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Rumor Roundup: Elam Stays. Cutler Coming? TJ Going?

By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
March 19th, 2009
Another ex Jet to the Browns? Not Abram Elam. Speaking of the Browns, could they be the integral cog that gets Jay Cutler to Floram Park? Also, a certain Jet Pro Bowl RB wants a raise and has not yet shown up for the offseason workouts. Will the Jets show him the money? All this and MANY MORE TIDBITS in this week's edition of the JI Rumor Roundup.

Jones a No-Show at Offseason Program

The Jets began their voluntary offseason conditioning program Monday...without running back Thomas Jones. Jones is reportedly unhappy with his contract situation, in which he is due $900,000 for the 2009 season. Jones made $13.1 million in his first two years with the Jets, but he is certainly clamoring for more after last year's Pro Bowl season. While Jones is coming off his finest season in his nine-year career (1,312 yards, 13 touchdowns), he is a 31-year old running back and the Jets will soon have to renegotiate a new deal for Leon Washington. Jones could very well be entering his final season with the Jets.

Cutler Not on the Block Just Yet

Disgruntled Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler voiced his desire to be dealt, leaving the Jets as an attractive trading partner. Cutler's relationship with new head coach Josh McDaniels began to deteriorate after reports surfaced that McDaniels attempted to deal for his former understudy Matt Cassel. While Cutler possesses the cannon arm that offensive coaches dream about, his attitude certainly raises a red flag. The Broncos have not placed Cutler on the trading block, mainly due to the fact that they don’t have a viable replacement for him. This point brought up the wild rumor du jour today which would need the help of our old friend Eric Mangini in Cleveland who has too many QB’s.

The Daily News today brought up a scenario that would send the Jets top pick to the Browns (#17 overall) which would then send either QB Derek Anderson or QB Brady Quinn to Denver and Cutler to NY.

The chances of this actually happening is remote, as blockbuster three-way deals rarely occur in the NFL, but on paper is makes sense for all parties involved. The rebuilding Browns would love that #17 pick, Denver gets a great replacement for Cutler and Jay gets to exit Denver and go to a talented contending team. There is though the small problem of Mangini getting kicked to the curb by the Jets in December which would understandably make Mangenius a bit hesitant to help his ex-employers.

Jets Match Elam Tender

The Jets matched the Browns' one-year, $1.5 million tender to safety Abram Elam, ensuring that Elam will be part of Ryan's secondary this season. Elam entered the offseason as a restricted free agent and was given a one-year, $1.01 million tender by the Jets.

The Jets' pass-defense ranked near the bottom of the league last season (234.5 yards allowed/game, 29th in NFL) and was in need of some depth behind Kerry Rhodes and newly-signed Jim Leonhard. Elam replaced the injured Eric Smith as a starter last year and quietly produced, as he recorded 69 tackles, one interception (92-yard touchdown return) and three forced fumbles. Elam's most memorable play came in the Jets' 31-27 win over the Bills, in which he stripped the football from quarterback J.P. Losman late in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Shaun Ellis picked up the fumble and scampered into the endzone for the game-winning touchdown.

This season, Elam will likely share reserve duties with Smith, but Ryan's pressure-scheme could help the fourth-year safety blossom. Elam's coverage skills remain unpolished, yet he made an impact in run-defense and on his seldom blitzing opportunities last year.

The team's decision to retain Elam also paused Cleveland's streak of signing former Jets. New Browns head coach Eric Mangini has already inked defensive end CJ Mosley, cornerback Hank Poteat, linebackers Eric Barton and David Bowens and running back Noah Herron.

Freeman, Davis on Team's Draft Radar

The Jets hold the 17th overall pick in next month's draft and Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman will certainly be on their radar. Ryan and Tannenbaum reportedly flew to Manhattan, Kan. to hold a private workout with Freeman. He is regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Georgia's Matthew Stafford and South California's Mark Sanchez. Freeman certainly has the strong arm that the team desires, but questions about his accuracy linger.

The Jets also are expected to take a strong look at Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis. According to NFL.com, Davis was clocked at 4.4 seconds in 40-yard dash at today's Illinois Pro Day. While Darrelle Revis earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl last season, the team never filled the other cornerback slot. David Barrett, Ty Law and Dwight Lowery all split time playing aside Revis last year. The team acquired veteran Lito Sheppard from the Eagles earlier this month who is entering his 8th year in the NFL and will fill the gap for now, but Davis could be the long term solution to pair with Revis.

Keep an Eye on Samari

With the Jets still searching for depth at the cornerback position, one name to keep an eye on is Samari Rolle who will reportedly meet with the Jets as early as Thursday evening. Rolle had asked the Ravens for his release and the team granted the 32-year old cornerback his wish Monday. Rolle signed with the Ravens in 2005 after spending the previous seven years with the Titans, but injuries derailed the past two seasons for the star cornerback (16 appearances). Rolle has made it clear that he has no intentions to retire and reuniting with Ryan would surely be an attractive fit for the 11-year veteran at the nickel…especially since the Browns signed CB Corey Ivy earlier this week who the Jets were considering bringing aboard.

Another name that was buzzing a bit today as an option for Gang Green is WR Matt Jones who was released from the Jags earlier this week. The 25 year old Jones, who has a checkered history with drugs and the law, was let go after he violated probation from an earlier cocaine possession charge. Despite his problems, he got the size (6’6”) and talent that the Jets could use. The Cowboys reportedly have interest as well. It’s unclear if the league will take action for Jones’ latest transgression but he will likely face some type of suspension.

Jets Announce Douglas and Green Signings

The Jets signed defensive end Marques Douglas and defensive tackle Howard Green. Douglas served primarily in a reserve role with the Ravens last season, as he recorded 36 tackles in 16 games. He is likely to serve in the same role this season, but he could also line up at outside linebacker as a situational pass rusher on passing downs. Douglas' playing time could increase this season if defensive end Kenyon Coleman continues to struggle. Last season, Coleman recorded 53 tackles and just 0.5 sack in 16 starts.

Green (6-2, 320 pounds) will add experienced depth behind nose tackle Kris Jenkins this season, which the team has sorely lacked. Jenkins performed at an All-Pro level during the Jets' run atop the division last season, but when he began to break down because of back and hip injuries, Sione Pouha was unable to fill the void. Green played in 13 games with the Seahawks last year and registered 21 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

Special Teams Ace Returns

The team also retained cornerback Ahmad Carroll, who flourished on special teams last year. The deal is believed to be a one-year contract. Carroll tied Wallace Wright for the team lead with 26 special teams tackles last season. He did play sparingly in the secondary, but his days covering receivers appear to be behind him. Carroll was originally selected by the Packers in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, however he found himself with the Arena League's Orlando Predators after just 28 career starts.

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