New York Jets: New York Jets
"I never want to rule a guy out, but let's hope he practices soon," Ryan said. "Again, he has been away for a little while. I would like to see him practice obviously, but I am not going to say he for sure will not play until we get further along. I know he is pushing hard, but that fact that he is not even limited is a little bit of a concern."
Linebacker Nick Bellore (calf) was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. Safety Josh Bush (quadriceps) and linebacker IK Enemkpali (foot) did not practice. Antonio Allen (concussion) was a full participant, and Ryan said the converted safety will start at one cornerback spot against the Raiders.
As for Milliner, he did do some running and agility work on the side Wednesday and looked good doing so, although he was not going full speed and not cutting.
"I don’t know yet," Milliner said, when asked if he feels good enough to play Sunday. "I’m just doing what the trainers tell me to do, but I’ve been moving around pretty good."
He declined to put a percentage on how good he feels, but said the discomfort in his ankle has almost completely subsided. "There’s a little bit there, but not like it was," Milliner said.
Here are the full official Wednesday injury reports for both the Jets and Raiders:
Full practice: DB Antonio Allen (concussion)
Limited: LB Nick Bellore (calf)
DNP: DB Josh Bush (quadriceps), LB IK Enemkpali (foot), DB Dee Milliner (ankle)
Full practice: TE David Ausberry (knee), K Sebastian Janikowski (right quadriceps), CB Taiwan Jones (knee), QB Matt Schaub (right elbow), OT Menelik Watson (hip)
Limited: LB Nick Roach (concussion)
DNP: CB Chimdi Chekwa (knee)
Milliner (ankle) was working on the side, and appeared to be running comfortably. But he was not going full speed, nor cutting. It remains highly unlikely he will play in Sunday's regular -season opener against the Oakland Raiders.
Safety Josh Bush (quad) and linebacker IK Enemkpali (foot) were also in the rehab area, not participating in practice.
Tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles) and linebacker Nick Bellore (calf) began the day in the rehab area, but then joined their teammates on the field for position drills.
The first official injury report of the season will be released later Wednesday.
"We’ve been meeting," Ryan said. "We’re discussing all the things that go into making the cuts and things, but again, we’re not gonna make the announcements right now. Our list will probably be a complete list when we think it’s the appropriate time to do so."
The deadline for NFL teams to pare their rosters to 53 players is 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Some other news and notes from Ryan's conference call:
- A day after the Jets' 37-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the teams' preseason finale, Ryan wasn't any more impressed with his team's performance after watching the tape. "It was a poor performance without question, Ryan said. "I know our guys expect more. Our guys play extremely hard, they work hard and things. I think we ran out of gas a little bit. If I had to do it over, maybe I would have had a few more players up." The Jets held out practically all of their starters, and many of their key reserves, against the Eagles. The coach did praise the effort of third-string linebacker Trevor Reilly, second-string defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and second-string center Dalton Freeman. "But really, did anybody have a breakout game like a Calvin Pryor did his first game? I wouldn’t say so," Ryan said.
- Linebacker Nick Bellore (calf) and safety Josh Bush (quad) both suffered injuries against the Eagles -- neither injury sounds serious, but Ryan doesn't have a clear sense of how long they'll be out yet. Cornerback Johnny Patrick, who left the game with a head injury, must not have suffered a concussion, because Ryan said Patrick could have gone back in against the Eagles.
- In other injury news, Ryan said it's "still too early to tell" whether cornerback Dee Milliner (ankle) will be ready for the regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders a week from Sunday. "My understanding is he’s doing a good job with his treatment, but will he back back in time for the first game? I’m not sure yet." It sounds like safety-turned-cornerback Antonio Allen (concussion) might be closer to being ready for Week 1. "He seems to be progressing pretty nice," Ryan said. "I saw him out there running around today, so hopefully that’s a good sign." Ryan said Darrin Walls "had an outstanding training camp" and would likely start if Milliner can't go.
- Linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee) is still on the PUP list but has begun sprinting and could be activated in the near future. "He is really making strides and progressing to where hopefully, if it’s not now, hopefully it’ll be soon," Ryan said.
