New York Jets: Darrelle Revis

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' meandering search to replace cornerback Antonio Cromartie included flirtations with Vontae Davis (a rejection) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had the audacity to take an offer from the New York Giants. Despite some pro-Darrelle Revis sentiment in the organization, the Jets decided not to pursue Revis 2.0. In the end, they made Dimitri Patterson their Big Free-Agent Cornerback.

The response from Jets Nation?

A collective groan.

Patterson
Who?

Patterson understands the sentiment, but he has a message for the skeptics: I'm just as good as the big names.

"Fans like high profiles. I don't have a high profile, but my film is legit," he said during a break at training camp. "When the season comes, I'll show everyone why I've been in the league so long.

"Vontae and all those guys, they were first-round picks," Patterson continued. "That's all cool, but as far as ability and responsibility, are they asked to do more than I've been asked to do over nine years? No. Have they been more productive on the perimeter? No, that's not the case at all. My tape shows that it's just a matter of me coming out and showing fans, 'Hey, let me show you.'"

The Jets have an interesting pair of cornerbacks. Dee Milliner thinks he's the best in the NFL (child, please) and Patterson, with his sixth team in 10 years, believe he was one of the biggest steals in free agency. The Jets signed him for one year, $3 million. If they turn out to be right, they will have their best cornerback tandem since 2011, when it was Revis and Cromartie.

Patterson said he has no intention of tainting the Jets' reputation at corner.

"There's a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie," he said. "They were consistently competitive, year-in, year-out, with those guys at corner, so there's a standard that has been set. That's what the fans are accustomed to, so it's only natural to be concerned. My message to them is, don't be concerned."

Patterson is one confident dude for someone who hasn't played much in recent years due to injuries. In fact, he's missed 32 games the last three seasons (the last two with the Miami Dolphins), but he believes in his ability and he believes he's an ideal fit in the Jets' man-to-man scheme.

"Jets fans aren't familiar with me -- they don't have game tape -- so they have to trust that John Idzik and Rex (Ryan) did their due diligence, researching me," Patterson said. "If my résumé said, 'Cover-2, zone corner,' I wouldn't be here."

To get a complete evaluation of Patterson, the Jets had to study his pre-2012 tape. They see a savvy corner with elite ball skills and versatility, capable of playing outside or in the slot. Opposing scouts say he's much better in the slot, that it might be a stretch to play him on the perimeter.

"The guy understands the game and he understands the big picture, and you don't find a lot of guys like that," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.

Ryan said they didn't sign Patterson because he was the last man standing in the free-agent pool, claiming he was on their radar from the outset. Idzik probably didn't want to spend money on a big name, so he took the cheaper route -- a one-year stop gap and a draft pick (Dexter McDougle in the third round). It's risky, considering all the top quarterbacks they face in the first two months of the season. If the Jets get torched, oh, boy, the decision makers will get criticized.

Don't worry, Patterson said.

"I'll show the fans," he said.

Training camp preview: Secondary

July, 21, 2014
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Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:

Position: Secondary

Patterson
Projected starters: Dee Milliner (CB), Dimitri Patterson (CB), Kyle Wilson (slot), Dawan Landry (S), Calvin Pryor (S).

Projected reserves: Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Dexter McDougle, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster.

Notables on the bubble: Josh Bush, Ras-I Dowling, Rontez Miles, Brandon Dixon (sixth-round pick).

Player to watch: Pryor. He was drafted 18th overall for a reason, and the reason is because the Jets believe he can be a great safety. Rex Ryan calls him an enforcer, comparing him to the late Jack Tatum. Ryan meant well, but he may have put a target on Pryor's back by putting him in the same sentence as one of the most notorious hitters in NFL history. He'll bring a physical, tough-guy element to the secondary, but what the secondary really needs is big plays -- interceptions, forced fumbles, anything. The secondary frightened no one last season.

Milliner
Top storyline: Did general manager John Idzik leave Ryan short at cornerback? It was one of the greatest cornerback classes in free-agent history and the Jets ended up with ... Patterson, a journeyman. Patterson, 31, with his sixth team, has natural ball skills, but he's never on the field long enough to use them. He has missed 33 of his last 48 games due to injuries. Ryan needs corners for his defense the way humans need water to survive. Milliner holds the key. If he becomes a legitimate No. 1 corner -- dare we say shutdown corner? -- it changes the face of the secondary. For the first time since 2006, the Jets don't have someone named Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie at corner. They need Milliner to ascend to that status.

