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Glad To See The Moves....But

By Tom Nolan
Jets Insider.com Fan Contributor
March 12th, 2004
David Barrett, the unknown CB from Arizona hopes to plug a hole in the Jets secondary. (AP)
David Barrett, the unknown CB from Arizona hopes to plug a hole in the Jets secondary. (AP)
Give the Jets credit. They formulated a plan – get younger and faster on D and give Pennington more weapons – and they’re sticking to it.

They’ve jettisoned guys who clearly had to go and signed players to address the most pressing needs – big receiver, playmaking LB and a cornerback. And I’m sure safety help is on its way too (hello John Lynch???) The Justin McCareins signing was by far the best offensive FA signing they’ve made in several years and gives them a young, big, legitimate up and coming receiver to complement Moss and help Pennington. I think worth the second rounder, no question, and one of Bradway’s best (if not the best) FA move he’s made. And considering all of T.O.’s histrionics about getting screwed out of his big payday with the Eagles, I won’t even complain that they could have had him for the same price.

I’m happy to see the organization doing something. But it remains to be seen how this plays out and I’m being cautiously optimistic.

As so many Jet beat reporters have pointed out, McCareins next 100 yard receiving game will be his first. He’s looked good. I watched enough Titan football to believe this guy could be a player (I was at the Monday night game when he scored that monster TD, but frankly I think that had a lot more to do with how pathetic the Jets secondary was and not so much McCareins’ ability).

But I’m naturally leery of guys who have had one or two solid seasons and are being touted as one of the next stars in the league. How many times has there been a receiver who looked like he was on the verge of stardom, signs with a new team, gets to be “the man” and turns out to be an absolute flop. I’ll give you a name many Jets fans are familiar with: Matthew Hatchette. I remember the same exact things being said about him that they’re saying about McCareins. Or how about Derrius Thompson – thought he was on the brink of being an elite player as well - ask Miami how he’s panned out for them.

Regarding the other moves, I’m also remaining cautious about the Eric Barton signing. I remember him being a force on the ‘02 Super Bowl team, and he’s got to be better than anything the Jets had last year at linebacker. The Jets spin is that statistically he actually had his best year in 2003 with 131 tackles. But I’ve read several reports that all said his production clearly was down last year and that he actually padded his tackle stats after other teammates in front of him would slow down the ballcarrier.

And I have no idea who David Barrett is. I know he’s played in no-mans-land down in Arizona, but I don’t remember his name being in the sports page as a free agent “sleeper” corner teams should consider. His report sounds OK: “tenacious tackler, decent cover guy”, but I don’t know what kind of a player he is, frankly. I know what Antoine Winfield can do. I know what Champ Bailey can do. But Barrett is a mystery. And any Jet fan that tells me that they were rejoicing in the signing of David Barrett is lying. He’ll probably turn out to be fine. But I thought they overpaid for someone who ultimately may turn out to be just OK.

Basically I’ve tempered my expectations of what Eric Barton and David Barrett are going to bring to the table.

Now obviously Jet land is buzzing with the release of John Lynch. Sounds like a natural green and white fit. The guy is one of the best defensive players of the last decade and truly one of the game’s “leaders”. He loves Herm, Herm loves him. He plays a position that the team just happens to be looking to fill.

Done deal? We’ll see. Bradway and Co. have to be practical because Lynch will command big bucks on the open market. And he’s 32.

Plus there will be a lot of teams attempting to sign him I could see Indy and the Chargers getting drawn in and I’m sure his agent will turn it into a bidding war. Is it worth it to overpay for a guy with declining playmaking ability in exchange for his great leadership and locker room presence? I really hope it happens, but it has to be a rational deal.

Going back to the Parcells regime (since I’ve blocked out anything that happened to this team before that – sort of my own Jets fan version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), how many free agent pick-ups have actually panned out for the Jets?

There’s been a couple. Curtis Martin. Vinny Testaverde. Kevin Mawae. Maybe I’ll even give you a Bryan Cox or a Doug Brien.

How many disappointments? Just as many and more. The aforementioned Hattchete. Curtis Conway. Roman Phifer. Aaron Beasley. Sam Garnes. The list goes on.

Free agency ain’t free. They’ve doled out a lot of money to Justin McCareins, David Barrett and Eric Barton and Lord knows what John Lynch will want. If any of them turns out to be a bust, their salary cap money will haunt you down the road.

Again, I quietly applaud the moves. But I’ll wait a while before I give a standing ovation.

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