- Ryan again sidestepped a question about wideout Stephen Hill, the former second-round draft pick who appears to be on the bubble in terms of making the final roster. But Ryan did say the Jets could retain seven wide receivers, which would allow them to keep both Hill and Greg Salas in addition to Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson, and return men Saalim Hakim and Jalen Saunders. "I’m not going to rule out anything," Ryan said. "If you think you’re extremely strong at a certain spot, then maybe you keep those guys because they’re the best players. We’re going through all those scenarios now."
- Finally, Ryan was asked if he has spoken with suspended cornerback Dimitri Patterson since Patterson issued a statement Friday disputing the Jets' claim that he went AWOL for 48 hours. "No, I have not," Ryan said tersely, as the conference call came to a close.
Saalim Hakim, wide receiver/kick returner: Coach Rex Ryan called his team's performance "awful," and said, "It's hard to really pinpoint who really stepped up." Yet twice during his postgame press conference he spoke positively about Hakim -- particularly regarding his special-teams play. Hakim's spot on the 53-man roster seems pretty secure. He didn't catch a pass against the Eagles, but was the Jets' only kickoff returner, with three returns for 64 yards. And he stood out on the coverage units as well.
Jeremiah George, linebacker: When you give up 568 total yards of offense, including 276 yards on the ground, it's hard to find a standout on defense. But George was third on the team with seven tackles, including two of the Jets' four tackles for loss. The fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa State is still on the bubble in terms of a roster spot -- we'll see what happens come Saturday.
Chris Pantale, tight end: Pantale probably won't make the final roster, but he put a pretty good performance on tape in the preseason finale, with three catches for a team-high 74 yards, including a 50-yard catch and run in the first half. Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfeld are ahead of him on the depth chart here, but perhaps another team will be interested?
Alex Green, running back: Ryan held out Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, and gave the start to Daryl Richardson ahead of Green, which isn't a good sign. Then, once he got in there, Green fumbled twice, which may have sealed his fate.
Oday Aboushi, guard: Aboushi will make the roster, but he probably squandered an opportunity to take the starting left guard position away from Brian Winters. Ryan started both Winters and Aboushi against the Eagles -- Winters at left guard, and Aboushi at right guard. But Aboushi picked up a pair of 10-yard penalties in the first half -- one for holding, and one for illegal use of hands.
LeQuan Lewis, cornerback: Lewis looked good early, intercepting a Matt Barkley pass in the end zone in the first quarter to snuff out an Eagles scoring drive. But then he was burnt by Arrelious Benn on a 43-yard touchdown pass, and later gave up a 32-yard reception to Jeff Maehl. Lewis, who just signed with the Jets two weeks ago, may still make the roster but only because of the Jets' lack of depth at his position.
Following a first-down handoff to Daryl Richardson, Jets coach Rex Ryan called a timeout and sent third-string QB Matt Simms onto the field. Vick was handed a visor to replace his helmet, and when the fans in half-full Lincoln Financial Field gave him a hearty cheer as he left the field, Vick doffed the visor in thanks.
"It was great," Vick said. "It was very warm. It was what I expected and I'm glad it turned out that way. It goes to show that the things that you did do were greatly appreciated."
Vick spent the past five seasons with the Eagles before signing with the Jets as a free agent this past offseason. Ryan said it was his decision to send Vick out there, and then pull him after just one play.
"It was something that, obviously I know what Mike thinks about his time in Philadelphia, the people in Philadelphia and obviously I know how Philadelphia thought of Mike -- the city of Philly and the Eagle fans," Ryan said. "So I just thought it was an appropriate thing to do, kind of send him off that way."
Vick said he was surprised by the quick hook, and that he was prepared to play at least a quarter.
"As a competitor, you always want to play," Vick said. "My mindset was to go in to play, but it was abruptly brought to an end. It was [Ryan's] decision. I wasn't going to argue that."
The game was also a reunion of sorts for ex-Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, now the backup to Nick Foles with the Eagles. Sanchez's up-and-down five-year tenure with the Jets ended last season, which he spent on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury in a preseason game against the New York Giants.