Training camp will be a success if ... : Pryor is in the Week 1 lineup. The coaches say he's a smart cookie, but we'll see how he adapts when the pads go on and the playbook installation intensifies. It would be a major disappointment if he's not an immediate starter, considering his draft position and the relatively tame competition at safety.

Wild card: Landry's role. He played 98 percent of the defensive snaps last season, but he could lose his starting job if the Pryor-Allen tandem flourishes. Landry, known as "The Mentor," has value because of his smarts. But at what point does intelligence get trumped by youth and speed? It'll be a delicate balancing act in camp. The coaches have to get Landry ready while giving the Pryor-Allen duo a chance to develop chemistry.

By the numbers: The Jets' pass defense wasn't bad last season against three- and four-receiver groupings -- a 77.1 passer rating, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They struggled when it was only two receivers -- 103.9 rating.

Jets notes: QB job should be 'open'

June, 1, 2014
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Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Another QB question to ponder: With everyone engaged in a semantic debate on whether the Jets' quarterback competition is open or closed (let's call it semi-closed), let me pose this question: Why not make it a truly open competition and bill it as such?

Yes, Geno Smith showed promise at the end of last season, but he doesn't have enough pelts on the wall to be granted front-runner status. True, Michael Vick arrived in town with baggage (age, durability and turnover concerns), but his body of work warrants a 50-50 shot at the starting job. Not only would an open competition eliminate confusion, but it would create a "best-man-wins" scenario.

The Jets are traveling down a slippery slope by tilting it in Smith's favor, because there's a good possibility Vick will outplay him in the preseason. Then what? Everybody knows the expression, "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." It applies to the Jets' quarterback situation. In their case, you can't have your competition and have a predetermined favorite, especially when the other guy might be better. You're just asking for trouble.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
AP Photo/Julio CortezMichael Vick has proven to have the respect of his Jets teammates during offseason workouts.
2. Low-budget signings: The Jets didn't exactly break the bank with their undrafted free agents. Teams were allocated to spend up to $80,362 in signing bonuses, but the Jets doled out only $4,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Defensive end Anthony Grady ($2,500) and fullback Chad Young ($1,500) were the only UDFAs to receive a signing bonus; the other five got zilch. The size of the bonus often indicates the quality of the player. When multiple teams are bidding, top UDFAs have been known to land more than $10,000. Two years ago, nose tackle Damon Harrison received a $7,000 bonus from the Jets. Because of their unusually large draft class (12), the Jets placed less emphasis on the UDFA market. Basically, it was an afterthought.

3. Rex tweaks Tim: Ryan took a veiled shot at Tim Tebow the other day. Trying to defend Eric Decker against the perception that he's a Peyton Manning creation, Ryan reminded us that Decker caught touchdown passes from Tebow in 2011. "I think that's pretty impressive," Ryan said, thinking it was eight scoring catches (it was actually four). The inference was clear: If Decker scored with the scatter-armed Tebow, he can score with anyone. Ryan neglected to mention that Decker had no receptions and two drops in five targets when he and Tebow faced the Jets in that same season.

4. Where's the depth?: Right guard Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) is expected to return before training camp, so there's no reason for the Jets to panic, but the injury casts a harsh light on their offensive line depth. Their nine backups have played a combined total of 14 regular-season snaps -- all by center/guard Caleb Schlauderaff. That's a bit troubling, no? Considering Colon's durability issues (four surgeries in the last four years), the front office should sign some veteran insurance. Never thought I'd say this, but ... where's Vladimir Ducasse when you need him?

4a. New kind of surgery: Loved this tweet from one of my followers, @MisterRoberts, who refers to Colon's surgery as a "Colon-oscopy." Brilliant.

5. From enemies to comrades: Four months ago, Decker and Breno Giacomini played on opposite sides of one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history. Giacomini's Seattle Seahawks embarrassed Decker's Broncos, 43-8. Now they're teammates. I asked Giacomini if they've talked about the game. A little trash talking, perhaps? He said there was a brief lunch-room conversation. Giacomini said he asked Decker about the first play of the game, the errant shotgun snap that resulted in a safety. Decker chalked it up to the noise generated by the pro-Seattle crowd at MetLife Stadium. And that was the end of the conversation. Touchy subject, obviously.

"I didn't want to say anything else to him," Giacomini said. "That's behind us, we're teammates now. Hopefully, we can reach it again -- together -- and win another one."

6. The Fridge, Part II?: You have to love Sheldon Richardson's candor and sense of humor. Asked if he hopes to continue in his role as a goal-line running back, Richardson said, "It was a fun experience. Hopefully, they call my number again." He quickly added, "Hopefully not, because it means the offense is doing what they're supposed to do."

