New York Jets: 2014 NFL free agency

Rex Ryan's pitch to Chris Johnson

April, 17, 2014
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If you need any more evidence of the draw coach Rex Ryan has over NFL free agents, look no further than Chris Johnson's initial conference call on Thursday afternoon. He was asked why he chose the New York Jets, and he noted the team had a chance to win it all.

"They know how to win over there," Johnson said. "The type of team that they had last year, they got a great defense. Any time you have a great defense you give yourself a great chance at winning. Looking at the team, me going there to get more playmakers on offense, we know as an organization if we're able to put up points, then that will give us a good chance at winning. So I felt I would be able to fit that mold and come there and help [the] offense."

Not only have Ryan's Jets not delivered in the past three years, costing numerous coaches and a general manager their jobs, but a running back actually mentioned the defense as a reason to come to New York.

The Jets are 22-26 since 2011, but listen to the facts that Johnson has at the ready after spending a few days at the Jets' training facility in Florham Park.

"They haven't been to the playoffs in three years," Johnson said, "but last year they were one game out from the playoffs and the year before those three years they were a playoff team that was close to the Super Bowl and all those types of things."

It's the closest fans may get to hearing Ryan's actual sales pitch to a free agent.

Later Thursday, 98.7 ESPN New York's Michael Kay asked Johnson about Ryan, and you could almost hear him smile through the radio.

"I can see me and him being real, real cool," Johnson said.

Can you imagine a player saying something like that after meeting, say, Patriots coach Bill Belichick? Ryan seems to have an effortless way of relating to players, and it may be part of the reason Johnson was drawn to New York over another team.

If Johnson has another 2,000-yard season, Ryan and his skills of persuasion will look pretty valuable. But that's one of the big ifs for the Jets as the team prepares to begin its offseason training program on Monday.


Everybody thought LaDainian Tomlinson was ready for a rocking chair at the age of 30. He was a diminished player for the San Diego Chargers in 2009, finishing the season with a hard-to-watch game against the New York Jets in the playoffs -- 12 carries, 24 yards.

The future Hall of Famer was fired by his forever team, and the Jets, of all teams, gave him a job, gambling the once great runner could reinvent himself. They looked past his pedestrian '09 numbers, determining that heart was a better barometer than his 3.3 yards per carry. They were right; he was terrific in 2010.

"This," Tomlinson said at the time, "has refreshed me, being here."

Four years later, the Jets are once again trying to catch an old lightning-back in a bottle. This time his name is Chris Johnson, and there's every reason to believe he can give them a season like Tomlinson did.

The Jets get Johnson at 28, a little younger than Tomlinson upon his arrival, but the narrative is the same: a fading star coming off his worst season.

Johnson staggered to the finish last season, looking more like CJ1K than the old CJ2K. He barely cracked he 1,000-yard plateau, managing a pedestrian 3.9 yards per rush. The Tennessee Titans decided -- and rightly so -- it made no sense to pay him an $8 million wage for 2014.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiChris Johnson cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2013 despite playing the majority of the season with a knee injury.
Clearly, the Jets aren't getting the Johnson of 2009, when he blew away the league by rushing for 2,006 yards with his sub-4.3 speed, but they should have a highly motivated back who will get an opportunity to duplicate what Tomlinson did in 2010.

That year, Tomlinson rushed for a team-high 914 yards on just 219 carries and caught 52 passes, three shy of the team leader. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Nothing jars a world-class athlete more than being told he's not good enough, that it's time to pack up and leave. Tomlinson used that as his fuel until his body finally broke down in 2011. The Jets are hoping for a similarly inspired Johnson, who's already talking about redemption.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday on a conference call with the media.

You'll be disappointed if you expect a 1,500-yard season out of Johnson, but he's better than what he showed last year. He played 13 games on a torn meniscus, running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season -- hardly ideal conditions for a running back.

"Chris Johnson isn't a bell cow anymore," a longtime NFL personnel executive said. "I don't know where his heart is -- there are some things underneath his hood that I don't like -- but for the right price, yeah, I think it's a good move."

The Jets paid a top-of-the-market price -- two years, $8 million -- but the cost is reasonable. Chances are, they will take a less-is-more approach with Johnson, hoping a time-share with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will preserve the remaining tread on Johnson's tires and improve his efficiency. That, of course, is based on the presumption that one of those tires isn't on the verge of a blowout.

