Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News reports that the Jets are negotiating with Jeff Cumberland, the team’s pending free agent tight end.
UPDATE: Joe Caporoso of TurnOnTheJets.com says the contract is already a done deal.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
Jeff Cumberland is familiar with the Jets offense and is a solid pass catching option for the team. To his credit he has steadily been getting better as a blocker, which has always been the concern about his play. He might never see gaudy stats like Jimmy Graham or Gronk, he has value on a Jets without many serious threats at the receiving skill positions. To his credit (and the blame of the offense) Cumberland led the team in touchdowns with four in 2013. There’s no reason that the Jets and Cumberland shouldn’t get a sensible deal done before the start of free agency that could stand to make both sides happy.
That said, Cumberland has had the opportunity to demonstrate he can be the team’s top man and it hasn’t crystallized yet, even after five years. We fully expect the Jets to be in the market for a longer-term pass-catching threat in the Draft this coming May. While it might not be as consistently deep a class as last year’s, there are some excellent players that might better match up with the Jets draft board this time around.
TJB Friday Chat – 2pm ET
Join us at 2:00pm ET for our weekly TJB chat.
In order to access the room, you must now sign up for a chatzy account at Chatzy.com – click where it says log in/sign up in the top right hand corner. Obviously if you registered already, you can log into your existing account. You will then be able to access the room at the usual address – Chatzy.com/TJB where this week’s password is ticktock.
Apologies for this extra requirement, but it will allow us to moderate the chat more effectively and prevent any abuse or vulgarity. The action gets underway at 2:00pm ET.
Earlier in the week, DraftInsider’s Tony Pauline was on the podcast and we talked a little about the Jets plans for free agency and any rumblings he might have been hearing. While he was a little hesitant to tip off too much, here’s something Tony wrote since we spoke on the podcast about the Jets and a rumored return to a ground and pound for 2014 that could have lasting effects for the team and Rex Ryan.
The New York Jets are returning to a more run oriented offense in 2014 in an attempt to exploit their strengths and lessen the load on Geno Smith. I’m told the game plan is to try and keep Smith under 20 passes per game. Part of the plan is to keep continuity on the offensive line, which is why they’ve made resigning right tackle Austin Howard a priority. At the same time I’m told the team views re-signing veteran guard Willie Colon as a last resort and will look to sign a player at the position via free agency. Names that make the most sense include Zane Beadles of the Denver Broncos and Geoff Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
I really liked Colon, but understand the Jets might be looking to move on. This news also jives with what Rich Cimini shared on Twitter
this morning. As far as the bigger picture, if the Jets aren’t going to go out and get Mike Vick, I understand why after an inconsistent season of quarterback play that Rex Ryan would be hesitant to put his future in the hands of an unstable starting quarterback … Geno Smith or otherwise.
What ever happened to Rex and his love of the pistol? Uh oh …
There’s a lot of free agency and the draft to play out, but if this report is true, we have to wonder if Rex is bunkering back into his old ball control ways …
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the next few days, we’ll be revisiting a few key positions in which the Jets might invest during the free agency period. Here’s a look at the players who the Jets might be interested in with the initial period of free agency beginning Saturday morning.
Below are our non-scientific rankings of players we think can come to the Jets and most impact the team per dollar spent. Consider them a “bang for the buck” type ranking system.
1) Donte Whitner (SF) — “Hitner” has been one of the most violent safeties in the game with some massive hits, most recently playing clean up with one of the best defenses in the league. Whitner has plus run-stuffing skills but his ballhawking and coverage is some of the best in the league. At age 28, Whitner will still be looking for a good pay day ($6-8 million APY), but his skillset looks like the right type for what the Jets need most in their secondary. We’re sure playing in San Francisco might set the bar high for Whitner in terms of getting a contract and playing for a contender, but a player of his skill could be the missing piece for a team like the Jets.
2) Ed Reed (NYJ) — I know that some will hate that he’s ranked here, but on a “bang for your buck” it’s hard to beat league minimum for a slowing down but still future Hall of Famer. Reed had a few botched plays that might have soured fans on his ability to contribute, but Reed was getting better over the final few weeks and might be a reasonable, cheap and known commodity for Rex Ryan and John Idzik to bring back. Even if it might not be a popular move, Reed still has some football left in him before he hangs up his cleats. If Reed were to return to New York, expect a very light or even minimum level deal.
3) Jairus Byrd (BUF) — Byrd is my favorite player in this free agent class at any position, but he is going to ride his status to one helluva payday. Byrd is an instinctual playmaker with some of the best coverage skills in the league. The former Bill has great ballhawking skills and it is extremely rare to see players this good reach free agency. While he holds up against the run, he is at his best in coverage. Byrd is rumored to be looking for $10 million annually. Rex Ryan has historically devalued safeties since joining the Jets so adding a player like Byrd would be like getting in a Gallardo after driving a minivan for five years. Expect many teams to make inquiries and compete for his services.
