AFC East: Kerry Rhodes

Morning take: Tom Brady for MVP?

November, 28, 2012
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Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC East:
  • Should New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady be a favorite for the NFL MVP award?
Morning take: I can’t think of any player performing at a higher level over the past month. Brady has 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions during New England’s five-game winning streak. He’s seeing things at a different speed.
Morning take: Rhodes will return to New York this week as a starter for the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan blasted Rhodes in a recent book, calling him “selfish” and “Hollywood.”
Morning take: It’s hard to tell with the Bills because they never put together any consistency. But an easy schedule provides this team a chance to make amends and finish strong.
Morning take: Miami has the cap room and the draft picks to get rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill some weapons next year. The Dolphins are in a great spot to learn from these meaningful December games and still improve in the offseason.

Rex Ryan's book doesn't tell all, but enough

April, 27, 2011
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When I heard Rex Ryan was working on an autobiography, I wondered what he could put on those pages that we didn't already know.

Ryan has been an open, nearly unabridged book his entire life. It's one of the main reasons he's so beloved by his players and fans. Since he became head coach of the New York Jets two years ago, seemingly every aspect of his life has been reported.

But it turns out Ryan's entertaining style makes "Play Like You Mean It" a page-turner with fresh ideas and revelations.

About the only aspect of his life not illuminated was last year's foot-fetish storyline, but he did comment on the Jets' other prominent scandals that drew league investigations: the Ines Sainz sexual harassment claim and the Sal Alosi sideline trip of Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll.

ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini previewed the book and shared some of the sexier passages.

Ryan gave details about the transition away from Brett Favre, revealed his disgust over Tony Dungy's criticism of his language and knocked former players such as safety Kerry Rhodes and defensive draft bust Vernon Gholston.

Ryan called Rhodes "a selfish-ass guy. He wouldn't work and he was a Hollywood type, flashing and needing attention."

While still defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, Ryan said he warned then-Jets head coach Eric Mangini not to draft Gholston.

"Truth be told, I didn't like the kid coming out of college," Ryan said. "He's a good athlete and a smart guy, but I thought he was a phony."

Ryan also took a dig at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who last year spat how much he hated the Jets.

"I really don't know Tom Brady, but who wouldn't hate him?" Ryan said. "Look at his life. Actually, look at his wife. Every man in America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that."

Camp Confidential: New York Jets

August, 18, 2010
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ESPN.com NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 7

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- There's a healthy chance you're already sick of the New York Jets.

You're sick of their loudmouth coach, sick of their hotshot quarterback, sick of their trash-talking defense, sick of their wheeler-dealer general manager, sick of hearing about their HBO series, sick of their delirious fans.

Get used to it all. They're not going away.

Every team wants to kiss the Lombardi Trophy, but the Jets have drawn the disdain of 31 other teams and their fans by being so cocksure about their plans.

Whether the Jets win a championship or crash and burn on their approach, they'll remain the NFL's most fascinating team in 2010. Win or lose, they're going to be a season-long story.

"That's our own expectations," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said on the first day of training camp at SUNY Cortland. "That's why we feed off of it. It's our own mentality, that Super Bowl-champion mentality. That's what we want, and that's what we're striving for. ... Now, we need to do it every day and prove it."

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireThe Jets are hoping Mark Sanchez has matured as a quarterback heading into his second season.
1. Can Sanchez handle the pressure? There's a lot of skepticism surrounding the man at the controls. Sanchez threw 20 interceptions last year as a rookie. He fumbled 10 times and lost three of them. He was so befuddled at one point, the Jets had to give him a color-coded wristband to help him comprehend the plays.

The Jets hope he matured considerably over the offseason. To help him along as a passer, they added receivers Santonio Holmes and Laveranues Coles and out-of-the-backfield target LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sanchez still has to make the right calls and decisions. Coaches and teammates note his indefatigable work ethic.

And there's no disputing how impressive he appeared down the 2009 homestretch. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer corralled him in time to salvage the season. Although Sanchez had more than 20 attempts in only three games after Thanksgiving, the Jets won six of those eight outings, two of them on the road in the playoffs.