Johnson disputed an ESPN report that said there's arthritis in his surgically repaired right knee, insisting he'll be fine. This bears watching, because the fire in his belly will burn out quickly if there's pain in his knee. If he's healthy, he'll be a plus for the offense.

"If a bad year is 1,100 yards, I'll take that all day," said ESPN analyst and former Jets tackle Damien Woody, alluding to Johnson's 1,077 last year.

Woody played for the Jets when Tomlinson arrived in 2010. At first, he wondered if Tomlinson was out of gas, but those concerns were allayed as soon as he saw the old running back on the field, doing his thing. Woody believes Johnson will respond the same way.

"The situations are really similar," Woody said. "You have two really good backs that were jettisoned from teams they had a lot of success with, dealing with the perception they're washed up. That, obviously, puts a chip on your shoulder."

The Jets have become a second-chance/last-chance stop for running backs. Before Tomlinson, there was Thomas Jones, who was outstanding before the salary-cap police decided it was time to go. A year ago, they traded for Ivory, who teased the New Orleans Saints for years.

As Woody noted, Jets coach Rex Ryan has way of reaching older players, coaxing them to give whatever they have left. Now he has Johnson, who still can be a productive runner -- as long as his wheels are as strong as his will.

Source: Sidney Rice visits Jets

April, 16, 2014
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UPDATE: Sidney Rice agreed Wednesday night to re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks.

Injury-plagued wide receiver Sidney Rice, cut by the Seattle Seahawks after the season, visited with the New York Jets on Wednesday, a league source confirmed.

The Jets already have signed two receivers, Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford, but they still want to build depth. Rice, 27, was once regarded as a rising star, but he has missed 15 of the past 48 games due to knee injuries and concussions. In fact, he tore an ACL last October, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. He reportedly was cleared only recently to return to football activities.

The 6-foot-4 Rice would be an inexpensive acquisition for the Jets, probably a one-year contract for close to the minimum salary. General manager John Idzik is a former Seahawks executive and was partly responsible for signing Rice to a five-year, $41 million contract in 2011. Rice parlayed his one big year (1,312 receiving yards for the Minnesota Vikings in 2010) into the big score.

Rice has 243 catches for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Analysis: CJ provides new dimension

April, 16, 2014
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Johnson
A few thoughts on former Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson agreeing to a contract with the New York Jets:

1. Adds swagger on offense: Critics of this move can use a lot of numbers to illustrate Johnson's decline in recent years, but that would be overlooking the obvious: Johnson brings street cred to an offense devoid of stars and playmakers. Say what you want about his slippage, but the man knows how to score -- with 58 career touchdowns. The Jets, 29th in scoring last season, need guys who don't require a GPS to find the end zone. They have too many that do.

Ivory
2. Projected role: The Jets intend to use Johnson in tandem with Chris Ivory. Presumably Johnson is on board with the plan or else he wouldn't have signed, but you wonder how he'll feel during the season. Remember, he voiced his displeasure last season when the Titans signed former Jet Shonn Greene, robbing him of carries. Johnson, who turns 29 in September, has to understand he's no longer a workhorse-type back. His days of averaging 290 carries per year are over -- or should be. Ivory and Johnson will complement each other nicely. Ivory is a tackle-breaking power back, Johnson the speed back with home run ability. Johnson no longer is the CJ2K of 2009, when he rushed for 2,006 yards, but he still has enough speed (assuming his surgically repaired knee is OK) to threaten the perimeter and stretch defenses. It also creates another wrinkle for the Wildcat package.

3. The new Shady: When he was the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg had a dual threat in LeSean McCoy who was (and still is) dangerous out of the backfield in the passing game. Johnson brings that type of element to the offense. He's not as elusive in space as McCoy, but he's a threat because of his straight-line speed. Johnson made 42 catches on 51 targets last season, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch -- fifth-best in the league. For what it's worth, he has 272 career receptions, more than any other player on the team. With Johnson leaking out of the backfield, opponents will have to think twice before sending extra pressure.

4. The new Ground & Pound: Since Rex Ryan took over in 2009, the Jets have rushed for nearly 11,000 yards, the third-highest total in the league, and they've done it without a true burner in the backfield. They have been a grind-it-out running game, but Johnson brings a different dimension. He makes defenses pay attention even though he falls into the all-or-nothing category. He has been tackled for a loss or no gain on 410 rushes since he entered the NFL in 2008, the most during that time. But he also has gained at least 10 yards on 200 rushes since then, second to only Adrian Peterson. The problem is that unless the Jets add another threat on the perimeter, they will continue to see a steady dose of eight-man fronts.