Ryan was criticized by many for sending Sanchez into that game against the Giants behind a backup offensive line. But Ryan and Sanchez embraced on the field before Thursday's game.
"It was good," Ryan said. "I know he's had a real nice, strong preseason. So that's great to see. I wish nothing but the best for him. He's an outstanding young man and I really mean it. I hope he does well."
1. A sort of homecoming: Michael Vick will start at quarterback for the Jets, against the team he played for the past five seasons. It'll be interesting to see how he is received by the fans in Philadelphia. The Jets are sitting all their starters, and even Vick won't play for long. Ex-Jets starter Mark Sanchez is now the backup to Nick Foles in Philly, but Eagles coach Chip Kelly isn't planning to use either of his top two QBs in this game. Nevertheless, it'll be an opportunity for Sanchez and his former teammates and coaches to reconnect on the field before and after the game.
2. Last chance? One Jet who will play is wide receiver Stephen Hill, and his job appears to be on the line. The former second-round draft pick, a major disappointment in his first two years with the team, has just two catches for 29 yards in three preseason games. Fellow wideouts Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson are locks to make the final roster, and coach Rex Ryan talked up Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim on Tuesday, and fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders is currently tabbed as the team's No. 1 punt returner. Hill better make some plays Thursday, or else his Jets career could be over.
3. Around the corner: The Jets' lack of talent and depth at cornerback has been the biggest topic of conversation regarding the team during the preseason, and it could get ugly against the Eagles. Dee Milliner (ankle) is still out, and Dimitri Patterson has been suspended for the rest of the preseason. Third-round pick Dexter McDougle (knee) is out for the season, and converted safety Antonio Allen (concussion) is still out as well. Darrin Walls sat out practice Tuesday and will not play against the Eagles, and Ryan is holding nickel back Kyle Wilson out of this game, too. That leaves you with Ellis Lankster and LeQuan Lewis as your likely starters, with Johnny Patrick, Brandon Dixon and Jeremy Reeves as your reserves. Yikes.
Did the AFC East's best keep on getting better?
The perennial division champion New England Patriots signed elite cornerback Darrelle Revis, which could offset significant free-agency gains by the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
The Buffalo Bills are in good position to improve through this week's NFL draft. EJ Manuel, the Bills' top pick last season, returns as the starting quarterback and is one of three second-year players facing intense scrutiny in 2014.
Who finishes atop the AFC East in 2014 could depend largely on which team best handles the stretch run, as December features five inter-division matchups -- including three in a row for the Patriots to end the season.
The four writers who cover the division -- Rich Cimini in New York, Mike Reiss in New England, Mike Rodak in Buffalo and James Walker in Miami -- offered their insights on the AFC East offseason and other key topics. They also polled their Twitter followers to find out if they saw the issues differently.
Which AFC East team has had the best offseason to date?
Rich Cimini: I'm all about the stars, which is why I'm picking the Patriots, who landed the best free agent of them all: Darrelle Revis. He's one of the top two cornerbacks in the league, a legitimate game-changer. His presence will allow Bill Belichick to play more press-man coverage, which will help their pass rush and create headaches for opponents. Once Brandon Browner serves his suspension, they'll have two physical corners. The Jets and Dolphins helped themselves in free agency, addressing need areas, but neither team acquired a player as good as Revis. The Patriots lost a terrific corner in Aqib Talib and actually upgraded. How often does that happen in free agency?
Mike Rodak: Comparing gains and losses in free agency, the Patriots have fared the best. The season is never won in March, but the Patriots were able to upgrade even after losing cornerback Aqib Talib. Signing Darrelle Revis was the most significant free-agent move in the division, while Brandon Browner adds another quality player to the secondary. The Jets aren't too far behind. Eric Decker and Chris Johnson add firepower where the Jets have struggled in recent years -- at their skill positions. Neither player, though, is on the same level as Revis, which is why I give the Patriots the edge. Honorable mentions go to the Dolphins for signing Branden Albert and the Bills for signing Brandon Spikes.