Sanchez will need to shoulder much more responsibility this year. How he handles being the leading man of a Super Bowl contender will determine the Jets' fate.

2. How will Darrelle Revis' holdout affect the season? There's a belief among the Jets their defense will take care of itself. As nose tackle Kris Jenkins pointed out before training camp began, fans swooned when he suffered a season-ending knee injury six games into last season, but the Jets still finished with the NFL's top-rated total defense, scoring defense and pass defense.

Revis, of course, played an integral part. Maybe the most integral part.

All he did was establish himself as the preeminent shutdown cornerback. Revis was so good at shutting down the other team's top receivers, the Jets never had to worry about double-covering. That, in effect, gave them an extra defender to use however they wanted.

The Jets have cornerback depth to help them cope if Revis holds out into the season. They traded for cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a sensational cover corner (though not nearly the run defender Revis is). Dwight Lowery and first-round draft pick Kyle Wilson are capable.

But none of them are as good as Revis is. His return would provide invaluable peace of mind.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
AP Photo/Bill KostrounSantonio Holmes was just one of the Jets' high-profile offseason acquisitions.
3. Did the Jets ruin a good thing with too many roster moves? The Jets came within a half of the Super Bowl, taking a lead into the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts -- in Lucas Oil Stadium, no less. It was a young team on the make, the type of roster you'd like to keep as intact as possible.

Or so you would think. Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum got rid of a few starters with big voices in the locker room. Gone were the lead running back on the NFL's top ground attack (Thomas Jones), a perennial Pro Bowl left guard (Alan Faneca), a starting safety (Kerry Rhodes) and a respected kicker (Jay Feely).

The Jets made some high-profile acquisitions, too. But perhaps the two biggest moves, Holmes and Cromartie, were poaching other teams' misfits. They also signed Tomlinson and outside linebacker Jason Taylor, classy veterans but with question marks about what they have left.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Other than references to his nickname, not much was written or said about Kentucky fullback John Conner when the Jets drafted him in the fifth round. The Jets had re-signed Tony Richardson for a 17th season, and they wouldn't bring him back if he wasn't going to keep his job, right?

Richardson might be on the bubble. Ryan has been diplomatic in speaking about Richardson's value to the Jets as a locker-room leader, but there's no doubt Ryan loves The Terminator. Conner has been a thumper in camp. Conner will make the team, and keeping two fullbacks is a luxury.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Revis' holdout is a shame on multiple levels. Both sides are standing by principles that are fully understandable. Revis is the NFL's best defender and wants to be paid as such. The Jets, meanwhile, have a signed contract that lasts three more years and refuse to consider as any kind of standard the Oakland Raiders' ridiculous deal with Nnamdi Asomugha, the league's highest-paid cornerback.

Unless they can reach a compromise or the Jets win the Super Bowl without him, both sides will forever regret this dispute. The Jets have a chance to win their first championship in four decades, and Revis might never get this kind of shot to win a title regardless of where he finishes his career.

