Per TheJetsBlog’s Jake Steinberg, the Jets may have interest in another free agent receiver:
Hawkins is a 27-year old converted cornerback and stands just 5-7 and 175. However, he ran a 4.34 at Toledo’s pro day in 2008 and is excellent in the open field. The Jets were rumored to have serious interest in Tavon Austin in last year’s draft and Hawkins is the same kind of player.
Last year he caught just 15 passes for 217 yards (including three catches in the Bengals’ postseason game), but that’s because he missed the first half of the season with an ankle injury. When he returned, he played just 124 snaps with the Bengals already deep and playing well at wideout so he was actually pretty productive when called upon. In the previous season, he had a breakout year with over 50 catches and four touchdowns.
Hawkins is also an excellent contributor on special teams, where he excels as a gunner. Adding him to the roster would prevent teams from triple-teaming Ellis Lankster, which was actually happening in a few late season games. Hawkins also has the skill-set to return kicks and although he has never done so in an NFL game, he has practiced with the return units while in Cincinnati and has kick and punt return experience both in college and in his two years in Canada.
The Cincinnati Enquirer did state recently that the team “isn’t expected to let him get away”. However, the fact they only placed an original round tender on him surprised some people. For a Bengals team that already has AJ Green, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones all on rookie deals, they will have to weigh up whether matching an offer sheet for Hawkins is wise. They do currently have almost $30m in cap room and would have five days to match if the Jets did sign Hawkins to an offer sheet.
From what we hear, this won’t be the only receiver the Jets intend to target this offseason. Manish Mehta of the Daily News seems adamant that they will target Emmanuel Sanders, although I’m not sure that a top three of Sanders, Kerley and Hawkins makes sense because they need some size.
(picture via Max Henson on Twitter)
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
Pro Day season began this week and after spending Monday at Ole Miss, it seems that Jets Senior Director of College Scouting popped over to Auburn on Tuesday before being spotted in South Carolina Thursday at Clemson’s Pro Day. While that is interesting in and of itself, it seems that Bradway was joined by Jets General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan, thanks to a TJB tipster on hand for the proceedings.
Ryan’s son, Seth, walked on for the Clemson football team and attends the school so while the Jets head coach might be double-dipping both business and pleasure in South Carolina, it’s worth noting that Ryan was met by two of the highest ranking members of the team’s front office.
Sammy Watkins (Projected pick: Top 10) — For this much Jets manpower to attend a Pro Day of potential draftees who fall well ahead or well behind their 18th pick, it has to be taken into consideration that the Jets are taking a good long look at Watkins. Watkins is the best of an incredibly deep class of receivers and projects by many to be an immediate impact maker at the pro level. With smooth acceleration and a good top speed coupled with sharp footwork, excellent body control and improving ball skills, wrapped up in an NFL veteran’s presence at playing the ball and defender … he could be a very special player in the NFL. With multiple gears at multiple levels of the field, Watkins is the type of player that will likely make any NFL quarterback better. Are the Jets taking a serious look at the draft’s top receiver to see what it would take for them to move up to acquire such a player? With the triumverate in Clemson today, it’s hard not to think they are considering the cost … is the proverbial squeeze worth the juice?
Brandon Thomas (Projected pick: 2-3 round) — Thomas played well at the collegiate level and projects well to the pros as an interior linemen. The value of guards seems to be on the rise in a counter-move to the number of interior defensive linemen who are increasingly capable of creating damage in the NFL. Thomas would be a good fit and might slide into the spot left by Willie Colon, but are the Jets full up on the line after drafting three linemen last year?
WR Martavis Bryant (Projected pick: 2-3 round) — During the Clemson Pro Day, the Jets showed active interest in Bryant. This to me is interesting, but might it be a smokescreen for their interest in Watkins? Bryant is a raw athlete who Dane Brugler compares to Stephen Hill. Whether ahead or behind at this point, it’s hard to say, but so far the Jets have already invested two years into Hill and would drafting a player like Bryant move them back to square one? While Bryant is tall and has a good frame (6’4″ 211 lbs) to play receiver in the NFL, he needs to tighten up a lot of his technique to hope to have much of an impact at the NFL. At Clemson, Bryant benefited from Watkins, didn’t run a full route tree and double-caught more balls than many would like to see from a player with NFL aspirations. There might be something there for the Jets coaching staff to work with, but any expectations of early contribution in the NFL seem unlikely.
