AFC East: LaRon Landry

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Remember last year in free agency, when the New York Jets lost LaRon Landry, Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito and Shonn Greene?

General manager John Idzik, who took a lot of criticism for the exodus, admitted Wednesday that the decision to let those players walk was based, in part, on knowing they'd receive compensatory draft picks for the losses.

The Jets ended up receiving the maximum number of compensatory picks (four), giving them a total of 12 picks in next week's draft.

"The compensatory draft-pick system is always in your mind," Idzik said at the team's pre-draft news conference. "It's a factor. It's not the determinant, but it's a factor."

A number of well-respected teams, namely the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, have maximized their compensatory picks. Now the Jets get a chance to cash in. The third day of the draft (rounds four to seven) will be hectic, as the Jets have nine picks over the final four rounds.

Not everyone is a fan of collecting compensatory picks.

"We never went into free agency saying, 'Let's let Bobby and Billy go so we can get a compensatory pick to replace them,'" said ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, a former coach. "We never said, 'Let's not sign a free agent because it will hurt our ability to get a compensatory pick.’"

The Jets' compensatory picks: Fourth round (No. 137 overall), sixth round (No. 209), sixth round (No. 210) and sixth round (No. 213).

Numbers game: A lot of work goes into a draft. It takes almost a full year for the entire scouting process. Former GM Terry Bradway, the senior director of college scouting, provided his annual numbers breakdown, illustrating the point:

Number of schools visited: 263.

Number of school visits: 575.

Number of players written up in scouting reports: 1,372.

Number of player evaluations: 3,500.

Player interviews: 635.

Pro days attended: 115.

College games attended: 120.

The numbers remain fairly steady from year to year, and you can bet every other team is doing the same amount of homework.
The New York Jets haven't doled out a lucrative, multi-year contract for a safety since Kerry Rhodes signed a five-year, $33.5 million deal in 2008 -- a contract then-coach Eric Mangini, speaking to a friend years later, called one of his biggest regrets. But that's besides the point; the message here is that since 2009, in Rex Ryan's cornerback-centric system, the organization hasn't paid premium prices at the safety position.

It should take a hard look at changing the philosophy now that Jairus Byrd appears headed for the open market.

Byrd
The Buffalo Bills declined to use the franchise tag on Byrd (the deadline was 4 p.m. Monday), meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent March 11. That's assuming he doesn't re-sign with the Bills, which appears highly unlikely.

Byrd will demand serious coin -- he reportedly rejected a deal that would have paid him $30 million for the first three years -- but he's so good that the Jets should investigate. Byrd is a younger version of Ed Reed, sans the dynamic return ability. He's a ball hawk with uncanny instincts, a presence in the deep middle. The Jets like to play a lot of single-high safety looks, and Byrd would be a terrific scheme fit. Their problems against the deep ball would disappear with him patrolling center field.

Obviously, the Jets are doing something right on defense (five straight years in the top 11), but they've done so with a glaring lack of production at safety. Since 2009, the Jets' safeties have combined for only 16 interceptions. (We're not including six by Dwight Lowery, a safety/cornerback hybrid who played mostly in sub packages.) Since 2009, when Byrd entered the league as a second-round pick, the soon-to-be-former Bills star has 22 interceptions. By the way, that includes six against the Jets.

So will the Jets pursue Byrd? My gut tells me no. It sounds like they will entrust the position again to Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen & Co., perhaps adding a player in the draft. Clearly, they have bigger needs on offense, but they have enough salary-cap room to plug those needs and make a big splurge on defense. Maybe a look at the list below will change their mind.

Safety interceptions since 2009:

Ed Reed, Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes -- 3
LaRon Landry, Jim Leonhard -- 2
Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Brodney Pool -- 1
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East:
  • Will the New England Patriots be without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills?
Morning take: Gronkowski's back surgery next month certainly has his status in question. He will miss a portion of training camp, and any setback puts the start of the regular season in jeopardy.
Morning take: Miami has three picks who remain unsigned. Taylor is coming off a shoulder injury and is falling behind in the cornerback race. He needs to get healthy to find his role on the team.
Morning take: Williams is having issues off the field with his ex-fiancée. It’s certainly a distraction. But it’s up to Williams to move past personal problems and focus on his team.
Morning take: Landry is a decent player but not a difference-maker. New York signed him at a bargain rate due to a tight salary cap and his familiarity with Rex Ryan’s defense. The Jets couldn’t afford to keep brother LaRon Landry, who is a Pro Bowler.
It was not a very good year for AFC East defenses in 2012. Three teams in the division finished with rankings in the 20s.