There's some truth in his humor; this was a problem area last season. Richardson (two) and Geno Smith (six) combined for eight of the 12 rushing touchdowns. For all his power, Chris Ivory scored only one touchdown on six attempts on goal-to-go runs from the 5-yard line or closer, per ESPN Stats. That's not Chris Johnson's forte, either. He received only one such carry last season (a 3-yard touchdown). Be ready, Sheldon.

7. Respect for elders: Ryan has been around football for his entire life, which means he has seen and heard just about everything. One day recently, though, he heard something from the offensive huddle that struck him as unusual. Vick told one of the young fullbacks to run a certain pass route and the player (Ryan wouldn't identify him) responded with, "Yes, sir." They have only two fullbacks, so it was either Tommy Bohanon or Chad Young. Said Ryan: "I don’t know if I’ve heard that in a long time with a teammate talking to another teammate. [Vick] certainly has that kind of respect in the locker room."

8. Pinocchio Island: Did anyone check to see if Darrelle Revis' nose was growing when he spoke glowingly the other day about Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way? Once upon a time, Revis called Belichick a "jerk." Yes, free agency makes for strange bedfellows.

9. Broadway Joe to Hollywood Joe: A movie on the life of Joe Namath is in the early stages of development. James Mangold, who directed the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," already is on board as the director, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Here's hoping they get Ann-Margret to play herself.

10. The Mo, the better: Kudos to Muhammad Wilkerson, who will present five student-athletes from New Jersey and Long Island with $1,000 college scholarships. Wilkerson, giving back to his local roots, grew up in Linden, N.J. He's making the donations through his T.E.A.M 96 Foundation.

11. Futbol and football: Portugal's national soccer team, led by global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, will train at the Jets' facility from Tuesday through June 9 in preparation for the World Cup. The team's stay in the area will be capped by a June 10 exhibition against Ireland at MetLife Stadium. Paulo Bento, the Portugal coach, already has visited the Jets' facility in Florham, N.J., declaring "the pitches are very good." With the World Cup approaching, I wonder if Bento still has open competition for each starting job.

Twitter mailbag: Rex's draft power

May, 3, 2014
May 3
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Our last Twitter mailbag before the draft. Here we go.

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Good morning, New York Jets fans. One year ago, your favorite team traded its best player.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets appear to have made the right move in trading cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
Yes, April 21 is the first anniversary of the Darrelle Revis trade, a highly controversial move in which John Idzik -- in his first significant decision as the general manager -- sent the then-injured cornerback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because owner Woody Johnson refused to meet the player's asking price on a new contract, $16 million per year.

After months of speculation, fans awoke on a Sunday morning to the news that Revis was en route to Tampa to take a physical. Within a couple of hours, it was a done deal, one that will be debated for years. One year later, our take on the winners and losers from the trade:

Winner -- The Jets. Philosophically, it was the right move because no cornerback is worth $16 million a year, but the right move doesn't always work out. In this case, it did. They used the 2013 draft-pick compensation (13th overall) to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. They also landed a fourth-round choice in the upcoming draft. To grade the trade mainly on Richardson's performance, however, isn't fair. If the Jets had kept Revis, they wouldn't have needed a cornerback, so they probably would've picked Richardson with their own choice (ninth overall) instead of Dee Milliner. So, when evaluating the trade, Milliner has to be included -- and he was shaky as a rookie.

Loser -- The Bucs. You can bet they're not celebrating the anniversary in Tampa. It was an ill-advised trade when they made it, and it turned into an all-time bust. The Bucs, under new leadership, decided to cut Revis after only one season. After all the hype, he was just a one-year rental. In the end, the trade cost them a mid-first-round pick and $16 million, and the result was a 4-12 record and pink slips for coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik.

Wealthy loser -- Revis. Financially, he made out nicely, making $10 million more from the Bucs than he would've received from the Jets in 2013 -- not a bad raise for a guy coming off ACL surgery. His unexpected trip to free agency allowed him to make another score, landing $12 million from the New England Patriots. Despite a two-year, $29 million haul (including a $1 million roster bonus from the Jets before the trade), Revis has become a hired gun, a well-to-do journeyman who probably will spend the rest of his career going year to year and team to team. It's too bad because he could've gone down as one of the best and most beloved players in Jets history.

Winners -- The quarterbacks and pass-catchers who faced the Jets. Even though the Jets will benefit from the trade over the long haul, they suffered in the short term, missing Revis' presence in the secondary. The Jets allowed a staggering 3,947 passing yards, a 900-yard increase from the previous year and the most allowed by the franchise since 1986. It was a stain on Rex Ryan's sterling record as a defensive mastermind.