James Walker: I like what the Jets have done this offseason. It has been offense, offense and more offense in free agency for New York. The Jets went out and signed wide receiver Eric Decker, former Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson and veteran quarterback Michael Vick. All three have a chance to make an impact on New York's weakest side of the football. Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a great defensive mind and has that side taken care of. It's just a matter of New York scoring more points this year. If the Jets can add a receiving threat such as Marqise Lee or Brandin Cooks in the first round Thursday, look out for "Gang Green."
Will an AFC East team select a quarterback in the first three rounds of the draft?
Cimini: No one will pick a quarterback in the first two days of the draft. The most likely candidate is the Dolphins, who have a new offensive coordinator and might be looking to acquire some Ryan Tannehill insurance after two so-so seasons -- but it won't happen before the fourth round, not this year. Neither Geno Smith nor EJ Manuel is entrenched with the Jets and Bills, respectively, but their teams have too many other needs to start doubling down on quarterbacks. The Patriots made headlines by hosting Johnny Manziel on a pre-draft visit, but I'm not buying it. It's still too early to start looking for an heir to the Tom Brady throne.
Rodak: The Patriots are the most likely to select a quarterback in the first three rounds. Their backup since 2011, Ryan Mallett, enters the final season of his rookie contract and hasn't proved in limited playing time that he's capable of being a starter. Mallett was a third-round selection and that could be the sweet spot for the Patriots again, although I wouldn't put it past them to take a quarterback in the second round if one of the top signal-callers falls. The Bills might also pluck a quarterback off the board by Friday night. EJ Manuel, a first-round pick last year, is their starter but they could use an upgrade over Thad Lewis or Jeff Tuel as their backup. If the right quarterback falls, Buffalo might pounce.
Walker: The third round seems like the best possibility; it's the safest round of the three for avoiding a quarterback controversy. The Bills would have the best case for drafting a quarterback fairly early. The team has said several times that it's behind 2013 first-round pick EJ Manuel, but I don't see any reason for the Bills to avoid adding depth at the position behind Manuel in the middle of the draft. Backup quarterbacks Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel are not the answers. Manuel had injury issues last year, as well. It makes sense for the Bills to consider a capable backup.
@RichCimini Pats and Mettenberger is a match made in heaven. Strong arm? Statue in pocket? Tall? Character/Injury concern? All check marks.- Bob (@Bobister) May 6, 2014
What stands out about the NFL schedule for each AFC East team?
Cimini: Prepare for the missiles of October. The Jets face Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in a 12-day span, Weeks 5 to 7. Before that, they meet up with a few other top quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. The Jets' suspect pass defense, which allowed nearly 4,000 yards last season, will be seriously tested. This is the main reason they need to prioritize cornerback in the draft.
Rodak: I've harped on this point before, but the Bills might have the NFL's toughest December schedule. Who knows where they'll be by Thanksgiving -- they could be in the playoff hunt or fading -- but their final month is brutal. The Bills must travel to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos, return home to host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, make a cross-country trip to face the Raiders and then head back East to finish their regular season on the road against Brady and the Patriots. Ouch. Perhaps it's better that this four-game stretch comes at the end of the season rather than the beginning -- the Bills could be staring down an 0-4 start if it did -- but if they have any hope at the playoffs, they're going to need to win a couple of those games.
Walker: The Dolphins must bring their A-game on the road because they do not have back-to-back home games until the final two weeks. The Dolphins were a respectable 4-4 on the road last season, but it will be challenging for them to put together any significant winning streaks away from Sun Life Stadium. Miami's regular-season opener at home against the Patriots also stands out. We will find out immediately whether the Dolphins are a legitimate threat to New England in the AFC East.
@JamesWalkerNFL the 4 game stretch playing the broncos jets ravens and pats. ultimately make or break us- Michael Broyles (@mikesdolphins) May 7, 2014
Which AFC East second-year player has the most to prove?