OBSERVATION DECK
Vernon Gholston
William Perlman/The Star Ledger/US PresswireNew York is comfortable with Vernon Gholston at defensive end in passing situations.
  • An overlooked roster maneuver that could prove significant is the decision not to bring back trusty long-snapper James Dearth. The Jets brought in youngster Tanner Purdum, who has been inconsistent. Jets kicker Nick Folk doesn't need his rhythm disrupted.
  • I'm not saying Braylon Edwards' problems with drops have been solved, but he displayed great hands in the practices I saw. Maybe receivers coach Henry Ellard has helped him figure it out.
  • Undrafted rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland looks like the total package at times. He's 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at his Illinois pro day. He does make an occasional mental error, but he popped out in team drills.
  • Shonn Greene will have to catch a few passes to keep defenses honest. Greene has terrible hands, something he and Ryan have joked about. But if he's going to be the featured back, he'll need to grab one here or there.
  • I'm hesitant to believe Ryan's glowing comments on Vernon Gholston two training camps in a row, but I will say Gholston seems to have a role he can handle as a defensive end on passing downs. He can just chase the quarterbacks. But after two years at outside linebacker, he is versatile enough to drop into coverage if the Jets want to get tricky.
  • It's fun to listen to backup quarterback Mark Brunell bark out the signals. He's a master of the hard count, a skill Sanchez is trying to learn. When Brunell walks to the line of scrimmage, there's a good chance the equipment managers will commit a false start.
  • Overheard from a fan along the rail at SUNY Cortland: "Check out No. 58 in his sweatpants. You know Shonn Greene's going to run him over. Guy's got no shot." Sweatpants in the sweltering heat aside, Jets fans need to remember No. 58 is starting outside linebacker Bryan Thomas. He swapped out of his usual No. 99 for Taylor.
  • I predict the second-most important defensive acquisition -- behind Cromartie -- won't be Taylor, but safety Brodney Pool. The free-agent pickup from Cleveland is dangerous on a blitz and will get his hands on some passes.
  • The New England Patriots didn't make a mistake when they dumped quarterback Kevin O'Connell last year, 16 months after drafting him in the third round. The Detroit Lions claimed him on waivers and traded him to the Jets. They kept him on the roster as their fourth quarterback. He would appear to be in line for a promotion to third string, but O'Connell has looked no better this summer than he did when he was fresh out of San Diego State.

Kris Jenkins talks about whine and women

July, 20, 2010
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New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins beamed into the NFL Network studios and delivered some pointed remarks about Jets fans and some former teammates.

"NFL Total Access" host Rich Eisen asked Jenkins to advise nervous Jets fans how to approach a season full of expectations but also question marks because of such key departures as running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, guard Alan Faneca and safety Kerry Rhodes.

[+] EnlargeKris Jenkins
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesJets' nose tackle Kris Jenkins has a message for departed teammates: "We've had some real men come in and step in for the women that we lost."
"Suck it up. That's what y'all being doing so far," Jenkins said of the fans. "Look, you've got to understand that this is football, and if I could make a public-service announcement, I will say this: New York fans, we love you. This is Kris Jenkins. I am a little bit of a clown in my free time, so if I hurt your feelings I'm really not going to apologize because this is my time right now. ...

"If we win, then you get all your dreams coming true. If we lose, then you all get to do what you've been doing for a long time and talk about us until you basically run us out of the city. So you're going to get what you want either way. But we're going for a Super Bowl. So sit back, enjoy the ride. We're planning on doing it big."

Jenkins continued with a curious and disparaging comment about players who have left -- without naming names.

"We have great guys who have come in to step up, to fill in the void of some of these big losses that we have had this season," Jenkins said.

"Then in some other cases, we've had some real men come in and step in for the women that we lost. So we're going to be OK. Don't worry about it."

Jenkins probably was being that aforementioned clown, but Eisen didn't follow up with another question to clarify who Jenkins was referring to. Some players left on rougher terms than others. Many Jets weren't pleased to see guys like Jones, Faneca and kicker Jay Feely leave.

Rhodes would be a good guess as to one player Jenkins meant. But Jenkins did say "women" plural.

For the record, Jets who were on the final 2009 roster but not currently with the team (in addition to those listed above) are receiver Wallace Wright, defensive tackler Howard Green, defensive end Marques Douglas, linebackers Marques Murrell and Ryan Fowler, cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, special-teams ace Larry Izzo and long snapper James Dearth.

Douglas reportedly will re-sign with the Jets later this week.

Big Question: Top AFC East move?

July, 6, 2010
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What was the top offseason move in the AFC East?

We've hit a rare dead period in the NFL, when all the teams have sent their players home to enjoy the summer for a few weeks. Offseason programs are complete. Training camps will begin at the end of the month.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireBrandon Marshall's trade to Miami was one of the biggest offseason moves in the AFC East.
Perfect time to review all of the offseason moves. With activity slowed to a crawl, we can safely evaluate the ones that should have the most impact on the upcoming season.

I've taken five decisions from each AFC East club and ranked them based on how important they'll prove to be in 2010.

But this list merely is to provide a reminder of what has happened the past few months. I'd like to see your list in the comments section below. Nominate your favorite move, give me your top five or rank them all.

