Monday, May 21, 2012
Catching up on the AFC East
By James Walker
It was not a quiet seven days in the AFC East. Here is my take on several recent events that happened while I was away on vacation:
No. 1: Wes Welker finally signs franchise tender
Walker's take: In one of the final columns I wrote before vacation, I said Welker would be silly to fight the New England Patriots. Many have tried and failed. Welker is no exception. Welker briefly tried anyway by making a series of media appearances, including a trip to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, to win over public opinion. But none of that works with New England. The Patriots are emotionless in negotiations. Business is business. Welker did the smart thing by taking the guaranteed $9.5 million New England is offering. The Patriots may decide later to offer Welker an extension before the season starts, but only if they feel it's best for the team.
No. 2: Yeremiah Bell signs with the Jets
Walker's take: The New York Jets bolstered their safety position with the signing of Bell, who is a solid addition this late in free agency. The problem I have is Bell is similar to fellow free-agent signing LaRon Landry. Both are great tacklers, but the pair struggle in coverage. Will Landry or Bell play free safety and attempt to cover tight ends and receivers going across the middle? Neither is a good option. Eric Smith is probably a little better in coverage, but he's not a viable starter. The Jets did not improve their pass coverage this offseason, which is a major issue.
No. 3: Darrelle Revis and others talk up Tim Tebow
Walker's take: Either the Jets are na´ve to this Tebow situation or they really don't care. But Revis, linebacker Bart Scott, head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are among those who are really talking up Tebow this offseason. They are adding to the already immense hype, saying how great Tebow looks in practice and how his natural leadership already is showing through. I said weeks ago the Jets need to be careful about hyping the backup quarterback. It only makes it tougher on starter Mark Sanchez. The Jets obviously want and expect Sanchez to do well. But if he struggles early, this offseason Tebow talk could come back to haunt the Jets.
No. 4: Patriots meet with Dallas Clark
Walker's take: This is a classic case of Patriot bargain hunting. Does New England need another pass-catching tight end? Absolutely not. The Patriots have two of the league's best in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Clark would be the third tight end, at best, if he could beat out free-agent signing Daniel Fells. But Clark, 32, is still on the market. So the Patriots are not afraid to visit and see if they can get the former Pro Bowler dirt cheap. It would be unnecessary for New England to sign Clark. But the team is trying to add as much talent as possible under the cap and figure it can sort things out later.