Cimini: My first inclination is to say Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who could lose his starting job to Michael Vick, but that's the Jets beat writer in me talking. The better answer is Bills quarterback EJ Manuel. Why him? Unlike Smith, Manuel was a first-round pick, which means greater expectations -- and those expectations were heightened when the Bills anointed him as The Guy. Smith has yet to receive that kind of endorsement from the Jets. The Bills have hitched their franchise to Manuel, who is coming off a mediocre-at-best rookie season in which he went 4-6 as the starter. He was hampered by injuries, but part of being a franchise quarterback is being on the field.
Rodak: It has to be EJ Manuel. Geno Smith is a close second, but the Jets have Michael Vick to lean on. The Bills decided not to add an experienced backup quarterback this offseason, clearing the way for Manuel to be their unquestioned starter. Manuel needs to be more consistent. He showed flashes last season but also had some downright horrid games, including a four-interception afternoon against the Buccaneers. Manuel must also stay healthy. His three knee injuries last season limited him to 10 games and set back his development. Another injury this season will cloud the picture and keep the Bills from knowing exactly what they have. That could give him more leeway if he isn't progressing as quickly as the team would like, but it could also cause the Bills to look elsewhere.
Walker: It's easy to point to the quarterback position and say New York's Geno Smith and Buffalo's EJ Manuel have the most to prove. But neither player was drafted higher in 2013 than Miami's Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick. The Dolphins traded up nine spots to get Jordan last year, only to use him as a backup defensive end and special-teamer. It was head-scratching to figure out why such a dynamic talent couldn't find his way onto the field. Jordan's usage actually was one point of contention between Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and former general manager Jeff Ireland, who had a falling out last season. Was Jordan not ready for the NFL level? Was Miami's coaching staff holding him back? This is a big Year 2 to answer those questions.
@MikeReiss. Dion Jordan his lack of production as a #3 pick especially when Miami drafted him to put pressure on Brady...gives him the nod- paul (@kurtzfam4) May 6, 2014
With Antonio Cromartie's release Sunday, only 11 players remain from the team that lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game (we're including free agents). That total is sure to shrink in the coming days. By the time we reach Week 1, it could be only seven holdovers.
A look at the Gang of 11:
Not going anywhere:
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left tackle
Nick Mangold, center
David Harris, linebacker
Jeff Cumberland, tight end
Nick Folk, kicker (franchise tag)
Tanner Purdum, long snapper
Kyle Wilson, cornerback
Calvin Pace, linebacker
Vladimir Ducasse, guard/tackle
Likely cap casualties:
Mark Sanchez, quarterback
Santonio Holmes, wide receiver
1. Is this really goodbye? There is the possibility of re-signing Cromartie down the road, according to a source, but I don't see that happening. I think Cromartie is done in New York. Unless he's willing to return on a modest, one-year contract, what sense does it make to commit to a 30-year-old cornerback with a chronic hip condition? Cromartie was terrible last season despite making the Pro Bowl as an alternate. (What a sham that was.) I give him major props for playing through the injury, but he was a liability at times. If he were a few years younger, yeah, you would bring him back, figuring the hip would heal. But he'll be 30 next month, and the combination of age and injury makes this a no-brainer. Cromartie relies on speed, not technique. If his speed is compromised, he's not the same player.
3. It had to be done: Cromartie told teammates at the end of the season that he expected to be a cap casualty, and he later articulated that view in a TV interview. When Cromartie restructured his contract last year, he pushed money into 2014, resulting in a bloated cap figure of $14.98 million. That included a prohibitive $5 million roster bonus, due this week. Obviously, there was no chance he'd remain on the team at those numbers. By cutting Cromartie, the Jets will have a $9.5 million cap savings. Now Cromartie can test his value on the open market, hoping to convince teams he's healthy and still explosive. A young and healthy Cromartie was always the best athlete on the field.
4. Dynamic duo ... gone: In 2010 and 2011, the Jets had one of the premier cornerback tandems in the league, Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, who missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury. In a span of 11 months, general manager John Idzik broke up the two-man band, trading Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and cutting Cromartie. He had better hope Milliner is the real deal, or else the defense is in big trouble.