But there have been a lot of changes for the division via free agency and the draft. Let’s take a look at updated defensive rankings for the AFC East entering the regular season.

No. 1: Miami Dolphins

Analysis: The Dolphins ranked 21st in total defense in 2012. But Miami was decent against the run and only allowed 19.8 points per game, good for seventh in the NFL. The Dolphins’ biggest issue was their inconsistent pass defense. Miami gave up too many big passing plays and it cost the Dolphins some games. The Dolphins aggressively attacked their cornerback position by signing former Pro Bowler Brent Grimes and drafting Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the second and third rounds, respectively. The Dolphins also added another pass-rushing threat with No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan. If Miami stops allowing big passing plays, the Dolphins’ defense will be tough to beat.

No. 2: New England Patriots

Analysis: The Patriots were 25th in total defense in 2012. But I project New England to make a sizable jump in 2013. The Patriots made solid strides last year in red-zone defense and points allowed. But New England gave up too many chunk passing plays in between the 20s. The Patriots were 29th in pass defense last season. The return of No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib to the secondary is huge, in addition to starting corner Alfonzo Dennard overcoming his legal issues and the Patriots signing hard-hitting safety Adrian Wilson. New England’s pass rush should also improve, led by a healthy Chandler Jones. There is a lot to like about the Patriots’ defense this season, especially with head coach Bill Belichick calling the shots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see New England move up 10 spots or more from last year’s ranking.

No. 3: New York Jets

Analysis: Here is one thing you can count on with the Jets under head coach Rex Ryan: He will field a very good defense. New York has been in the top 10 in total defense since Ryan took over in 2009. The Jets, despite their ugly 6-10 record, was ranked No. 8 in total defense last season. But look for the unit to take a step back in 2013. New York’s scheme remains strong, but this is the least amount of talent Ryan has had in his five seasons with the Jets. New York traded the best cornerback in the NFL -- Darrelle Revis -- to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and lost Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Bart Scott and defensive linemen Sione Po'uha and Mike DeVito. The Jets will try to replace these established veterans with younger players, many of whom are rookies or players with just one year of experience. Defense will still be the Jets' strength, but they won’t be as strong on that side of the ball than in previous years.

No. 4: Buffalo Bills

Analysis: I had a hard time ranking the Bills’ defense. This group has talent on paper, but Buffalo never came close to putting it all together last season. The Bills ranked No. 22 in total defense in 2012, 31st against the run. It will be the job of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to get the most out of his talent. Buffalo has some quality players on defense. Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, defensive end Mario Williams and former first-round picks Marcell Dareus and Stephon Gilmore are all talented. But collectively, the Bills’ defense grossly underachieved. The linebacker play must improve dramatically. I’m also concerned about two major holes at cornerback and safety.

