FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Certainly there has been an overload of coverage surrounding the on-going saga between the NFL’s owners and the union, but how does the lockout affect clubs on a team-by team basis?
The Jets are one of the few teams who are in a good position, given the current circumstances, to continue to be a top-tier team in 2011…if, that is, there’s a 2011 season.
The Jets have something that’s a rarity in the current NFL: continuity. Rex Ryan and the entire coaching staff (sans Sal Alosi, of course) are returning for the 2011 season. The groundwork for offensive and defensive schemes have already been laid–two seasons ago, in fact — and the Jets don’t have to worry about the added pains of incorporating a new system. And despite their 15 expiring contracts, the Jets have a very good chance at retaining the majority of their core free agents.
“They’ll probably get most of their [free agents] back, and they already have a good nucleus,” one general manager told ESPNNewYork.com. “They shouldn’t miss a beat compared to other teams. I think they’re in a good position.”
The Jets high-profile free agents, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie, definitely remain a top priority. But if the draft happens before the free agency process begins, (which is the case as of this moment) then many second-tier free agents (Brad Smith, Brodney Pool and Eric Smith) may suffer, likely forcing those players to re-sign with their current teams at a lesser price.
While general manager Mike Tannebaum continues to plot out his off-season course in pencil, other Jets personnel like owner Woody Johnson and player representative Brandon Moore continue to clash on the details regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.
Johnson issued this statement to Jets fans after the announcement of the decertification and lockout:
“It may take longer than we all had hoped, but New York Jets fans should know that a deal will get done and I remain confident that there will be NFL football in 2011. Although I was very disappointed that the union chose legal maneuvering over negotiating, I am convinced that our differences can be resolved at the bargaining table. We care deeply about our players and will continue to work towards an agreement that is fair and reasonable for everyone – the fans, the players and the teams. The goal for the Jets will not change – we are committed to bringing you a championship.”
Moore took offense over the accusations that the union was too preoccupied with the thoughts of litigation to get anything done through mediation. “We wanted to do a deal as far back as 2009. To question our desire to get a deal done, and that we wanted to take it to the courts … why would we want to do that? We were happy with deal, they opted out.”
He added that “decertification was the only tool we had. We know for sure the league was prepared to lock us out because of the TV contract they negotiated. That’s a fact; they were already planning for a lockout.”
With the league currently in a lockout, the Jets have reduced the salaries of Tannebaum, Rex Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff by 25 percent, with non-contract employees forced to have one unpaid week per month. The money lost will all be recouped, however, if the new deal were to be struck before the start of the season.
Additionally the lockout affects the off-season conditioning programs implemented by teams, which usually begin around mid-March. Due to the lockout, the Jets’ players have been barred from using any of the team’s facilities. The door has been left open, however, for players to train at their own facilities on their own time.
Last season Mark Sanchez invited out his receivers to the “Jets West” for a passing camp near his California home. Sanchez has talked about doing the same this year. Also Darrelle Revis has invited out his fellow defensive backs to train with him at facilities in Arizona.
The problem that arises with these private training camps, the players are not protected if they were to be injured. And for impending free agents such as Holmes, Edwards, B. Smith, Cromartie, Pool, E.Smith and Drew Coleman the thought of a possible injury hurting their chances at a new contract may scare them away from participation.
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