Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comHere’s a few quick hits with the free agent negotiating period now just two hours away.
New Yorleans? — The Saints are expected to release Darren Sproles. This on the heels of reports that the Saints were trying to trade him. Cutting Sproles would save the Saints $3.5 million in cap space, but if the Saints do drop him, it adds another veteran change of pace running back to an already crowded field of running backs. Would the Jets be interested? Sproles would be a different type of back than either Ivory or Powell, adding an element of much needed pass catching that was lacking out of the Jets 2013 backfield. Sproles isn’t the difference maker he once was and teams are figuring out ways to slow him down better than in the past, but given a narrowly defined role as a pass-catching back he might have use.
Care-less-on — John Carlson signed with the Cardinals today for a deal worth more than $4 million for two years. There were reports among the Jets beat that the Jets were said to be interested in Carlson, mostly because of Carlson’s and Idzik’s ties to Seattle — but any real interest by the Jets seemed weak from the outset. As a veteran with concussion problems, Carlson doesn’t offer the Jets much more than they already have on the roster … he neither excels as a blocker nor as a receiver. Better (though riskier) options like Jermichael Finley and Brandon Pettigrew are available and the Jets were wise to pass on Carlson.
In the wind — Cornerback Alterraun Verner and the Titans don’t seem to be hammering out a last-minute contract as free agency approaches. There’s been no chatter about the Jets apparent interest in the cornerback, but any dabbling with a player like him or Aqib Talib could tell us quite a bit about the trust the Jets are placing in last year’s ninth overall draft pick Dee Milliner.
Need a quick primer for free agency? NFL.com’s Around The League had a number of great articles
- Free Agency 101: Top 101 NFL free agents for 2014
- Ten best free-agent bargains
- Free agency overview: What positions are the deepest?
The Jets will sign TE Jeff Cumberland to a three-year deal (Mehta, March 7).
The 26-year-old Cumberland had 26 receptions for 398 and four touchdowns in 2013.
Mehta reports that while the organization concedes the team needs as much help as it can find, the team is “bullish” on Cumberland’s ability to increase his productivity. Additionally, Mehta reported that “team decision makers are high on Zach Sudfield’s potential” and that the team has had “internal discussions” on Brandon Pettigrew, Ed Dickson and Scott Chandler.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
While there’s no word yet on the financial terms of the deal, retaining Cumberland is a sound move by the organization and we’re glad to see Cumby back in the mix for the foreseeable future.
As more and more teams move to “12” personnel packages on their offense, the Jets now have Cumberland and Sudfield at a minimum for such groupings and if they dabble in free agency might get significantly better by adding one of the players mentioned above in the team’s internal discussions or through their rumored interest in Jermichael Finley.
As we mentioned earlier today, signing Cumberland doesn’t preclude more moves at this position. Tight end is an easy position for which the Jets can stand on the talent they already know and like and upgrade quickly with a Pettigrew, Finley or even Chandler type without having to break the bank to do so.
While this is a transaction that is seen as practically inevitable, there are conflicting reports today on whether Santonio Holmes has been released.
Following an earlier report from Turn on the Jets that he had been released, the New York Post’s Brian Costello checked into it:
We’ll wait for official confirmation, but this may simply be a case where a decision has already been made but the paperwork has yet to be filed rather than an erroneous report.
Even if (or when) Holmes is (or was) released, the small possibility exists that the team is open to bringing him back at a much lower salary, but most of the media seems to be operating on the assumption that this won’t happen. The team has remained typically tight-lipped on the subject.
Business has obviously picked up over the last couple of days though, so this is probably just another transaction you can expect to hear confirmation of in the days to come.
In addition to the news about the Jets and Jeff Cumberland in “serious negotiations” the Jets, it seems that the Jets might also have some interest in Jermichael Finley, by many the top tight end free agent in this year’s group.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
The Jets interest in Finley is in no way at odds with any desire to bring back Jeff Cumberland. Cumby has established himself as a good second option, but there is a gap if they want more production out of him.
Finley had a neck injury that will keep teams from investing much into him and it has recently been reported that the former Packer is “close” to getting his medical clearances. While some teams might be squeamish, the Jets experience with Kellen Winslow Jr. might make them bolder than most. Finley is by far the best player in a mediocre class of free agent tight ends, so would be worth a serious run thanks to the Jets more than generous cap space.
Either way, both moves don’t preclude them from still drafting a long-term solution in the mid rounds. Cumberland and Finley can provide value here and now while a mid-round draftee will take a little time in acclimating to the NFL game.
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.