I'm sure there will be plenty of debate about these rankings -- and really, the AFC East is wide open on defense this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these teams lead the division defensively; all four have a chance to be competitive. It most likely will come down to which team can consistently execute defensively and stay healthy over a 16-game season.
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East:
  • Should the Buffalo Bills consider USC quarterback Matt Barkley at No. 8 overall in April's draft
Morning take: Barkley completed his pro day on Wednesday to try to answer questions. However, I still wouldn't take Barkley with a top-10 pick. I'm not fully sure he fits what Buffalo wants to do offensively.
Morning take: The Jets just lost brother LaRon Landry for a lot more money. Dawan Landry is a cheaper alternative who could fill a big need in New York.
Morning take: Louis has 28 career starts with the Chicago Bears. He’s versatile enough to play both guard and tackle, which is valuable for Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.
  • New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will face Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson in the “Madden NFL 25” cover vote.
Morning take: Gronkowski is a great player who is very popular. However, considering his injury history, Patriots fans might not want Gronkowski to be at risk for the Madden curse.
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A look at whether each AFC East team has been a winner or a loser in free agency.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills have been losers in free agency mostly due to inactivity. Buffalo made just one signing: linebacker Manny Lawson. With a new head coach and new schemes on offense and defense, the Bills need a lot more than one linebacker to be competitive next season. Most important, they need to find a quarterback after cutting former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Buffalo also lost starting guard Andy Levitre, linebacker Nick Barnett, veteran safety George Wilson and receivers Donald Jones and David Nelson. The team has yet to fill those holes. Interestingly, the Bills were major players in free agency a year ago. They signed defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million contract and made several other signings. However, Buffalo finished 6-10 in 2012 and decided to take a much quieter approach in 2013.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are big winners in free agency. They landed the best wide receiver on the market (Mike Wallace) and the top linebacker (Dannell Ellerbe). Miami also signed a pass-catching tight end (Dustin Keller) and an additional, athletic linebacker (Philip Wheeler). Miami’s roster looks much stronger and more dynamic than it did heading into the 2012 season, when the team went 7-9. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said it was his goal to close the gap with the New England Patriots. Ireland deserves a lot of credit for a solid game plan and executing it well. The Dolphins still have holes to fill at cornerback, left tackle and at pass-rusher. But Miami still has cap room to spend and 11 total draft picks next month. The Dolphins are not finished adding talent.

New England Patriots: The Patriots have had mixed results in free agency. But overall I would just barely put them in the winners' category. I do not like what they've done on offense, where they lost two starting receivers: Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. The pair accounted for 192 receptions, 2,265 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. That's a lot of lost production that Danny Amendola and Donald Jones -- New England's two free-agent signings at receiver – will not be able to match. The Patriots also haven't re-signed starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who remains a free agent. New England must patch these two holes offensively. On the other hand, I like what New England has done defensively. The Patriots solidified their secondary by signing former Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson and re-signing No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib. They also re-signed backup corners Kyle Arrington and Marquice Cole and added exciting kick returner Leon Washington on special teams.

New York Jets: The Jets are huge losers so far in free agency. They lost talented players much faster than they can replace them. Former New York starters Shonn Greene, Keller, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Sione Pouha, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace were either recently released or signed with other teams. The Jets are hamstrung by a tight salary cap. Therefore, first-year Jets general manager John Idzik has been forced to bargain shop. New York made several low-cost signings, such as tailback Mike Goodson and guard Willie Colon. But overall, the Jets have more holes than they can fill in one offseason.

Are the Jets really that bad?

March, 21, 2013
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Earlier this week ESPN.com released its offseason NFL Power Rankings. The New England Patriots, as expected, were the highest-rated team in the AFC East at No. 5. But the rest of the division was abysmal.

Perhaps what was most interesting is the New York Jets were ranked No. 31 by our ESPN.com panel. Two voters -- Mike Sando of the NFC West blog and Dan Graziano of the NFC East blog -- voted the Jets dead last, the worst team in the NFL.

"I ranked the Jets last because there's such a malaise surrounding the team right now," Sando explained. "The head coach and quarterback are usually the two most important people when it comes to on-field success. Rex Ryan has entered lame-duck status. Mark Sanchez isn't the answer at quarterback, but the Jets are stuck with him. Darrelle Revis, the most important player on defense, isn't healthy or happy. I don't know if the Jets are really the absolute worst team in the NFL, but there might not be any teams' situations I feel worse about."

Are the Jets really that bad? The only team rated worst overall in ESPN.com's Power Rankings was the Jacksonville Jaguars.

New York’s biggest issue is it continues to tear down its roster from last year’s 6-10 team. The Jets have lost at least a half-dozen starters to cuts and free agency, including tight end Dustin Keller, tailback Shonn Greene, safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell and linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. New York has a tight salary cap and is trying to replace those players with bargain-basement options.

The quarterback issue, as Sando mentioned, also carries a lot of weight. With Mark Sanchez competing with David Garrard, New York has one of the NFL’s worst quarterback situations. Of course, that could improve during free agency and in the upcoming draft.