5. As the Cro flies: Favorite Cromartie memory? That's easy. It was his 47-yard kickoff return in the 2010 wild-card game against the Indianapolis Colts. Basically, he won the game, putting Mark Sanchez & Co. in great field position and setting up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal as time expired. Cromartie wanted the ball in that spot, and the coaches gave it to him, knowing he could break a long one. He was capable of greatness, but too often he aggravated the coaches with his mental lapses. There was "good Cro and bad Cro," as former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine once said.
When it comes to New York/New Jersey real estate, Mark Sanchez should be a seller, not a buyer, right? After all, reports of his ouster have been circulating for months. But, wait: The Real Deal, which covers New York real-estate news, reports that Sanchez checked out a $4.2 million loft in Tribeca on Thursday.
The website uses an unnamed source, with the listing agent -- a gentlemen from Sotheby's International Realty -- declining to confirm the information. The apartment hit the market only two days ago.
Obvious question: Does this mean Sanchez expects to remain with the New York Jets? We're waiting to hear from the Sanchez camp, but there could be a number of explanations for his house-hunting adventure. Maybe he's looking for investment property. Maybe he's a Robert DeNiro fan and wants to be his neighbor in Tribeca. Who knows?
Sanchez's football future is up in the air. While it's not a foregone conclusion that he will be released, it's certainly a strong possibility. A lot depends on what happens during the first two weeks of free agency. If the Jets sign a veteran quarterback, perhaps Michael Vick or Josh McCown, Sanchez is a goner. If they strike out, they could see Sanchez as their best option. A significant hurdle would remain: Renegotiating his contract, which is due to pay him $11.5 million in 2014. Another issue is the condition of his surgically repaired shoulder.
Basically, the Jets have to make a decision by March 25, when a $2 million roster bonus is due. Yes, another Sanchez-Geno Smith competition would be awkward and potentially messy, but they can't leave themselves vulnerable again at the position, as they did last season.
The Jets have been tight-lipped on Sanchez's future.
Player: Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
2013 salary: $865,000.
Sign him up: McCown, who turns 36 in July, is the quintessential journeyman. He has played for five teams, and it looks like it will be six because his mid-30s renaissance last season probably priced him out of the Bears' budget for a backup. In terms of role acceptance, he would be a good fit for the Jets because he would push Geno Smith in a non-threatening way -- if that is what they're looking for. He would be David Garrard, sans the chronic knee condition. At this point in his career, McCown knows he won't be handed a starting job. He won't come cheaply; quarterbacks of McCown's ilk can cost a team about $4 million for the first year.
Reasons to stay away: His magical, five-game run last season screams "aberration!" McCown was a mediocre quarterback his entire career, finally finding something special under quarterback guru Marc Trestman. It also helped that he had a couple of stud receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; he wouldn't have that luxury with the Jets, that's for sure. McCown will parlay his right-time, right-place season into a relatively big payday, but it will be hard to duplicate last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars are possible suitors.
Lee was off the board for the Jets in McShay's previous mock draft (he had them taking Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks), but this time there's a run on defensive players from the 13th pick to the 17th, allowing Lee to fall. In this scenario, he'd be the third receiver selected, behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins (Oakland Raiders, No. 5) and Texas A&M's Mike Evans (Detroit Lions, No. 10). Interestingly, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron still is there for the Jets, which would make for an interesting choice. Obviously, the decision could be based on how they address those needs in free agency.
If the Jets take Lee, they'd be looking past his disappointing 2013 season, betting that his 2012 performance (he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver) is a better gauge of his talent. A similar situation unfolded in 2012. Defensive lineman Quinton Coples was a beast at North Carolina in 2010, but slipped the following year for a variety of reasons. He became a human pinata before the draft, with critics taking shots at him. The Jets chose him 16th overall. How's it working out? Too soon to say. Coples' physical talent is undeniable, but he has given credence to some of the pre-draft concerns by displaying a lukewarm motor at times. Lee's work ethic is said to be outstanding.
For a team picking 18th overall, the New York Jets sure have a lot of needs right now. That is a testament to the job coach Rex Ryan did with a limited talent base and an erratic rookie quarterback in Geno Smith.
