of the draft and free agency.
The Jets also aren’t done at quarterback. They have interest in Jason Campbell, but it seems he’s likely to sign elsewhere, but Matt Cassell just got released and the Cardinals are reportedly set to release Kevin Kolb, both of whom could be targeted by the Jets. Kolb makes the most sense and would seem like a good choice for him, now I am not and never have been a Kolb fan, but he was productive in Marty Mornhinweg’s system and as bad as he was in Arizona it’s hard to accurately judge his performance because of how horrifically awful his offensive line was, he didn’t have a great line with the Eagles either. They can sign him to a cheap one or two year deal and hope for the best and cut bait all the same next season if none of these guys work out. The important thing to remember here is it’s not so much can Kolb be good, it’s could he be better than Sanchez and Garrard?
Now to the never-ending Revis saga. I know many of you fans probably just want this to be over with at this point, but brace yourselves for the long haul because I’m not as convinced as others that this will or has to get done by Saturday (when Revis gets his $1 million bonus). First off, to force a decision of this magnitude because of $1 million would be sheer lunacy. If you have a deal in place that you like then sure take it before Saturday, but you don’t just take the best crap offer to save a lousy $1 million.
And there in lies the rub, the offer that is being reported (if I’m understanding this correctly) is for either the Bucs second-round pick this year or their first next year, to which I say, one pick? Really, just one pick? And the Bucs refusal to at least make that one pick the 13th pick in this year’s draft seems to be the sticking point, which is a pretty freaking gigantic sticking point!
If that’s the best offer, than you tell teams to call you when they get serious and prepare to enter the season with the best cornerback alive who is determined to prove to the world he’s just as good as he ever was. If the Jets are still determined to absolutely trade him (something I’ve never believed but more on that in a minute) then wait until he comes back healthy and proves he’s still the best in the world and trade him before the trading deadline. They’ll get a nice package of value picks then, sure it wouldn’t be for a top overall pick because you’d likely be dealing him to a contender but you could collect at least three valuable draft picks.
Idzik needs to call the Bucs bluff here. Let them go out and sign some of these other guys, none of them can offer what Revis can and the Bucs know that, but they’re trying to take advantage of the Jets apparent desperation to trade him. We keep hearing about these reports that the Jets are “determined” to trade him, but I’ve never bought into that. There’s a distinct difference from a new GM shopping his best player to assess value and “determined to trade.”
The reason behind the “determined” reports is based off the assumption that Woody Johnson has decided he doesn’t want to pay Revis anymore no matter what, but again I’m not sold. I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility that Johnson is feed up with Revis’ agents and might not want to deal with them ever again, but I’m also not ruling out the possibility that all of this, every single word, is just public negotiation.
Also if you notice there’s a market correction transpiring when it comes to corners, they’re not getting the type of money they expected because teams felt their value had become inflated and you can see the market correcting itself. So what does this mean? It means Revis won’t be seeing the type of money he was hoping for either even if he comes back fully healthy and fully Revis before signing. So maybe he wouldn’t cost as much for the Jets, or anyone, to re-sign, but also maybe he sees the market for corners has dried up and while teams will certainly be willing to pay Revis as the top corner if he returns to form, but that number for top corner will come down.
All of this means is, with the Jets already set up nicely for the 2014 cap when Sanchez comes off the books, the idea of the Jets extending him during training camp or mid-season becomes more and more appealing. And remember before all of this trade talk, at the end of the season, Revis told us he knew he was going to have to come back and prove he’s healthy and the same old Revis before talking about a new contract, so why can’t that still happen?
Ultimately I believe the Jets were and are willing to deal Revis, but only for a package that meets a specific amount of value that they have decided on. If the market for him isn’t producing the offers they were looking for because his value has been lowered by his injury, then simply hold on to him until he returns to form and decide if you want to shop him again or try to extend him at something that will make both sides happy and I believe if Idzik doesn’t get an offer that meets his standards he will follow this type of plan.
This will forever go down in history as Idzik’s first real decision of consequence as a GM, he can’t look back at this years later and think ‘how did I only get a second round draft pick for Darrelle (expletive) Revis?’