Smith
5. Commentary on the QBs: The rest of the league might be pass happy, but this move reinforces the Jets' belief in running the ball. They believe a strong ground game gives second-year quarterback Geno Smith the best chance to succeed. It wasn't a coincidence that Smith's late-season rally happened when the rushing attack perked up. Johnson will benefit, too, having two quarterbacks -- Smith and Michael Vick -- with good mobility. It will create creases in the defense.

Johnson completes visit, no deal

April, 15, 2014
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Free-agent running back Chris Johnson began Tuesday in New Jersey, visiting with the New York Jets. He ended the day in Brooklyn, watching the Brooklyn Nets-New York Knicks game from a courtside seat ... still without a team.

Johnson spoke to a small group of reporters at the game, revealing little about the visit ("everything went well") or about his immediate plans. He indicated he's planning to visit other teams, but he didn't name them. The Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are said to have interest, but they're obviously not making a mad rush to him.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time, taking my time, and whatever decision I make, it will be the best decision," said Johnson, who received a cheer from the crowd when his face appeared on the JumboTron.

Asked what he likes about the Jets, Johnson said, "You know, I'm just taking it one day at a time. That's all I'm going to say." He said he has no time frame for his decision.

This is a tough time to be a running back without a team. No one in free agency has fetched more than $3.5 million per year, less than half of what Johnson was scheduled to make from the Tennessee Titans. Evidently, the Jets didn't meet his asking price or else he wouldn't have left the building without signing. There's a sense in league circles that Johnson could end up with a deal similar to what quarterback Michael Vick received from the Jets -- one year, $4 million. He's represented by the same agent as Vick, Joel Segal.

Johnson doesn't appear to be in any hurry to sign. The Jets have a genuine interest, but they've become a conservative organization under general manager John Idzik, who refuses to overpay. They prefer to have an answer before the draft, May 8.

Information from Ian Begley was used in this report

Jets hope to lock up Chris Johnson

April, 15, 2014
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It comes as no surprise that free-agent running back Chris Johnson is visiting Tuesday with the New York Jets. They never lost interest in him even though his first week on the open market was eerily quiet. Despite a down season in 2013, the Jets still believe he's a quality back, capable of recapturing some of his past form with better offensive line play than he had with the Tennessee Titans.

The timing of the visit (and possible signing) makes sense. The Jets open their offseason program Monday, and Rex Ryan prefers to have his veteran players under the same roof for as much of the program as possible. Johnson probably would be limited because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but his presence would be good for team chemistry and would allow him to start learning the offense. Teams also like to tie up loose ends in free agency before shifting into total draft mode next week. A similar situation unfolded last year. After maintaining contact for a few weeks, the Jets signed free-agent safety Dawan Landry a week before the offseason program.

Don't think money has nothing to do with this. Johnson has generated little interest as a free agent, causing his value to drop. No other team has been identified as having serious interest. No doubt that factored into general manager John Idzik's thinking from the outset. The Jets should be able to lock up Johnson with a team-friendly deal, and they hope to get it done quickly.
John Idzik and Rex RyanAP Photo/Bill KostrounWill Jets GM John Idzik draft the starting-caliber cornerback that Rex Ryan needs?
The biggest cliché you will read or hear over the next few weeks will be from NFL experts explaining that this will be a critical draft for (insert any team name).

Hello? They're all critical because they happen only once a year.

The second-biggest cliché will be from smart-alecks like me reminding you it's a cliché.

That said, I'll probably incur a penalty flag for writing this, but there are special cases -- see the New York Jets -- where there is simply no way to minimize the importance of a particular draft.

This is one of those years for the Jets. Because of their deliberate approach in free agency -- some might say cheap -- they have raised the stakes for the upcoming draft. May 8-10 will be the three biggest days of the year for a franchise in Stage 2 of its rebuilding project.

Despite having enough salary-cap room to pay an entire small-market baseball team, general manager John Idzik chose to save most of his money, counting on a bountiful draft to fill the many holes on the Jets' roster.

You might say he's putting most of his eggs in one basket, and it happens to be a complete dozen -- 12 draft picks. He'll have yolk on the face if he blows this draft, because he passed up a lot of potential upgrades in free agency.