CB Bashuad Breeland (Projected pick: 3-4 round) — While he doesn’t have the best timed speed and he might have benefited from staying one more year in school, Breeland has family on his mind and at age 22 the corner was ready to take on the NFL. He was smooth in positional drills at the Combine and has the fluidity NFL coaches like to see in defensive backs regardless of timed speed. Breeland is 6’0″ tall and has long arms, a trait many press man coverage teams like in their corners (like the Jets).
QB Tajh Boyd (Projected pick: 4-7 round) — Boyd was considered a top prospect last season, but after a lackluster 2013 his prospects have seemed to drop him. Boyd is said to have good ball placement and velocity on his passes and has demonstrated poise in the pocket. Boyd is also classified as having a “compact” body type with lateral agility that provides him elusivity on the run. For all these reasons, he’s positively compared to Russell Wilson, but there are some concerns around his game. He’s said to have too long a wind-up and he can drop his eyes in favor of scrambling too often. Rex has been complimentary of Boyd in the past … but is he the right fit for the Jets?
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comSome news and notes around free agency (with some Jets sensibilities) to get the day started.
Double-down — The Daily News speculates Wednesday that because Jeremy Maclin has been signed by the Eagles, the Jets are all the more interested in Sanders. I see the point, but am calling foul. The key here is that Emmanuel Sanders and Jeremy Maclin are two very different types of receivers capable of vastly different types of production. Yes, the Patriots were interested in Sanders last year … but for what role in a pass heavy offense? If the Jets had interest in a player like Maclin, instead of projecting greater expectations on Sanders, better to begin courting a player like Golden Tate or James Jones.
Stay at home — Speaking of James Jones, the veteran receiver would like to stay in Green Bay, but with a crowded roster at receiver we understand why the Packers might not re-sign the 29-year-old. All the same, Jones has worked through his issues with the dropsies and will likely be a moderate priced receiver who can deliver in the right offense. Jones was on the NFL Network’s Around the League and talked about the idea of landing with his old team or the Colts or Chargers … sadly … no word on the Jets.
Bye-bye Birdie — With the Bills backing the Brinks truck up for Aaron Williams on Wednesday, it would seem that Jairus Byrd will in fact walk from Buffalo as a free agent. Would the Jets be interested? They have the money and the need for a coverage safety … if they aren’t, they should be.
Rent-a-receiver — Jermichael Finley is seeking to return to football, and the Jets are in need of renting some talent for their offense in the interim as they add in pieces in varying stages of productivity through the NFL Draft in May. Finley is set to get his medical clearance to play football again “very soon” according to his agent and seems to have a line of teams interested in bringing him in. A short-term, yet slightly paunchy contract might fit the bill for a player like Finley.
Roberts on the rise? — Yesterday on the podcast, NFL insider Tony Pauline told us he expects the Jets to show interest in 24 year old free agent Andre Roberts. Roberts put up more than 700 yards with the Cardinals in 2013, ranking 82nd by ProFootballFocus and 75th by Football Outsiders. At this point, Roberts has learned the NFL game and might be a third receiver at best right now but could definitely add a level of production to the Jets offense when combined with other moves in free agency or the NFL Draft.
Point of no return — Devin Hester won’t be back in Chicago, Dexter McCluster looks to be moving on from KC. Teams looking for special teams returners (like the Jets) might consider either of these players … as long as they don’t expect to get almost any value out of them on offense.
Cut the Champ — Champ Bailey was finally released last night by the Broncos, which seems to have made Bailey soften his stance on playing safety. It’s an interesting footnote, but I don’t expect the Jets to be in the mix for a player like Bailey, who wants to go begrudgingly to the position in which he is now most suited.
The Jets announced they have re-signed CBs Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls.
Lankster was due to be an unrestricted free agent by Tuesday. He was second on the team with 20 special teams tackles in 2013.
Walls was set to be a restricted free agent. He had 24 tackles and five defended passes, playing in all 16 games last season with the Jets.
I’m pleased with these two moves. Bringing back Lankster for special teams purposes alone was vitally important but, as regular readers will know, I still believe he can contribute on defense as well. He’s also a popular member of the team and the Jets will be glad to have been able to bring him back because there was apparently interest from several other teams around the league. Walls held his own for the most part whenever he was called upon last year and is an ideal candidate for a backup role. He would have been a restricted free agent, but was unlikely to be tendered.
Each of these players bring different things to the table. Walls has excellent recovery speed, reactions and timing, whereas Lankster is physical and excels in press coverage.
One other cornerbacker – Aaron Berry – remains a pending unrestricted free agent. I wonder if the fact they’ve re-signed Walls and Lankster means he will be gone. Berry has arguably been better in the slot than either of these players in his career so far, but is coming off a torn ACL suffered early in camp. Perhaps the Jets will wait until they can determine how his recovery is going before they make that call.