Loser -- Antonio Cromartie. Without Revis, Cromartie became the No. 1 cornerback and was often responsible for covering the opponents' top wideout. He was torched on a fairly regular basis, contributing to his release at the end of the season. He had to settle for a one-year, $3.5 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals.

W2W4: Jets begin off-season program

April, 20, 2014
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Nearly four months removed from the feel-good finish to their 8-8 season, the New York Jets return to work Monday for the official start of the offseason -- a nine-week program that gradually increases in intensity and culminates with a mandatory minicamp, June 17-19.

The offseason program is voluntary (wink, wink), although many players are required to attend to collect workout bonuses. The Jets' top storylines:

Smith
Vick
Vick
1. A new locker room culture: The Jets dumped three high-profile players, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, all of whom wielded considerable influence in the locker room (for better or worse). The team will experience a natural change in leadership as the new players are integrated. The most compelling dynamic will be the Geno Smith-Michael Vick relationship and how it impacts the team. Smith won the team's respect last season with his resilience; Vick will command it as soon as he walks in the door.

2. The quarterback competition: It will take four months to decide Smith vs. Vick, but you can bet every pass, every action and every word uttered by them and their teammates will be micr0-analyzed by the media. Practices (OTAs) don't start until May 27, so prepare for five weeks of rhetoric, followed by pass-by-pass analysis on Twitter. Hey, it's New York and we love a good quarterback controversy. The pre-camp favorite? All things being equal, Smith gets the job, but Vick has a lot going for him and could outplay Smith in the preseason. Presumably, the Jets won't botch the competition this time, allowing them to -- you know -- actually declare a winner.

3. Sophs under the microscope: The offseason program always is important for second-year players because ... well, it's their first full offseason in the NFL. For cornerback Dee Milliner and guard Brian Winters, it's doubly important. Milliner was forced to sit out last year's workouts because he was recovering from pre-draft shoulder surgery, putting him behind everybody -- and it showed. For Winters, who played tackle in college, this will be his first offseason to train as a guard, where he struggled for most of his rookie season.

4. Learning MartyBall: It's a new-look offense, with possibly four new starters -- Vick, running back Chris Johnson, wide receiver Eric Decker and right tackle Breno Giacomini. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg set a foundation last season in Year 1 of his system, but he may have to circle back because there are so many new pieces -- and that number will grow after the draft. Vick's familiarity with Mornhinweg's offense will help a lot because it means every quarterback in the room knows the system, an important springboard in any offseason.

5. Blissfully quiet: A year ago, the Jets and Darrelle Revis' camp were locked in a dispute over whether the star cornerback had to work out with the team to collect bonus money. It didn't last long, as Revis was sent packing. There are no such distractions this year -- yet.
Say this for Muhammad Wilkerson: He's consistent when it comes to discussing his future with the New York Jets. He's sticking with the "Jet-for-life" stance, which probably sends shivers through the fan base because Darrelle Revis used to say the same thing -- and look what happened to him.

"I told (the front office) at the end of the year last year that I want to be a Jet -- a Jet for life,” Wilkerson told the New York Post on Thursday. “I’m from the area (Linden, N.J.), I’m a local guy, so I would love to be here and finish my career here.”

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsWith the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
Back in October, Wilkerson gave the same response, almost verbatim, in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com. Like we said, he's consistent. Some might say he's hurting his leverage by professing his devotion to the Jets, but that's not the case at all. It's actually a smart approach from a public-relations standpoint because it shifts the focus to the Jets, who, in terms of public perception, bear the onus of making him a Jet for life.

So what are the chances of them locking up their best player to a long-term extension before the start of the season? Let's examine the situation:

Wilkerson is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, due to make $1.2 million. By May 3, the Jets are expected to exercise a fifth-year option that will set his 2015 salary somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range. (For players drafted from 11th through 32nd in 2011, the fifth-year salary is the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, excluding the top three.)

In essence, the Jets are under no sense of urgency to renegotiate Wilkerson's deal because they will have him under contract for two more years. Actually, you might say three years because they can slap him with the franchise tag in 2016. Do the math, and it comes out to three years for about $19.8 million, based on the current franchise-tag amount for a defensive end. For the Jets, that's a heck of a bargain for one of the top, young defensive players in the league.