NOTE: I was remiss in leaving out one of the bigger moves, but thanks to some friendly reminders in the comments section, I have corrected the list by inserting the Dolphins' switch at defensive coordinator at No. 4.

1. Dolphins trade two second-round draft picks for receiver Brandon Marshall.

2. Jets trade a third-round pick for cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

3. Patriots use franchise tag to ensure nose tackle Vince Wilfork's return.

4. Dolphins fire defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni and hire Mike Nolan.

5. Dolphins sign inside linebacker Karlos Dansby.

6. Bills name Buddy Nix general manager and hire head coach Chan Gailey.

7. Jets trade a fifth-round pick for receiver Santonio Holmes.

8. Bills switch to 3-4 defense.

9. Jets pass on re-signing kicker Jay Feely and sign pass-rusher Jason Taylor.

10. Bills draft Clemson running back C.J. Spiller ninth overall.

11. Patriots clean house at tight end, sign Alge Crumpler, draft Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

12. Dolphins move Randy Starks from defensive end to nose tackle.

13. Patriots sign defensive end Gerard Warren.

14. Jets sign safety Brodney Pool, trade Kerry Rhodes.

15. Patriots release outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.

16. Dolphins release outside linebacker Joey Porter.

17. Bills sign defensive end Dwan Edwards.

18. Jets replace running back Thomas Jones with LaDainian Tomlinson.

19. Bills sign inside linebacker Andra Davis.

20. Patriots sign receiver Torry Holt.

Kirwan: Jets, Bills own top five secondaries

June, 24, 2010
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NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan came up with a formula to rank the five best secondaries, and the New York Jets were not No. 1.

Gasp!

Kirwan based his list on a few factors: last year's performance, personnel changes, elite players, safety versatility, quality of the nickelback and depth for a dime package.

The Green Bay Packers came out on top, while the Jets were second despite leading the NFL in pass defense last year and adding former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

The Buffalo Bills, who finished second in pass defense last year, rounded out Kirwan's list.

Neither the New England Patriots nor the Miami Dolphins were among his six honorable mentions either.

Here are Kirwan's summaries:
2. Jets: "They might have been No. 1 if they had kept Kerry Rhodes. They are great at corner with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and in the nickel with Dwight Lowery or rookie Kyle Wilson. They will be a top dime defense. They had the fewest sacks of the five teams that made this list with 31, but they were tops in completion percentage defense and yards per pass attempt allowed."

5. Bills: "I can't believe they let defensive coordinator Perry Fewell go this offseason. They had the second-ranked pass defense, nabbed 28 interceptions, which was second to Green Bay's 30, and only allowed 14 touchdown passes."

Pool poised to impact Jets secondary

May, 21, 2010
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In the winter, Brodney Pool feared his football days were done.

The veteran safety had been diagnosed with multiple concussions, finishing last season with the Cleveland Browns on injured reserve with what might have been his fourth or fifth or however many.

[+] EnlargeBrodney Pool
Al Pereira/Getty ImagesBrodney Pool is grateful the Jets are giving him a chance to play.
The NFL's crackdown on head injuries worried Pool.

"The Browns doctors were telling me 'I don't know if you're going to be cleared to play again,' " Pool said.

Turns out, Pool was good to go -- right to the New York Jets and the NFL's top-rated defense.

I wrote Thursday about Pool getting lost among the Jets' splashy offseason acquisitions. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has had to force Pool's name into the conversation when reporters ask about the arrivals of pass-rusher Jason Taylor and cornerback Antonio Cromarite or offensive weapons LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes.

"I don't care that people are forgetting I'm on the team," Pool told me over the phone. "I'm just going to go out there and show them what I can do. I know I'm a good player, and they brought me in for a reason. As long as you got the head coach saying your name, that's a good thing."

Ryan was able to ask his twin brother, Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, for a scouting report on Pool. The intel was intriguing enough to explore Pool's concussion problems.

The Jets were thrilled to learn Pool's injury history wasn't as bad as initially believed.