Many fans are restless because they are not accustomed to this way of doing business. Under Idzik's predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets owned the New York back pages in March, titillating the fan base with sexy trades and expensive signings.

Tannenbaum knew how to feed the beast, but there was a method to his madness. His research told him they were better off spending the money on proven commodities instead of stockpiling draft choices, figuring the bust rate of draft picks -- especially in the late rounds -- didn't validate the risk-reward.

In the past six drafts under Tannenbaum, 2007 to 2012, the Jets added 31 players -- an average of roughly five per year. If Idzik keeps his full allotment of choices, which includes four compensatory selections and a pick from the Darrelle Revis trade, he'll be up to 19 picks in two drafts.

Tannenbaum's plan damn near worked, as the Jets reached back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010, but the talent base eventually eroded and he was fired. Now they have the anti-Tannenbaum in Idzik, building at a glacial pace through the draft.

"The football offseason is like an event, a circus act, and fans in general want to see something," a longtime personnel executive said this week. "With John, he takes the air out of the balloon. It's not exciting, but he does it his way. You have to respect that."

Idzik's way is similar to those of the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, three successful organizations that rely on the draft more than free agency. In Wisconsin, you're more likely to see a March thaw than a flurry of free-agent signings. The signing of Julius Peppers last month was a stunning departure from the norm, a rare walk on the wild side by GM Ted Thompson.

Their usual philosophy: Draft. Develop. Extend. In other words, use your money to re-invest in your homegrown talent.

"He's modeling those organizations," the former personnel executive said of Idzik.

Idzik has to yet to make a long-term commitment to an ascending player, although you could make the case that the Jets haven't had anyone worthy of a contract extension. That will change when defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson gets a new deal, this year or next. For now, the objective is to find more Wilkersons.

Their list of needs is long, perhaps too long, considering they began free agency with close to $40 million in cap room. They upgraded the No. 2 wide receiver spot by signing Eric Decker, and they fortified the quarterback position by adding Michael Vick. But where are the playmakers? If the Jets are counting on Decker to be a difference-maker, they misspent their guaranteed $15 million.

Defensively, the personnel is worse than it was at the end of the season, specifically at cornerback. The mistake wasn't cutting Antonio Cromartie and making no effort to re-sign him; after all, he played poorly last season. No, the mistake was failing to come up with a better replacement than the aging and injury-prone Dimitri Patterson.

Defense will drive the Jets as long as Rex Ryan is the coach, and his defensive system is driven by cornerbacks. Idzik knows that, but he obviously held back in free agency, knowing he has an XXL draft to attack the team's weaknesses.

The second-year GM and his revamped scouting department enjoyed a solid first draft, so there is hope, but the challenge is greater this year because the expectation level is higher. If you're going to be frugal in free agency, you had better own the draft.

The Jets need to come away with a starting-caliber cornerback, a potential No. 1 receiver and a pass-catching tight end. With six choices among the top 137, they have the bargaining chips to wheel and deal. Idzik has enough ammo to take control of the draft, cherry-picking the players he covets most. A Justin Gilbert-Allen Robinson-Jace Amaro troika would be a nice start.

This is a critical draft for the Jets. Sorry about the cliché, but it's the truth.

Jets re-sign LB Garrett McIntyre

April, 9, 2014
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The New York Jets added a veteran to one of their thinnest positions, re-signing outside linebacker Garrett McIntyre.

McIntyre was a non-tendered restricted free agent. In other words, the Jets declined last month to extend the necessary tender ($1.4 million) to maintain their rights to McIntyre. After shopping around for a few weeks, McIntyre decided to return, undoubtedly for less than $1.4 million. Terms of the deal weren't immediately available.

McIntyre played in 13 games last season, missing three with a knee injury. He played in 256 defensive snaps (23 percent), mostly as a fill-in for Calvin Pace. He finished with 19 total tackles, including two sacks.

Eight free-agent leftovers, including Reed

April, 7, 2014
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The New York Jets began free agency with 16 unrestricted free agents. They lost two players and re-signed six, leaving eight on the open market. A quick update on the unwanted eight:

Ed Reed, safety: Rex Ryan said he hasn't shut the door on the future Hall of Famer, but a return seems unlikely.