4) T.J. Ward (CLE) — Ward is at his absolute best as an extra run-stuffer but he has enough versatility to drop in coverage. Ryan covets safeties with the ability to do both well and Ward would be a fine fit for a Ryan scheme. Ward won’t garner the same type of contract as Byrd, but it might not be far ($7-9 million APY) off.
5) Chris Clemons (MIA) — Clemons has been a solid journeyman and seems unable to get the long-term deal he’d prefer. While he’s not a long-term fit for the Jets, he’s much better suited in coverage than in against the run … not a problem for a Jets team that has Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett already under contract.
6) Louis Delmas (DET) — Delmas might have injury and durability issues that will cause teams to balk at large or long-term deals, but he would be in the same mold as Clemons in that he’s best suited in a coverage role. It’s not an optimal fit for Rex Ryan in that he lacks the desired versatility, but he better rounds out the group. To read more of this story, click here
Bloggers, media and sport fans used to heap scorn on Bleacher Report, mainly due to some questionable user-generated content that damaged the site’s reputation in its infancy. However, since their big money deal with Turner 18 months ago, they’ve added some talented and respected names as featured writers and a great deal of their content is now well worth checking out.
One of the featured writers they added to their roster was draft scouting guru and former TJB Podcast guest Matt Miller, who – along with several other film junkies – is spearheading the B/R NFL 1000 project, where they attempt to rank the NFL’s top 1,000 players. The project is now into its third year and they’ve just started releasing this year’s results. For more on how the project works go here.
In our third installment, we look at their rankings for the center and guard positions. To look back at the previous updates go here and here.
As you’ll recall, their rankings for the Jets’ starters at tackle (and quarterback and fullback) were not kind, so surely that must mean that the interior line is where their strength lies. Indeed, these rankings are more generous than the previous ones, although still far from glowing.
Nick Mangold ranks 16 out of the 34 best centers in the league. At guard, Willie Colon is a creditable 26 out of the top 70 guards. Vladimir Ducasse is down in 53 and Brian Winters doesn’t make the list. Former Jet Matt Slauson is actually ranked 6.
On Mangold, who was actually ranked one place above Max Unger, who he replaced in this year’s Pro Bowl, they came to the following conclusions:
At 30 years of age, Mangold is showing signs of physical decline. He wasn’t one of the best centers in the league in 2013, but he still has a lot of value as a pass protector.
Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.
To read more of this story, click here
The Jets are expected to pick up Mo Wilkerson’s fifth-year option (Mehta).
As part of the collective bargaining agreement, all players signed in 2011 signed four-year deals with an option for a fifth year. Wilkerson is entering his fourth year in the league.
The team is also talking to Wilkerson about a long-term deal, but nothing has come of that yet.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
There’s a fine line between abiding by the league-set structures for teams to benefit from initial rookie contracts and appeasing super stars to avoid ugly contract standoffs as we have recently seen between the Jets and Darrelle Revis.
Re-doing Wilkerson’s deal early would be seen as a sign of good will between the team and the player, but with two years left under control the Jets might not be in a rush to get a deal done.
We’re sure given the choice, Wilkerson would rather make more than less, but seems reasonable enough to know that his massive payday is coming if he focuses on his day job first and foremost.
The Jets have never been a team that hoards cap space, so if the Jets are moving slowly on re-doing Wilkerson’s deal, then one would hope the money they might otherwise allocate there will be utilized wisely elsewhere in the myriad of holes and depth issues the team has as we enter the free agency.
Per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, the Jets could be set to get in the mix for veteran tight end John Carlson, who was released by the Vikings last week.
The 29-year old signed a five year, $25m contract with the Vikings two seasons ago, but was a big disappointment. He had just forty catches in two seasons in Minnesota, although 32 of them were last year. After being drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft, he had 106 catches and 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Seahawks, but just 71 catches and three touchdowns in three seasons since then.
Carlson provides a big target at 6-5, but isn’t known for his blocking. Despite his reduction in productivity over the past few years, he did show the ability to contribute last November in a come-from-behind win over the Redskins where he caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
It’s unlikely Carlson will ever rediscover the level of productivity he achieved earlier in his career, but he is a player John Idzik must be familiar with from his time in Seattle, so the fact they’re bringing him in for a look suggests he believes Carlson must have something left in the tank.
As a released player, Carlson wouldn’t count as a qualifying UFA addition for compensatory pick purposes and the Jets don’t need to wait until free agency begins if they want to sign him.
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?