When Pool hit free agency, the Jets medical staff checked him out and found almost all of his so-called concussions were misdiagnosed migraine headaches, which he'd suffered since high school. A followup visit with independent sports concussion specialists in Pittsburgh confirmed the Jets' opinion that hard hits or dehydration would trigger migraines that were misinterpreted.

"I'm blessed to be a Jet because a few months ago I didn't know if I still was going to be playing football," Pool said.

Pool claims his revised medical report now has him down for one concussion suffered as a rookie in 2005. He said he manages the migraines with high dosages of vitamin B, changes to his diet and a sleep schedule.

He's confident his headache issues are behind him. He was enjoying the best season of his career in 2009, snagging four interceptions in 11 games before missing the final five. He said he was ready to return a week after the Browns placed him on IR, but once a player is sent there, his season is over.

Pool will fill Kerry Rhodes' old spot in the Jets' impressive secondary. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine recently told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini that "Brodney will play the run better. I think he's a better tackler. I think he'll stick his face in there more than Kerry." Eric Smith also will see a healthy amount of snaps, with Jim Leonhard returning as the other starting safety.

"I have an important role to play, and I'm going to be ready for it," Pool said. "I have a lot of experience and have played in a lot of different kinds of defenses. I've made plays, but a lot of times it went unnoticed because my team wasn't winning and they would be swept under the rug.

"I'm just the kind of guy where I'm going to give it my all on every play and be the best team player I can be."

On the radar: Brodney Pool

May, 20, 2010
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NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

Yoohoo. Over here. Don't forget this guy.

[+] EnlargeBrodney Pool
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireThe Jets acquired safety Brodney Pool during the offseason.
His name's Brodney Pool, and he plays safety for the New York Jets.

So many of the Jets' offseason acquisitions roll off the tongue. LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor. With the focus on those decorated newcomers, Pool largely has been forgotten.

He shouldn't be an afterthought.

The Jets are expecting a big year from Pool, a sixth-year pro the Cleveland Browns parted with over concussion concerns. The Jets signed him to a one-year contract worth about $1.3 million and view him as an upgrade to Kerry Rhodes, whom they traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a fourth-round draft pick this year and a seventh-rounder next year.

"Brodney will play the run better," Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told ESPNNewYork.com. "I think he's a better tackler. I think he'll stick his face in there more than Kerry."

Pool, the 34th overall draft choice in 2005, was plagued with concussion problems in Cleveland. He was diagnosed with at least four of them and, after intercepting four passes in 11 games, spent the final five games last year on injured reserve.

But the Jets' medical staff determined Pool also gets migraine headaches that might have made the situation seem worse than it really is.

Now we know why the Jets didn't identify safety as a need position entering the draft.

If Pool can stay healthy, he could have more of an impact on the Jets season than any of those other big-ticket arrivals.

How long can Jets afford to stay intact?

May, 5, 2010
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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.

Closer AFC East look at blogger mock draft

April, 19, 2010
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ESPN.com's eight division bloggers put our heads together and, while generating about two volts of brainpower, came up with our official Blog Network mock draft.

Each of us selected for the four teams we cover, passing the list around and choosing from the players left on the board when a team went on the clock.

Every pick includes the blogger's rationale for making it.

9. Buffalo Bills: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame quarterback. There was a run on offensive tackles. Three already were off the board. The Bills will have the option to take the best player at several positions, including nose tackle and wide receiver. But they're so lost at quarterback, they might not be able to pass up on Clausen.

12. Miami Dolphins: Dan Williams, Tennessee nose tackle. This was an easy one. The Bills might take Williams, but if he's there when the Dolphins get their first turn, then he'll be attractive. Now that the Dolphins have Brandon Marshall, nose tackle is a glaring need. Jason Ferguson will be suspended for the first eight games, and reserve Paul Soliai isn't talented enough to handle such a crucial position.

22. New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker. The deeper you get into the draft, the more you're taking stabs in the dark. Every spring, a prospect the experts figured to be long gone seems to slide into this area. But I went with Kindle because he fits the Bill Belichick prototype for this position. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, who knows how the Patriots think more than almost anybody, made a compelling case for Kindle.