Aaron Berry, cornerback: The Jets have six veteran corners on the roster and they probably will add another in the draft. No room at the Inn for Berry.

Josh Cribbs, kick returner: The addition of Jacoby Ford makes him expendable.

Josh Mauga, linebacker: They're thin at inside linebacker, so a return is possible.

Kellen Winslow, tight end: If Winslow plays again, it won't be for the Jets.

David Garrard, quarterback: Michael Vick is the new grizzled vet/mentor in the quarterback room.

Lex Hilliard, fullback: They have to bring in competition for Tommy Bohanon.

Darius Reynaud, kick returner: See Cribbs.

Despite decline, Johnson worth a look

April, 4, 2014
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The Tennessee Titans made it official Friday, releasing former Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson. The New York Jets have interest, according to a league source. In fact, they were one of the teams that inquired about trading for Johnson, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
AP Photo/Wade PayneChris Johnson will be looking to bounce back after playing through a knee injury for much of last season.
A few thoughts on whether this is a move they should pursue now that Johnson's a free agent:

1. Proceed with caution: If I were the Jets, I'd try to sign Johnson on three conditions: There are no concerns with his surgically repaired right knee; he's willing to accept a deal for fair market value; and he agrees to be a complementary back with Chris Ivory. If everything aligns, he's worth the risk. CJ2K is gone, but any back with six straight 1,000-yard seasons has to be a consideration.

2. The upside: The Jets have a solid stable of backs, but they don't have a home run threat. While Johnson's statistics show a steady decline in his breakaway ability (he had only five rushes of 20-plus yards last season, compared to 22 in 2009), he's still fast -- and defenses would have to respect that. Right now, they don't have a runner that can threaten the perimeter on a consistent basis. Johnson is a finesse runner -- he doesn't break many tackles in the hole -- but they can create space by running him out of spread formations. He's the anti-Ivory, which is why they'd make a good tandem. Johnson would have to be OK with a reduced role. He'll be 29 in September, and he needs to understand that fewer carries would make him more effective and lengthen his career.

3. Extenuating circumstances: Johnson hasn't come close to replicating his signature season -- 2,006 yards in 2009 -- fueling a variety of theories on why his production has slipped. His per-carry average last year (3.9) was a career low, but he revealed after the season that he played with a torn meniscus from Week 3. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in late January and began running only about two weeks ago. The knee injury would certainly explain his lack of explosiveness. Since signing a four-year, $53.5 million extension in 2011, his average has dropped to 4.12 per carry (28th in the NFL). Is he a victim of circumstances or has the tread on his tires worn thin? Probably a combination of both.

4. Money matters: Johnson was due to make $8 million this season from the Titans. This is a depressed running back market, and a team would be crazy to guarantee that much money. A total of 24 running backs have signed free-agent contracts since March 11, and the numbers are sobering. The biggest guarantee was only $4.5 million (Toby Gerhart) and the largest average-per-year was $3.5 million (Gerhart, Donald Brown). The Jets have some wiggle room at running back. In fact, their backs are counting only $5.7 million on the cap, 29 percent below the league average, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Johnson has to be realistic with his demands.

5. Final thoughts: Based simply on the data, you'd want to stay away from Johnson, a player on the decline. But sometimes you have to trust your gut, gambling that a once-great player can find some of that old magic. If Johnson is willing to put ego aside, and the docs give the knee a thumb's up, he's worth checking out.

Patterson lacks flash, not confidence

April, 2, 2014
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Dimitri Patterson never has been mentioned with the top cornerbacks in the NFL, but he obviously feels he's an underrated talent. His self-confidence was apparent Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

Patterson
"Obviously, I don’t have the sexiest or flashiest name or I don’t have a lot of hype behind my name," Patterson said. "The thing about it is when you turn on the tape, with the opportunity that has been given to me ... my numbers speak for themselves. ... I have been able to show that, when the opportunity is given, I can play at a high level and I can handle the top receivers."

The New York Jets gave him a one-year, $3 million contract, which consists of a $1 million signing bonus, a $1.5 million base salary and $500,000 in roster bonuses ($31,250 for every game he's on the active 46). The size of the contract suggests Patterson will be on the field a lot. He said he will have the opportunity to replace Antonio Cromartie in the starting lineup.

"They told me that there is definitely a strong opportunity there for me to come in and pick up where I left off last year," said Patterson, who started four games for the Miami Dolphins before a groin injury forced him to the sideline.