This is another roster that will look much different on draft day than it does right now, but the only positions I can't see New York considering with this pick are quarterback, running back, center, left tackle and the defensive line. There is still much rebuilding to be done, but with the extreme strength of this draft, the Jets should find a very useful piece with the 18th pick.
Whom does McShay have the Jets drafting at No. 18? ? Let's take a look :
The New York Jets are rooting for cornerback Darrelle Revis to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When the Jets dealt Revis to the Bucs last April, they received a first-round pick (13th overall) and a conditional fourth-round choice that improves to a third-rounder if Revis is on the Bucs' roster for the third day of the 2014 league year -- March 13.
General manager John Idzik probably thought that was a gimme when he made the trade, but now there's speculation that Revis could be traded again. CBS Sports reported that the Bucs were approached at the scouting combine by teams inquiring about his availability. If the Bucs decide to move Revis, their motivation is to get it done by March 13, allowing them to retain their third-round pick.
It's not that hard to trade Revis because he signed a six-year, $96 million contract last year that included no guarantees, meaning no cap hit for the Bucs if they cut or trade him. New coach Lovie Smith is installing a Tampa-2 system -- not a good move for Revis' elite man-to-man skills -- another factor that has people wondering about a trade.
I thought the Bucs made a bad trade last year for Revis, who was coming off major knee surgery, and now it looks really bad. If they do ship him out, they wouldn't get the 13th pick (or anything close) in return. Maybe the Bucs realize what the Jets knew last year: Revis is a terrific player, but he's not worth a $16 million cap charge.
Could Revis return to the Jets? That's funny. Even if they cut Antonio Cromartie, I can't see them turning to Revis unless he gives them a huge discount -- and we all know that's not happening. The Jets are committed to Dee Milliner, and I have a feeling things will work out with Cromartie. Why would they want to go back to the bargaining table with a player who called their general manager a liar last spring? Why would Revis want to go back?
If the Bucs decide to trade him (a big "if" at this point), they'd look like idiots to send him back to the Jets, probably receiving 75 cents on the dollar. But they could impact the Jets by dealing him in the AFC East -- like, say, the New England Patriots, whose best corner, Aqib Talib, is set to become a free agent.
1. Good hands people: This is one of those years where the Jets' top need marries with the strength of the draft. Everybody knows they want to rebuild at wide receiver, and the combine reinforced the widespread belief that receiver is perhaps the deepest position. Nearly all of the top wideouts performed well in drills, with Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) helping themselves the most. The Jets should be able to get a quality wideout with the 18th pick if they opt to go that route. The abundance of receivers could impact how they approach free agency.
2. Thin at tight end: The Jets may have to think twice about filling their tight-end need in the draft. North Carolina's Eric Ebron solidified his standing as the top tight end with a strong performance, but some of the other top prospects were limited by injuries. For players such as Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington), it means their pro days will carry greater importance. It's not a terribly deep position anyway.
3. Sanchez saga: The Jets met with Mark Sanchez's reps to discuss the quarterback's future. Nothing was settled, but Sanchez will be rehabbing in New Jersey this week, giving the Jets a chance to monitor his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder. One source said the chances of Sanchez returning are about 20 to 30 percent. Obviously, he'd have to accept a large pay cut. Look for this to play out until March 25, when a $2 million roster bonus is due -- or until they find his replacement.
4. Higher salary cap: The Jets aren't facing a cap squeeze, but it's always nice to have extra flexibility. The combine began with one report projecting the cap would increase to $130 million, up from $123 million last year. Then came another report saying it would be $132 million. The final number will be announced in the coming days. Either way, the Jets will have the ability to be aggressive in free agency. It'll be a departure from last year, when they were forced to bargain-shop.
5. Meet and greet: Teams were permitted to conduct 60 formal interviews at the combine. The Jets met with many of the top players, including Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, but don't put too much stock in these sitdowns. It's called due diligence. They will conduct hundreds of player interviews by draft day. In some cases, the combine interview is just a starting point. Example: The Jets weren't blown away by Geno Smith last year, but they scheduled a follow-up on the eve of his pro day. That's when they became more comfortable with him.