29. New York Jets: Taylor Mays, USC safety. Mays will be tough to pass up if he's still on the board, and he was in our mock exercise. The Jets need a safety after trading Kerry Rhodes to the Arizona Cardinals. Aside from getting younger on the defensive line, they've addressed almost every other need via trades or free agency. But Mays is a position they can insert into the lineup right away.

Feely blocks Jets' lowball offer, joins Cards

April, 2, 2010
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Three years ago, Jay Feely left the New York Giants as a free agent and signed a handsome deal to kick for the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins went 1-15 that season. The Giants won the Super Bowl.


Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesJets kicker Jay Feely signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals on Friday.
Already, Feely is dreading the possibility he might have left another team on the verge of a championship.

"Man, I'd give up every extra dollar I got from Miami to win the Super Bowl," Feely told me in a phone interview Friday afternoon shortly after his agent signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. The decision closed the door on Feely returning to the New York Jets, a team that came 30 minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl two months ago.

"Hopefully I don't look back in retrospect and have the same thing happen all over again. That would kill me to have it happen twice. But I won't be rooting against the Jets."

Feely wanted to remain with the Jets. He said he could have rejoined the club three days ago if he wanted. But he couldn't bring himself to accept the club's proposal. Feely claimed the Jets offered him a one-year contract for $300,000 less than he made last season.

The Jets signed free-agent Nick Folk in late February, but that didn't necessarily mean the Jets weren't open to Feely's return.

Feely said Jets coach Rex Ryan called him several times since the season ended, most recently over the weekend.

"I know that he wanted me on that team," Feely said. "Whether they believe in Nick Folk that strongly or have a certain dollar amount allotted to that position, I don't know. But the guys that make the decisions financially made the call. I understand that. I accept that. I'll move on.

"I don't take it personally even though I'm disappointed."

Feely will be reunited with safety Kerry Rhodes, who the Jets traded to the Cardinals last month, and former Dolphins teammate Joey Porter. Feely mentioned the Cardinals' leadership and track record as major influences in his decision to move to the desert. Kicking in domes as opposed to the Northeast's winter elements didn't hurt either.

Feely expressed regret over leaving the Jets' locker room, which he described as borderline utopian.

"There's no question that I love that organization," Feely said. "It's a great locker room. The guys on that team are tremendous to be around, a very open and welcoming locker room with a lot of young talent. The foundation is in place for them to be good for a long time.

"The relationship between the coaches and players is unique. It's an ideal fit. The coaches have authority and demand the most, but have the respect of the players, who give their best out of mutual admiration.

"Nobody would want to leave that environment."

Feely's 122 points last year ranked third in Jets history for scoring among kickers. He set a club record with 24 straight field goals and tied a team record with a 55-yarder in Week 8.

Feely converted 30 of his 36 attempts, ranking 17th among regulars at 83.3 percent. He made 12 of 15 attempts from 40 yards and out.

"I got calls from every coach, from [special-teams coordinator] Mike Westhoff to [offensive coordinator] Brian Schottenheimer and Rex," Feely said, "and all of them had awesome things to say.

"I can leave feeling good, knowing that I gave everything I had. I know they respect me as a player and a leader and a man."

AFC East mailbag on your cyberdoormat

March, 22, 2010
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Rob in Arlington, Va., doesn't like how the Patriots have approached the offseason compared to how active the Jets have been. Rob writes "I know it seems ridiculous to say, but aren't the Patriots basically just conceding the division in March?"

Whether you see the AFC runner-up Jets as pulling away from the Patriots, or the 9-7 Jets gaining ground on the defending AFC East champion Patriots, I'm not convinced there's been that much difference in what each club has done so far. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, however, thinks Patriots fans should be concerned.

The Jets have made the splashier moves, trading for cornerback Antonio Cromartie and signing free-agent back LaDainian Tomlinson. Granted, the Cromartie acquisition was an inspired maneuver that could give the Jets the NFL's top cornerback tandem. But I don't believe Tomlinson is a significant upgrade over Thomas Jones, and the Jets have gotten weaker at safety by trading Kerry Rhodes.

The Patriots have concentrated on re-signing their own players, but they're biggies: franchise nose tackle Vince Wilfork, sacks leader Tully Banta-Cain, cornerback Leigh Bodden and running back Kevin Faulk. Those are core players.