Patterson revealed that he underwent surgery last December to correct the problem, saying he feels "great." That's the knock on him, that he's injury prone. Patterson, who turns 31 next month, has missed 24 games the past two seasons. The man he's replacing, Cromartie, never missed a game due to injury.

"I just ask that [the] individual look at what I have been able to do when given the opportunity, and look at that as a football player and not someone that has a lot of hype behind his name or is hyped up," he said. "[Just look at me] as a football player who has done a lot with the little opportunity that has been given to him."

The Jets also introduced wide receiver Jacoby Ford via conference call. Ford, who spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, said he will compete for the kickoff-return job and, possibly, the punt-returning job. They could use a boost in those areas. Like Patterson, Ford is trying to shake the label that he's injury prone. He missed the 2012 season, recovering from foot surgery. He claimed he's still as fast as he was when he came out of Clemson in 2010, which means he's pretty fast. He ran a 4.28 in the 40.

"The exact same or faster [than when I came out of school]," said Ford, who signed a one-year deal for probably about $1 million. "I feel that confident in my running."

Dimitri Patterson signing raises questions

April, 1, 2014
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A few thoughts on cornerback Dimitri Patterson signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the New York Jets:

Patterson
1. A head scratcher: In the end, general manager John Idzik preferred a $3 million cornerback with major durability issues over a $3.5 million corner (Antonio Cromartie) who never has missed a game in his career due to injury and already is comfortable in Rex Ryan's system. On the surface, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Idzik is gambling that Patterson can beat the injury bug that cost him 24 games over the last two seasons. Granted, Cromartie didn't play well last season, but he's a scheme fit and his troublesome hip is said to be doing better. He's getting $3.5 million from the Arizona Cardinals, who think he'll be fine.

2. Mr. Inside: Patterson started four games for the Miami Dolphins last season, but his best position is the nickel -- specifically, covering the slot receiver. The Dolphins were thin at corner, so they had to start him. A review of Dolphins tape shows that, early in the season, Patterson started at right corner and slid inside on nickel downs. Said one AFC personnel scout: "He's a borderline starter, but you really want him as your 3. I bet you they draft a guy because he's not a press (coverage) guy in the way Rex likes to press."

3. Projected role: The size of Patterson's contract suggests he will be on the field a lot, starting opposite Dee Milliner or playing in the nickel. Right now, he's the leading candidate to replace Cromartie in the lineup. This won't preclude the Jets from drafting a corner, perhaps in the first two rounds. Remember, Patterson is just a stop-gap. Scouts, Inc. has 15 corners rated in their top 100, so they should be able to find a potential starter in the first three rounds. If they pick a corner early, it could jeopardize Kyle Wilson's roster spot.

4. Nice productivity: Limited to only six games because of a groin injury that hampered him the entire season, Patterson finished with four interceptions (in 228 defensive snaps) -- one more pick than anybody on the Jets. Patterson recorded two interceptions in the opener, although the first was a gift deflection. His best play came against the New England Patriots in the seventh game, when he dropped into a zone from the slot, made a nice read on Tom Brady and stepped in front of Rob Gronkowski to make the interception. Patterson shows nice instincts and ball skills, but he lacks catch-up speed. And, of course, he can't stay healthy.

Takeaways on Jets signing Jacoby Ford

April, 1, 2014
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A few takeaways on former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford signing with the New York Jets:

Ford
1. Typical: This is an Idzik-ian move all the way. One of the NFL's top receivers is on the open market -- DeSean Jackson -- but general manager John Idzik avoids the big splash and takes a short-term flier on the fast, but injury-prone Ford. This won't increase Idzik's popularity among frustrated fans, but it's the kind of low-risk move that he likes. Jackson is too costly and has too much baggage.

2. Depth chart: Ford (57 career catches) won't start -- heck, he's not even a lock to make the team -- but he has one thing going for him: Speed. He ran a 4.28 in the 40 coming out of Clemson in 2010, and the current receiving corps lacked a true burner. The big question with Ford is his durability. He's made out of glass, having missed 26 games over the past three years. Considering the Jets' injuries at receiver in recent years, Ford doesn't exactly fit the profile of what they need at the position.

3. Special-teams impact: Ford, who has scored four times on kickoff returns in his career, becomes one of the leading candidates to replace Josh Cribbs. The Jets' return game lacked sizzle, and Ford can change that -- if healthy. It should be noted, though, that the value of kickoff returners has decreased because of the rule changes.

