Could the Jets do an end around this draft and go tight end?
Broncos' quarterback Jay Cutler remains at a crossroad in his relationship with new head coach Josh McDaniels and the Jets reportedly contacted the Broncos earlier in the week to express their interest in the disgruntled signal-caller. While the Jets have let it be known that they would explore a deal for Cutler, both Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff remain the leading candidates for the starting job. For Clemens, the competition is rather familiar. After he was relatively ineffective in ten games with the team in 2007 as he tossed ten interceptions and just five touchdowns, he was squared off against former Jet Chad Pennington during training camp last summer. That competition obviously became a wash once the team traded for Brett Favre and Clemens was relegated to backup duties.
"I've been here and been through it before," Clemens said today of the quarterback competition.
Clemens explained that he feels "a lot more comfortable" in the position and as for the Cutler trade talks, he's taking a familiar approach.
"Me worrying about it or thinking about it is going to have nothing to do with it," Clemens said of the Cutler trade rumors. "I am approaching it the same way I did last year when everything started surfacing about Brett [Favre]."
As the Jets begin their first mini-camp under Rex Ryan, Clemens noted that his job is "to prove that we don't need to go outside of what is already in this locker room" to find the next starting quarterback.
Ratliff burst into the picture last summer after a strong preseason in which he led all AFC quarterbacks with a 122.6 rating. However, Ratliff's surprising performance turned out to be too little too late to join the Jets' quarterback competition. Despite not taking a single NFL snap, Ratliff is involved in the competition this season and he's ignoring the Cutler rumors.
"I try not to focus on things like that because I can't control that," he said. "I can control being here early. I can control how hard I work so that is what I am going to continue to do."
Is Brett Reuniting with Mangini?
For Browns head coach Eric Mangini and the recently-retired Favre, the lasting images of a once-promising season turned sour remain similar. As the Jets limped off the Meadowlands turf last December following a season-ending loss to the Dolphins, Mangini and Favre both appeared beaten and exasperated. Perhaps each knew that his brief tenure with the Jets was soon to end. Mangini was the first to leave town as he was fired the next morning, while Favre quietly announced his retirement just two months later.
Now as Mangini prepares for his second stint as an NFL head coach while Favre relaxes at home in Mississippi, the two are reportedly discussing a reunion. The Daily News reported late last week that Mangini and Favre have been exchanging text messages since the Jets' season ended on Dec. 29 and the idea of Favre joining his former coach at Browns' training camp has been raised.
Favre remains under contract with the Jets so he would be unable to serve as a coach on Mangini's staff, however Mangini explained that Favre could join the team as an instructor for quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
While reports circulated during the Jets' collapse that the relationship between Mangini and Favre had withered, Mangini disupted that notion in his conversation with the Daily News.
"We had a legitimately good relationship," Mangini said. "I like Brett a lot. That was a tough situation for him to come into and I thought he handled it incredibly well."
An intersting scenario considering that some could say that Favre's bad play during the final quarter of last season ultimately resulted in Mangini's demise in NY.
Jets on the Move for Training Camp
As the Jets concluded training camp last August, they closed the doors on their 40-year stint at Hofstra University. The Jets then welcomed their $75 million state-of-the-art facility in Florham Park, N.J., but the site of this season's training camp was left unclear. The Jets have not mentioned possible locations, but it is believed that head coach Rex Ryan is considering Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. and SUNY-Cortland.
While a return to Hofstra would surely please the team's Long Island fan base, Ryan really seems to want to get away.
Jets Sign Strickland
The Jets continued to improve their re-tooled defense yesterday as they signed cornerback Donald Strickland to a three-year contract. Strickland played in 14 games (three starts) with the 49ers last season and primarily covered the slot receiver in nickel and dime packages. The Jets had been seeking a third cornerback to feature with Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard and Strickland will certainly fill that void. Former Ravens cornerbacks Corey Ivy and Samari Rolle met with the Jets earlier in the offseason, but both players left without signing a contract. Ivy has since inked a deal with the Browns while Rolle remains unsigned.
In 49 career games, Strickland has totaled 147 tackles (105 solo), two interceptions and 15 passes defensed.
With Strickland now in the fold, second-year cornerback Dwight Lowery's role will certainly decrease. Lowery rose up the depth charts and started in the Jets' season-opening win over the Dolphins last season after a strong training camp, but his coverage skills weakened and he was replaced by Ty Law by mid-season. Lowery will now likely have to compete for playing time with Drew Coleman, who was rarely featured in Mangini's defensive plans. Coleman played in just nine games last season and recorded 23 tackles and one sack.
Pettigrew Reportedly on Team's Radar
While the Jets continue to build their defense through free agency, they will certainly focus on improving the offensive side of the ball in April's NFL Draft. Florida's Percy Harvin and North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks both highlight a talented wide receiver crop, yet the Jets' interest in both players could be waning. The Star-Ledger is reporting that the team has "cooled" on the idea of drafting Harvin or Nicks to fill the void left by Laveranues Coles.
However, the Star-Ledger is also reporting that Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew has "surfaced on their radar." Pettigrew, (6-5, 263 pounds) is the top prospect at the position and is viewed as an excellent blocker with solid pass-catching skills.
The Jets' need for a tight end grew after Chris Baker signed a contract with the Patriots earlier in the offseason. Dustin Keller is the lone tight end on the Jets' depth chart and his blocking skills remain a work in progress. Ryan envisions the Jets featuring a run-heavy offense and therefore, having a tight end who can block is imperative.