Finally, there is the Darrelle Revis factor. The Jets claim they are not shopping Revis, but most do not expect him to play for them in 2013. Revis will be an unrestricted free agent next year and the Jets probably can’t afford him. It would be wise for New York to get something for Revis now to boost its rebuilding effort. Even with Revis, the Jets will probably project to have another losing season.

This is the first and hardest year of New York’s rebuilding effort. Things are going to get worse for the Jets before they get better.
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The Miami Dolphins continue to spend money to improve the roster around second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Just three days after signing dynamic receiver Mike Wallace, the Dolphins signed former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller Friday to a one-year, $4.5 million contact, according to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton.

This is a nice get for Miami, which simultaneously fills a big need and takes a good player away from the rival Jets.

Keller was Mark Sanchez's safety value in New York for years. Now, Keller has a chance to do the same for Tannehill in Miami. Keller has had two seasons of at least 55 receptions in the past three years.

Keller had a lengthy visit with Miami this week but left without an agreement. Reportedly, he wanted a multiyear contract. But Miami held its ground, and Keller eventually took the Dolphins' offer.

Signing Keller short-term is a bargain for Miami. Had Keller not gotten injured last season, he would have received a longer contract. He now has a “prove it” contract and can enter free agency again in 2014 with better production and better circumstances. It also allows the Dolphins another year to see if 2012 third-round pick Michael Egnew can develop into a contributor. It’s a win-win situation for Miami.

Meanwhile, the purge in New York continues. The Jets have now lost starters Keller, Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry, 1,000-yard tailback Shonn Greene, safety Yeremiah Bell and valuable backup defensive lineman Mike DeVito. The Jets have a lot of talent to replace and very limited resources.
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East: Morning take: The Jets' talent purge continues in free agency. They lost Landry, tailback Shonn Greene, safety Yeremiah Bell and defensive lineman Mike DeVito. New York doesn’t have enough money to replace its lost talent.
Morning take: The bar is high for Amendola. He has to surpass Welker’s 118 catches last season. I don’t see that happening.
Morning take: The Dolphins have yet to fill their tight end position. Second-year tight end Michael Egnew is not the answer. Keller would be a nice addition.
Morning take: I’m not a fan of this year’s quarterback class. But if Geno Smith is there at No. 8, the Bills must at least consider it. The release of Ryan Fitzpatrick leaves Buffalo desperate for a starter.
Veteran linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace are expected to be released soon by the salary-strapped New York Jets. Pro Bowl safety and pending free-agent LaRon Landry also is not expected to return.

Should the Buffalo Bills swoop in and recruit any of these former Jets? Here are several reasons it's possible:
  • Buffalo has a strong tie to Pace, Scott and Landry now that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine left the Jets this year to join the Bills. Buffalo will run the same system that he ran with the Jets, and Pettine needs to recruit players who know the system well. Buffalo, unlike New York, also has salary-cap space to spend on signing free agents.
  • It's also no secret that Buffalo needs an upgrade at linebacker and safety. The Bills just cut linebacker and leading tackler Nick Barnett, as well as veteran safety George Wilson. They will be looking for at least one linebacker and one safety to fill those holes. Buffalo was 31st against the run last season, and needs to get a lot tougher. Scott, Pace and Landry all have the ability to improve Buffalo's physicality.
  • Finally, Buffalo offers familiarity and a chance to stay within the division. Money obviously is the biggest factor. But rest assured playing against New York twice a year will provide some level of added motivation for former Jets. It is doubtful Buffalo will land all three former Jets in free agency. However, it wouldn't be shocking if the Bills make a run at least one of them to fill a need.

Playing tag in the AFC East

February, 13, 2013
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Only one AFC East team utilized the franchise tag last year. The New England Patriots tagged Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker, who caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.

Welker lived up to the expensive, $9.5 million salary the tag dictated in 2012. But will more AFC East teams use the franchise tag to retain valuable free agents in 2013?

There were 19 teams total that utilized the franchise tag last season. Here are the top candidates in the AFC East this offseason:

Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills

2012 stats: 76 tackles, five interceptions, four forced fumbles

Analysis: Byrd is Buffalo's top free agent. The former second-round pick also is the top safety on the market not named Ed Reed. Byrd will get a lot of interest if he hits the open market. However, it is doubtful the Bills will allow Byrd to fly away without a fight. Buffalo is making Byrd the team's biggest offseason priority. The preference would be a long-term extension. But the Bills also won't be afraid to use their franchise tag to keep Byrd in Buffalo for at least the 2013 season.