So I would advise Patriots fans not to freak out, and I would advise Jets fans not to get too carried away in the spring.

Jud it Utica, N.Y., wants to know if I saw the renewal reminder the Bills sent out to their season-ticket holders.

For those who haven't seen it, the ad features an unfortunate photo of Brian Moorman punting out of his own end zone against the Browns, an atrocious game the Bills lost 6-3 in overtime in Week 5. The personalized message includes the ticket holder's name and "awaiting your return."

FanHouse writer Pat McManamon exchanged e-mails with Bills executive marketing director Andy Major, who explained the photo simply "was one of our best that included the scoreboard in the background."

My thoughts are that the Bills probably wanted to incorporate a scoreboard shot, thinking it was cool to put the season-ticket holder's name "in lights" and came up with a nice play on words about returning. Maybe a better option would be to use a shot of rookie safety Jairus Byrd, who tied for the NFL lead in interception returns.

Kevin in Lafayette, N.J., is one of many readers who wants to know what the Dolphins plan on doing at receiver. Dan in Syracuse is among a group who wonders if the Dolphins will trade for Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall.

If I'd kept track of questions since my AFC East mailbag opened in the summer of 2008, by far and away the most frequently asked would pertain to what the Dolphins intend to do at receiver.

The Dolphins know they need another receiver. What's stopping them is the front office's belief receivers are overvalued in the current market. The Dolphins have been reluctant to pay the going rate, whether it be in dollars (for a free agent) or draft assets (in a trade).

Where this offseason could be different is they now have a quarterback with an arm that can test defenses deep. Chad Henne played last year with a receiving corps assembled with Chad Pennington in mind. The Dolphins might be ready to open it up this year now that they have a quarterback who can manufacture big plays with the right personnel. Henne recently dropped hints that he wants another receiver.

Do the Dolphins go after Marshall? I'm confident they've checked into it, but after two years of tracking their inability or unwillingness to procure a fearsome receiver so far -- window shopping for Braylon Edwards last year or declining to get into trade talks with the Cardinals for Anquan Boldin a few weeks ago -- my frame of mind is such that I'll be stunned if they ever get somebody.

Kevin in Chesapeake, Va., takes note of a Rumor Central item about the Jets acquiring Marshall in a trade that would involve Edwards. Kevin supports that trade and wonders whether the rumor has any basis in fact.

A week ago, National Football Post insider Michael Lombardi wrote the Jets were considering whether it would be worth their while to pursue a trade for Marshall. That report quickly became an Internet brush fire that suggested the Jets were in serious talks.

A Jets source informed me later that day there was no substance to the Marshall gossip. Similar dismissals were reported by the New York papers and the Associated Press. That said, a lot can change in a week. With most of the owners, general managers and coaches convening for the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., for the next few days, you never know where the conversations could lead.

Andrew from Geneva, N.Y., wants to know what the Bills' linebacking corps will look like now that they've signed free-agent inside linebacker Andra Davis.

That's an excellent question, Andrew, and one I hope to gain some insight about from Bills coach Chan Gailey on Tuesday morning. He's scheduled to be available for a media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings.

It's a little difficult to project the Bills' defense for next year because they are switching to a 3-4 scheme. Most of their roster was put together for the Tampa 2-style 4-3 defense the Bills ran under former coach Dick Jauron. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny will remain inside, of course, but what of Kawika Mitchell? Does Mitchell remain inside or move outside? Can defensive ends Aaron Schobel (if he doesn't retire), Chris Kelsay and Aaron Maybin play outside linebacker?

A lot of questions must be answered, but it will take months to learn the answers.

Draft Watch: AFC East

March, 17, 2010
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NFC Needs Revisited: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Biggest needs revisited.

