Religious connotation aside, it must seem like the team put a huge sign over the New York Jets headquarters in Florham Park indicating players bolt in the opposite direction. The free agency period began on Tuesday, and the Jets kicked it off with the official signing of former Jaguars starter David Garrard. Yes, he hasn’t played in a bit… and yes, he’s coming off a knee injury which derailed his chances at the starting job in Miami last season, but he came at a very modest price for the extremely frugal MetLife co-tenant. Reports have Garrard’s contract at a one-year deal for a million dollars, with a 100K signing bonus. For the Jets, who are focused on trimming that number against the salary cap, the nominal contract was most likely the selling point. All kidding aside, maybe Garrard’s first duty as a member of the team should’ve been to close the front door after he walked in… no?!
I thought Mo Wilkerson really came on towards the end of last season due to Sione Po’uha’s reinsertion into the lineup after suffering from back pain which kept him from playing consistently earlier on. The organization didn’t feel the same way I suppose, as the Jets cut Po’uha on Tuesday. Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie restructuring their contracts, plus Lex Hilliard reportedly resigning with the Jets Wednesday, were the only respite in a conga line of former players signing with other teams:
Mike DeVito (DL) was an important cog on the team’s defensive line, but the Jets will need to make do without his services as the six-year pro signed a deal with Kansas City. DeVito inked a three-year deal for $12 million with the Chiefs, leaving starters Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples looking at Damon Harrison for inside support. Those who are regular fans of the NYJ ReSet know I heavily stress line of scrimmage play. I’m not looking for the Jets to bring the heat on every play, but I do believe applying effective pressure is a must on a Rex Ryan defense.
Shonn Greene (RB) wasn’t high on a list of the team’s priorities, but the running game will take a step backwards as he signs a three-year deal with Tennessee. $10 million isn’t a large number as a starter with the Jets, but as a second-fiddle to Chris Johnson, the newest member of the Titans should be thanking his agent! Greene was a solid runner, but rarely had those breakaway runs that highlights are made of. Barely over 1,000 yards his last two seasons (2012: 1063 yds & 2011: 1054 yds), Greene didn’t provide the ground (or the pound) the Jets were looking for.
Yeremiah Bell (S) did an excellent job in his solo season as a member of the Jets. Bell was great in run support, totaling 89 tackles on a team that turned the ‘missed tackle’ into an art form. Bell was brought into New York last season to replace Kerry Rhodes, the same player he will replace in Arizona. Who knows, maybe Rhodes comes back to the bright lights of New York for a second go-around in green and white (I think they have an opening… or two)?
It looks like the goal for GM John Idzik and the front office, is to trim away at that salary cap number until the team has the flexibility it needs to make the moves necessary to turn this sinking ship around. With contract restructuring, player cuts and other transactions, the Jets are about $16 million under the $122 million salary cap. As these players leave, they need to be replaced, and not just their skills on the field… but their value to the team off the field and in meetings. Players like Dustin Keller and Darrelle Revis are almost certainly out the door, leaving the team with fewer and fewer homegrown leaders. Mark Sanchez had his captain’s C taken away (thanks to Holmes), stripped of his starting job (butt fumble) and has David Garrard to beat out, just to see playing time next season. Can’t lead from the bench… or on your back, Mark!
-Joseph Haas, Editor www.HCoftheNYJ.com
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