Chance for franchise tag: 50 percent

Andy Levitre, G, Bills

2012 stats: 16 starts

Analysis: It's rare for a guard to receive consideration for the franchise tag. The position has been tagged only once in the past 12 years. However, Levitre and the Bills are in a tricky situation. He is one of the top guards in the NFL, and the reason he hasn't been to a Pro Bowl is mostly because he plays in Buffalo. Levitre is athletic, smart and durable. He has a streak of 64 consecutive starts at a position where injuries are prevalent. However, Byrd is first in line for the tag in Buffalo. The Bills run the risk of losing their best guard if they can't reach a long-term extension. But that is a position that is easier to replace than safety.

Chance for franchise tag: 15 percent

Wes Welker, WR, Patriots

2012 stats: 118 receptions, 1,354 yards, six touchdowns

Analysis: The Patriots have used the franchise tag for two straight years to settle contract disputes. In 2011, Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins was tagged and later signed a long-term extension. Will the same thing happen to Welker? The Patriots have the cap room to work out a contract extension with Welker, 31, who had his fifth 100-catch season in New England. A second straight franchise tag will increase Welker's number to $11.4 million. I think that is too much to pay for one year. The Patriots will keep that option in their pocket in case of an emergency, but there's probably a 50-50 chance right now that Welker stays in New England via a multi-year contract. A two- or three-year extension for $7-8 million seems reasonable for both sides. If not, Welker may test the open market.

Chance for franchise tag: 30 percent

Sean Smith, CB, Miami Dolphins

2012 stats: 59 tackles, three interceptions

Analysis: The Dolphins have about $40 million in cap space and the potential to do just about anything they choose. Miami would prefer not to use the franchise tag this year, but there are a couple scenarios for the team to consider. Smith is one of those difficult cases. Is Smith a top-10 cornerback in the NFL? No. However, the Dolphins are so thin in the secondary that franchising Smith cannot be completely ruled out. Miami would have to completely start over at cornerback if it loses Smith. Another team most likely will overpay for Smith's services if he hits the open market, because Smith is a big, athletic guy who plays a coveted position. Although the numbers have not been finalized, a one-year franchise tag for Smith will cost Miami about $10.5 million. I don't expect the Dolphins to do it, but the thought has certainly crossed their minds.

Chance for franchise tag: 20 percent

Jake Long, LT, Miami Dolphins

2012 stats: 12 starts

Analysis: Long is another in-house free agent for Miami who is not expected to get a multi-year extension. He just completed his rookie contract and is looking to become one of the NFL's highest-paid offensive linemen. However, Long has been on the decline the past two seasons. Long was once considered the top left tackle in the NFL until injuries and inconsistent play stunted his career. A one-year franchise tag will eat up a good percentage of Miami's cap room. The Dolphins have some contingency options if Long doesn't return. They could use 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin at left tackle. Or Miami could look to the draft and free agency to find a more affordable option than Long.

Chance for franchise tag: 20 percent

The New York Jets do not have the cap room or strong enough candidates to pay the franchise tender in 2013. Pending free agents such as tailback Shonn Greene, tight end Dustin Keller and safety LaRon Landry are productive players. But neither will get elite money.

AFC East links: Grading the Patriots

February, 7, 2013
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Buffalo Bills

Brad Smith is trying his hand at something new this offseason.

Ryan Nassib is just one of several quarterbacks the Bills are looking at as the draft draws closer.

Miami Dolphins

Watching fellow 2012 draft picks Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson reach the postseason as rookies serves as motivation for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. “I’m confident in what we can do here in Miami going into the future,” said Tannehill. “I think going into the year outside people didn’t really have any expectations for us but we had expectations for ourselves. Obviously, we came up short but we were right there down to the end. We wish we could have won some of those close games early on in the year that we felt like we should have won, so moving forward we’re excited about the opportunity we have and the guys that we have on the team.”