Buffalo Bills

The first "Draft Watch" installment broke down each team's biggest needs before the free-agency period began. Four weeks later, not much has changed for the Bills. Their positional priorities continue to be quarterback, left tackle and a nose tackle for their new 3-4 defense. The Bills have been judicious in their signings, and the players they've brought aboard haven't addressed major areas of concern. They've added right tackle Cornell Green, inside linebacker Andra Davis and defensive end Dwan Edwards.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins knew an inside linebacker was essential and threw a ton of money at the best one on the free-agent market. They made Karlos Dansby the highest-paid player at his position. But they haven't found a free safety after cutting last year's starter, Gibril Wilson, and failing to land Pittsburgh Steelers free agent Ryan Clark. Nose tackle remains a question mark. They re-signed veteran Jason Ferguson, but he'll be suspended for the first eight games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Dolphins' perennial need is at wide receiver, an area they've declined to address through free agency since misidentifying Ernest Wilford in 2008.

New England Patriots

The Patriots have four draft picks in the top 53 slots. They can address several positions that way. And maybe that's why they haven't been too active in free agency outside of re-signing their own players. Outside linebacker appears to remain a glaring need. Bill Belichick brought back last year's sacks leader, Tully Banta-Cain, but Adalius Thomas' future is in doubt. The Patriots may have tipped their hand about what they consider a need by getting involved in trade talks for Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. Last week's news that slot receiver Wes Welker underwent rotator cuff surgery creates that much more concern.

New York Jets

No team's needs have changed as much in the past four weeks as the Jets. General manager Mike Tannenbaum has been busy through trades and free agency. Tannenbaum said the Jets were destined to draft a cornerback with their first-round pick until they traded with the San Diego Chargers for Antonio Cromartie. The Jets haven't brought in any new receivers yet (unless you want to count running back LaDainian Tomlinson for what he adds out of the backfield), but something tells me Tannenbaum will make a trade to improve the receiving corps. As for the draft, the Jets could use safety help after trading Kerry Rhodes and must fortify their general depth on both sides of the ball, particularly on the lines.

Another All-AFC East team to consider

March, 16, 2010
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ProFootballFocus.com has assembled a 2009 All-AFC East team.

Rather than swipe the whole roster and post it here, let's take a look just at the selections that differed from the "official" All-AFC East squad you selected before the Super Bowl.

PFF went with a hybrid defense that included two defensive tackles, whereas the diagram I presented was a straight 3-4.

Running back: You picked former Jet Thomas Jones. PFF picked Fred Jackson of the Bills.

Receiver: You picked Patriots star Randy Moss. PFF chose Jets wideout Jerricho Cotchery.

Tight end: You chose Dustin Keller of the Jets. But PFF thought Anthony Fasano of the Dolphins was better.

Left guard: You selected perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca of the Jets. PFF went with Logan Mankins of the Patriots.

Right guard: You liked the Jets' Brandon Moore. PFF picked the Patriots' Stephen Neal.

Right tackle: You voted for Vernon Carey of the Dolphins. PFF chose Damien Woody of the Jets.

Defensive end: You went with the Jets' Shaun Ellis. PFF chose the Dolphins' Randy Starks.

Third defensive linemen: You picked Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel. PFF went with Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha.

Strong safety: You picked the Patriots' Brandon Meriweather. PFF preferred the Bills' George Wilson.

Free Safety: You selected Bills rookie Jairus Byrd. PFF took Jets outcast Kerry Rhodes.

Kicker: You selected the Dolphins' Dan Carpenter. PFF liked the Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski.

Special teams: You surprisingly chose Bills castoff John Wendling. PFF liked Jets safety Eric Smith.

For safety, Jets find depth in Pool

March, 11, 2010
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The New York Jets have gotten stronger at safety, reaching an agreement with Cleveland Browns free agent Brodney Pool.

Pool
Pool
The one-year contract is worth $1.3 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Pool had been a starter since Week 11 of 2006, but he had been plagued with concussion problems. He played in 11 games for the Browns last year, starting 10, before the fourth known concussion of his career sidelined him for the duration.

Despite his shortened campaign, Pool tied for the team lead with four interceptions, a career-high. He recorded 47 tackles and one sack.

The Jets needed depth at safety after trading Kerry Rhodes to the Arizona Cardinals for a couple of draft choices. The other safeties on the Jets' roster are Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith and special-teams stalwart James Ihedigbo.

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