CB Patterson visits with Jets

March, 31, 2014
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In a radio interview last week, general manager John Idzik acknowledged the obvious, saying the New York Jets have a need at cornerback. With no attractive options left in free agency, he's down to the second- and third-tier players. One of those free agents, Dimitri Patterson, is visiting Monday with the Jets, a league source confirmed.

Patterson
Patterson, cut recently by the Miami Dolphins, is strictly a backup type. He has started only 20 games in eight years for six different teams. He also has durability questions, as he has played in only eight games over the past two seasons. He missed time last season with a groin injury and was placed on injured reserve late in the season. The Dolphins saved $5.4 million on the cap by releasing him.

He was limited to only six games (four starts) last season, but he actually played well. Patterson recorded four interceptions in 240 defensive snaps, one more than anybody in the Jets' secondary. He graded out well in the ProFootball Focus rankings, but he's not a plug-and-play corner who can replace Antonio Cromartie.

The Jets cut Cromartie, flirted with free agents Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, showed no interest in a reunion with Darrelle Revis ... and, well, now they have a gaping hole in the starting lineup. It's becoming increasingly obvious they will have to invest a high draft choice in a corner, one year after picking Dee Milliner ninth overall.

Patterson's visit was first reported by Pro Football Talk.

The latest on DeSean Jackson, CJ2K

March, 31, 2014
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Took a rare, two-day respite over the weekend, so let's bring you up to speed on what's going on with the New York Jets:

As of now, they don't appear to be pursuing DeSean Jackson. If they are, they're doing a nice job of keeping it quiet. There was no contact between the Jets and Jackson's agent during his first 24 hours of his free agency, according to multiple reports. Am I surprised? Yes and no.

Jackson
Johnson
Despite some definite interest within the organization (we know owner Woody Johnson likes him and he's not alone), Jackson doesn't seem to be a fit in John Idzik's rebuilding plan, mostly because of character concerns, potential cost and the fact that they already have a big-money wide receiver on the books, Eric Decker. It's also a receiver-rich draft. That said, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who coached Jackson with the Philadelphia Eagles, has endorsed the talented receiver -- and his opinion carries some weight. (See Michael Vick.) For that reason, I thought the Jets would at least make a due-diligence call.

Could they be lurking in the weeds, waiting for Jackson's asking price to drop? In the world of free agency, it's never over until the player signs on someone else's dotted line, so I wouldn't say the Jets are completely out of it. That the owner is interested (you know, the guy who signs the checks) leads me to believe there's still a chance. Of course, if they really wanted him, I think they would've tried to get him in the building ASAP. Jackson will visit the Washington Redskins on Monday; he reportedly is drawing some interest from the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills. You already know how I feel about Jackson: Despite his talent, he's not a fit for the Jets.

There's also some Chris Johnson chatter on this snowy Monday morning. The Tennessee Titans are expected to trade or release the former 2,000-yard running back before the start of off-season workouts next week. I heard some rumblings a couple of weeks ago about the Jets' potential interest in Johnson, mentioning it Saturday in my Twitter mailbag. The NFL Network took it a step further Monday morning, saying the Jets do have some interest.

This might surprise some people because running back is thought to be one of the Jets' strongest positions, but take a closer look. There are deficiencies in the backfield, mainly no home-run threat and durability questions. Chris Ivory was a beast late in the year, but he's never played a full season. Mike Goodson has the kind of speed they need, but he's coming off ACL surgery and still facing charges from last year's arrest. Bilal Powell is a solid No. 2, entering the final year of his contract.

There was some buzz about the Jets' interest in running backs at the scouting combine, and I was told they were high on Donald Brown and Ben Tate in free agency. The chatter faded away, but there apparently was a stealth pursuit of Brown. The Jets made a bid, the New York Daily News noted Monday, but they lost him to the San Diego Chargers.

Johnson would be a nice addition because he's still fast, only 28 and would command respect from opposing defenses. But don't get your hopes up just yet. The conservative Idzik likes to flirt with the big names, but more than not, it doesn't progress to the serious stage. You also have to wonder why Johnson would be interested in the Jets, where he'd probably be part of a two- or three-man committee.

One last note: Linebacker Nick Bellore, one of the Jets' top special teamers, signed his one year, $1.4 million tender.

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