Dynamic Duo Vows Return in '06
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 2nd, 2006
The two men most linked to the Jets recent success – and this season’s demise – also were the two men in the eye of continually swirling rumors today at Hofstra.
As players cleaned out their lockers on “Baggie Day,” head coach Herman Edwards and the invisible quarterback, Chad Pennington, each steadfastly denied speculation about their futures. Edwards again stated his future belongs with the Jets and no another team, while Pennington reiterated he still has a future in the League.
For the first time since his Oct. 6 shoulder surgery, Pennington clarified the status of his rehabilitation and discussed the difference between initial surgery on Feb. 6.
Pennington said his second surgery was “less invasive” and it repaired a different injury. Both procedures were performed by Dr. James Andrews, but the second repaired an anterior capsule tear – with a slight tear in the rotator cuff, but not in the same area of the first injury – in the shoulder.
“It was a totally different injury,” Pennington said. “Some people try and make me a liar…I feel really good about my progress. This time around has been easier.”
Pennington, whose arm was pulled back by Jaguars DE Paul Spicer on Sept. 25, said this recovery has been less difficult because he isn’t trying to build arm-strength while practicing. This was his barometer: before training camp next July, Pennington will have been 10 months into his rehabilitation. Pennington was in the midst of two-a-days five months after his first surgery.
“I haven’t dealt with as much as I did the first time,” Pennington said. “I have experience on my side this time.”
If the Jets rushed their $64-million quarterback the first time, bet your top dollar he will be coddled this offseason. Pennington painted a broad stroke of when he will resume throwing, saying it could be as early February or as late as April.
One certainty is Pennington won’t be the heir to the throne next season. He expects the Jets to bring in a veteran – some of the names floated were Billy Volek, Jon Kitna, Kerry Collins and Drew Brees before he tore his labrum in the Chargers' final game – to compete for the job.
“We want Chad back, but he knows he’ll be competing for the job,” Edwards said. “He knows that and understands that.”
“The Jets are going to do what they need to be better,” Pennington said. “I like the speculation because it gives me fuel. That’s probably what they’re going to do. That’s what they did with Jay [Fiedler].”
Pennington’s confidence stems from having more time to rest his shoulder and that “no one can question our success when I was a healthy quarterback.” Yet Pennington has yet to play a full 16-game schedule in his six-year career.
Also, Pennington is due $12-million next season and would cost the Jets nearly $20-million if he was released before March 1. He wouldn’t discuss restructuring his contract, but a pay-cut is looming.
In contrast to his quarterback, Edwards’ has spoken to media frequently about his status with the team. He has addressed his potential exodus fueling rumors since stirring the bee hive six weeks ago. Today, he was curt when broached with the subject.
“I don’t want to make that same mistake,” he said.
Edwards has not spoken with players about leaving since he called it a non-issue.
“They know where I’m coming from,” Edwards said. “They know I’m going to be the coach.”
Edwards has two years remaining on his contract would not discuss the possibility of contacting management in regards to an extension.
“I haven’t talked to my agents,” Edwards said. “Whatever the answer is I wouldn’t announce it anyway because it’s private.”
Running back Curtis Martin, whose future with the Jets is also mired in doubt, said he expects Edwards to be back next season. “If I was a betting man I’d bet 10 to 100 he’d be here,” Martin said.
Martin also expects Pennington to come back 2006. Said Martin: “There’s something about being in a situation where you’ve never been.”
That pretty much sums up the Jets 2005 season. Next year, it will be up to Pennington and Edwards to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Given the retooling this offseason will bring, the Jets will have to make several player decisions. Here are some of the notable sound bites from potential castaways on Baggie Day 2005.
T Jason Fabini, a potential cap-casualty, was asked if he would return next season and offered this response: “I’m old.”
C Kevin Mawae when asked about his future said: “I would hope to be here but I understand the need for youth at some positions.”
CB Ty Law, who is owed an $11-million roster bonus in March, on staying with the Jets: “I think I have proven that I can still play this game. I’m just very confident that good things are going to happen wherever I’m playing football [next season]. I want to be in a happy place.”
RB Curtis Martin’s response when asked about having a younger running back come to the Jets: “I would embrace that fully. I would tell anyone just like I told LaMont [Jordan]: I want you to beat me out [for the starting job], but you’re going to have to beat me out.”
QB Brooks Bollinger when asked about the roster reshuffling in the offseason and maybe being a second-string quarterback elsewhere: “It’s human nature to think about it but you try not to think about it. There are so many variable, so many scenarios. It’s frustrating but there’s no way you can know so you control what you can control and hope for the best.”
DE John Abraham was not available for comment after yesterday’s win or today because left the team. Sources said familial issues, not his pending contract negotiation, were the trigger for an expedited exit.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2006
Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions.
Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings.
On Thursday at 11 a.m., Jets general manager Terry Bradway and coach Herman Edwards will hold their annual State-of-the-Jets address. Jetsinsider.com writers James J. Parziale and Justin Paley will be reporting, so check back for all the latest updates during the week and throughout the offseason.