Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC East [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
How long can Jets afford to stay intact?


ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini broaches an intriguing and ominous topic on his blog.

In light of the San Francisco 49ers giving linebacker Patrick Willis a gargantuan five-year, $50 million contract, Cimini wondered how the New York Jets will address their slew of young superstars.

Willis was drafted in 2007, the same year as Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and David Harris, and a year after center Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

Cimini writes:
The Jets have sent a dangerous message to their locker room this offseason, dumping well-respected, productive veterans such as Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones. Rex Ryan always talks about how he wants his guys to "play like Jets." Well, Faneca and Jones played like Jets and what happened? They received pink slips even though Faneca made his ninth straight Pro Bowl and Jones rushed for 1,400 yards. There's also the case of Leon Washington, who basically gave a leg for the organization and was sent packing in a trade.

The organization needs to show a willingness to take care of its own. The Jets have done it in the past, giving rich extensions to players like Jerricho Cotchery and Kerry Rhodes (gone), but the latest perception is that they’d rather take on one-year, hired guns than develop and pay homegrown talent.

The Jets are loading up for a run at the Super Bowl in 2010, bringing in several players who might be around for only one year. While so much focus has been placed on the newcomers such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Jason Taylor and Antonio Cromartie, core players -- the kinds of pillars to keep around for as many years as possible -- also are reaching the end of their respective deals.