With free agency set to get underway in just under a week, the Jets are off to an early start, making a depth move via a waiver claim:
The 25-year old Patrick was a third round pick of the New Orleans Saints three years ago. He moved on to San Diego last year, where he started four games (albeit due to injuries). Patrick is 5-11, 191 pounds and ran a 4.48 forty at Louisville’s pro day in 2011.
Patrick began last season as a nickel back, seeing plenty of playing time in the slot. Later on in the year, he started four games as injuries began to take their toll on the Chargers’ secondary. He had one interception, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble, but ended the year on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in December.
In truth, Patrick’s numbers are not very impressive at first glance. Quarterbacks have had a rating of well over 100 when throwing his way over the past two seasons. Last year, he gave up a completion on 77.6% of his targets – tied for second worst among all NFL corners with a snap count of over 25% (per PFF). He gave up 14.7 yards per catch, but did not get beaten for a touchdown. This was an improvement over 2012, when he was beaten for five scores.
He’s obviously a player who was thought to have some upside when entering the league in 2011 and the Jets will be throwing him into the mix this Summer. He joins the likes of Ras-I Dowling, Ben Ijalana and Jaiquawn Jarrett as former 2011 picks the Jets have picked up in recent times.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t a move that the Jets have made to address a key need, just a depth move that gives them someone with NFL experience and upside to compete for a roster spot next season. The Jets will assume Patrick’s existing contract, which was set to pay him a (non-guaranteed) minimum salary with a workout bonus this year for a total cap hit of $700K.
Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett chat with Tony Pauline of Draftinsider.net to cover everything you need to know about the Jets offseason as Gang Green moves from the combine towards free agency and the draft.
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Will Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate reach free agency? Tate told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM’s NFL Radio that he hasn’t heard too much from the Seahawks, despite being listed among GM John Schneider’s list of offseason priorities.
“Right now it’s been pretty chill. I haven’t heard too much.” Tate said on Sirius XM’s NFL Radio, via PFT. “I’ve kind of just trusted in my agent and him being good at his work. Todd [France] has had some great deals in the past and so I’m letting him handle it. Just trying to stay stress free and really enjoying being a Super Bowl champ.”
Tate is waiting his turn while the Seahawks work to re-sign Michael Bennett and even so Tate said he’d be willing to take a home team discount to stay. Still, with the Super Bowl that Percy Harvin had and after all that the Seahawks invested in Harvin last year, it seems like Seattle is more than content to let Tate slide.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
The baseline for whatever deal Tate should get is likely to be the Riley Cooper contract. Tate has been more productive over his career and posted career highs in 2013 with 64 catches, 898 yards, and five scores while averaging more than 10 yards per punt return.
Tate should earn more than $5 million per year and would be a big help to a Jets offense in need of more production in the passing game. Tate is among the best players in the league in yards after the catch and yards after contact. Most quarterbacks would enjoy working with such an aggressive receiver.
Chase Stuart, one of the blogosphere’s more thoughtful analysts, writes about Geno Smith at his blog, Football Perspective. By comparing Smith’s strong finish to the season with other rookies that finished well, he concludes that there are some positive signs that there could be good things to come.
However, that comes with a caveat:
For Smith, the way quarterbacks like Foles, Manning, Bledsoe, Garcia, and Palmer finished their rookie years is a promising sign; however, I admit to still being a bit skeptical. In Smith’s case, his “early season” numbers are dragged down by a horrible November, not necessarily by a bad start to the season. Smith didn’t show steady progress throughout the year, he was just inconsistent and finished well; that would lend more credibility to the “splits happen” theory than Smith “figuring out the game as the season moved on.”
He does, however, concede that Smith’s chances of developing will be helped by the Jets having a healthy and upgrading receiving corps in 2014 and beyond.
Either way, it’s a fascinating study that you should go and read in full.
In the comments section yesterday, we had an interesting discussion about whether Smith’s last four games were better than any four game stretch Mark Sanchez had ever put up. While Sanchez has several three
game stretches that far outstrip what Smith did in those last four games, he seemed to fall short of sustaining that level of play for four games in a row. However, we reached a consensus that the four games from week two to week five in 2010 (four wins including all three division opponents, three straight games with a rating over 100) trumps Geno’s 2013 finish.
The Jets will be hoping that Smith can build on his good finish. That’s assuming, of course, that they’re planning to move forward with him as a starter.