Is it time for Miami to part ways with defensive end Jared Odrick? The answer is yes, according to The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero.

New England Patriots

The Boston Globe's Greg Bedard hands out his grades for the 2012 season.

The Patriots have some important decisions to make when it comes to their in-house free agents.

New York Jets

Count safety LaRon Landry among those who "would have loved" to see Tim Tebow throw the ball more this past season.

General manager John Idzik has some work to do to get his team under the salary cap.

Video: LaRon Landry on Jets' poor season

February, 6, 2013
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Jets safety LaRon Landry joins "First Take" to talk about New York's disappointing season, QB struggles, and whether Tim Tebow was misused and a distraction.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 21-24

January, 30, 2013
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The AFC East blog continues its second annual "Walker’s Fab 40," where we rank the top players in the division.

Here are Nos. 21-24:

Wilkerson
No. 24: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets

2012 stats: 70 tackles, five sacks, three forced fumbles

Analysis: Wilkerson came on strong this season and showed why the Jets made him a first-round pick out of Temple in 2011. He was fourth on the Jets in tackles and second in sacks, which is hard to do as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Wilkerson got stronger and became harder to block as the season went on. The Jets' play in the second half of the season went downhill but Wilkerson continued to shine. He played at a Pro Bowl level in November and December and should only get better.

Landry
No. 23: LaRon Landry, S, Jets

2012 stats: 99 tackles, two INTs, four forced fumbles

Analysis: Landry was one of the best signings in the division in 2012. Landry came to the Jets on the cheap with durability concerns. But he played his way into the Pro Bowl by being an enforcer and establishing a physical presence. New York had the NFL's second-best pass defense, even after star cornerback Darrelle Revis was lost for the season. Landry was a missile looking to unload on players coming across the middle. Unfortunately for the Jets, Landry could be a goner. He's an unrestricted free agent looking for a long-term extension following his Pro Bowl season. The Jets may not have the cap space to pay Landry to stay.

Wood
No. 22: Eric Wood, C, Buffalo Bills

2012 stats: 14 starts

Analysis: Wood is on the cusp of being one of the top centers in the NFL. He is strong, mobile, smart and has all the tools you want at the position. There is a reason C.J. Spiller had large creases to run up the middle last season, and Fred Jackson the year before that. Wood holds his blocks well and uses his feet to drive and position defenders. The biggest issue with Wood is his durability. He's struggled with leg and knee injuries the past two years.

Vollmer
No. 21: Sebastian Vollmer, RT, New England Patriots

2012 stats: 15 starts

Analysis: Vollmer is one of the most underrated players in the AFC East. He's also one of the top right tackles in the NFL, although that's a position that garners most of the attention on the left side. Vollmer has done a standout job protecting the front side of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Vollmer also is tough and plays well through pain. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the Patriots wisely want him back.

Is Rex Ryan now a lame duck?

January, 24, 2013
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The New York Jets do not have a quality quarterback, they’re about $19 million over the cap, and the owner wants to trade the best player on the team.

Does all this make Jets head coach Rex Ryan a lame duck in 2013?

Ryan enters next season on the hot seat after back-to-back non-winning seasons. The outspoken coach survived the mess while his former general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, did not. Ryan now is in a must-win situation with no excuses.

Yet, everything the Jets are doing shows the team is ready for a major rebuild. New York is in the process of gutting the roster under new general manager John Idzik. The Jets will cut a lot of veteran talent this offseason to get under the salary cap, and pending free agents such as safety LaRon Landry, tight end Dustin Keller and 1,000-yard rusher Shonn Greene may not return. The Jets are handcuffed with the cap this year and will not be major players in free agency. That puts Ryan in a very tough spot to try to win with a rebuilding team.

This week's news that New York is shopping star cornerback Darrelle Revis was the most telling. How do you think Ryan feels about the Jets looking to trade their best player?

Jets ownership appears convinced they have no chance of keeping Revis beyond next season. From that perspective, it makes sense to get something for the cornerback now.

However, Ryan may be shaking his head behind closed doors wondering if he has a legitimate chance to succeed with New York's thinning roster. It could be playoffs or bust in 2013 for Ryan to keep his job -- and the odds appear stacked against him.

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