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Friday, January 28, 2011
Jets trying to tackle busy 2011 offseason

By Tim Graham

David Harris
Free-agent linebacker David Harris has led the Jets in tackles each of the past two seasons.
New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum held a news conference Friday to wrap up the 2010 season and address several issues moving forward.

Some highlights with my thoughts:

The Jets probably won't re-sign any of their players before the collective bargaining agreement expires March 4. This probably is the most prudent approach. The Jets would benefit from knowing the new salary cap structure rather than simply guessing on whether or not their players will fit under it. Teams also would prefer to know how free agency will be determined under the next CBA. Right now, we can't say for sure who will be restricted or unrestricted or what veteran minimum salaries will be.

Tannenbaum hopes to keep all three free-agent receivers: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith. I'm skeptical the Jets can pull it off. All are coming off big years, and it will be difficult to match all offers from other teams. But if the Jets can pull it off, the happiest man in the organization will be Mark Sanchez. Tannenbaum declined to speculate on whether or not the Jets would be interested in a post-prison Plaxico Burress.

Free-agent inside linebacker David Harris "remains a top priority for us." Harris, to me, is the most important free agent for the Jets. It's much easier to find a receiver in free agency than a stud linebacker such as Harris. He has led the Jets in tackles each of the past two seasons and makes all the on-field defensive calls. I highly doubt the Jets let him get away.

Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez has the second most starts in the AFC East, but who will he be throwing to next season?
Brian Schottenheimer will be back as offensive coordinator. I realize some Jets fans are disgusted with Schottenheimer's play-calling in the AFC Championship Game, but he's a gem. Deep back-to-back runs into the postseason with a raw quarterback is a major accomplishment. And let's not forget he had the Jets humming with Brett Favre at quarterback until Favre's right arm started falling apart in 2008.

Sanchez will get "a couple of opinions" on his injured throwing shoulder before deciding if he'll have surgery. The Jets don't want to cut on their quarterback unless they have to. But the sooner they make a decision, the better so Sanchez can begin the rehab process. One of the overlooked traits Sanchez has developed in his two years is toughness. He has taken quite a few shots in the pocket and on the run, but he stays on the field.

Tannenbaum expects LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor to be on the 2011 roster. Tomlinson and Taylor are under contract, but the Jets could release them. Tomlinson lost effectiveness as the season wore on, but he can be a quality backup for Shonn Greene and adds value in the passing game as a receiver and in blitz protection. Taylor clearly is nearing the end of the line, and he knows it. But he wasn't a liability and provided leadership Tannenbaum said was "really hard to quantify."

First-round draft choice Kyle Wilson's future is "one of our paramount objectives for the offseason." The day the Jets drafted Wilson 29th overall, head coach Rex Ryan declared Wilson would be their nickelback and a great punt returner. Even with Darrelle Revis absent all summer because of a contract dispute, Wilson couldn't seize the opportunity and fell behind Drew Coleman on the depth chart. Tannenbaum cited inconsistency as Wilson's biggest problem.

Right tackle Damien Woody and fullback Tony Richardson probably won't be back. Tannenbaum didn't make those statements, but that's what I read between the lines. Woody turned 33 during the season and recently underwent Achilles surgery. He also missed games with a knee injury. Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse could take over for him. The Jets cut Richardson before the season and brought him back. They also have fullback John Conner waiting in the wings.

Vernon Gholston sounds like a goner. The sixth overall pick in 2008 was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Tannenbaum diplomatically said the Jets "are going to see if there's anything else to try, but he has been given his share of opportunities, and it could be time to move on." Move over Mike Mamula.