The only motivation for the Jets to re-work his contract this year is if he accepts a team-friendly deal. Wilkerson's only leverage is to stage a holdout, but he reiterated in his interview with the New York Post that he has no intention of going that route. (Unlike his Jet-for-life comment, his recent no-holdout statements have weakened his bargaining power.) He'd be taking a risk by playing for $1.2 million because the fifth-year option isn't fully guaranteed until the fifth day of the 2015 league year. It's partially guaranteed (for injury only) as soon as the team picks up the option. General manager John Idzik hasn't revealed his plans, but it's a no-brainer.

Even though Wilkerson is operating under a different set of rules (the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011), his situation is similar to the Revis drama of 2010. Entering his fourth season, Revis refused to play for $1 million, staging a long and nasty holdout.

Wilkerson reiterated that he won't pull a Revis.

“I’m not holding out," he told the Post. "My agent is talking with Idzik, and that’s all I can say. I have nothing to do with that. I’m just going to let him take care of that. That’s his job. I’m just here to play ball."

The Jets should do the right thing and take care of Wilkerson before his contract becomes an issue, taking advantage of their significant cap space, but it's a bottom-line business. Teams are rarely motivated to make their players happy unless they get something out of it as well.

Sunday notes: The need for speed

April, 6, 2014
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A few thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. With the 18th pick ...: The Jets still need receivers and there should be a few good ones available with their first-round pick. The three most commonly mentioned possibilities are LSU's Odell Beckham Jr., Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and USC's Marqise Lee. I asked ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. to give his take on which one would be the best fit for the Jets, and he said Beckham and Cooks.

"[Beckham], as a pure receiver, with his hands, his character, his attitude, his approach -- he’s outstanding," Kiper said. "Lee, you roll the dice a little. I don’t know if he’s as fast as they would want. ... In terms of just explosiveness, it would be Beckham or Cooks. Both can really fly. Beckham can be a No. 1, Cooks could be a great slot receiver. I see Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks as ideal fits for the Jets."

I think speed is really important to the Jets because ... well, there's a lack of it on offense. Also, after signing the big-bodied Eric Decker, they need a burner to complement him, allowing the shifty and elusive Jeremy Kerley to play the slot. They've done a lot of homework on Lee and Cooks. In fact, they dispatched offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to their pro days on the West Coast. Cooks is scheduled to take a pre-draft visit, as is Beckham. They have plenty of intel on Beckham, as new special-teams coach Thomas McGaughey spent the past three years on the LSU staff.

2. Mel's lucky seven: From Kiper's vantage point (and many scouts agree), there are seven elite players in the draft. "The Super Seven," Kiper said. In no particular order, they are: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebacker Khalil Mack, offensive linemen Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan, and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. If I were the Houston Texans, holding the No. 1 pick, I'd take Clowney and never look back.

3. How the mighty are falling: In 15 months as general manager, John Idzik has parted ways with three of Mike Tannenbaum's nine first-round draft picks -- Darrelle Revis (trade), Dustin Keller (free agent) and Mark Sanchez (cut). Next on the hot seat is Kyle Wilson, who is entering the final year of his contract. They've already sent a message to Wilson, acquiring two slot corners -- Dimitri Patterson and Johnny Patrick. (They also lost one, Isaiah Trufant.) The activity has fueled speculation in league circles that Wilson is on the way out. That's premature -- the Jets aren't thinking that way -- but it'll be interesting to see how it shakes out if they draft a cornerback in the first or second round, a definite possibility.

"[Wilson] makes no plays," an AFC scout said.

In four seasons, mostly in the slot, Wilson has played in 2,195 defensive snaps and has made only six impact plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He's a durable, hard-working player, but it's all about making plays. Clearly, the organization has added competition, so Wilson will have to raise his game if he wants to play out his contract in New York.

4. Raising the Barr: I think one of the most talked about players in the Jets' draft room will be UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, who has the physical traits to be an outstanding speed-rusher -- and the Jets need one of those. Barr is projected to be picked in the 15 to 20 range, according to Kiper. The downside is that Barr was an H-Back until 2012, and the lack of experience on defense shows up despite impressive stats (10 sacks last season).

"He's a very intriguing guy," Kiper said. "There's a lot of polarization, a lot of mixed opinion. You can see the inexperience. You can see he doesn't always look like he understands how to play on the defensive side. He has a lot to learn, but he has a lot of talent."

My hunch: The Jets will pick a receiver or a corner at 18, maybe a tight end if North Carolina's Eric Ebron slips.

5. Ancient history: For what it's worth (probably not much at this point), the Jets really loved Chris Johnson in the 2008 draft. He ended up going 24th, 18 spots after Vernon Gholston and six spots ahead of where they traded up to pick Dustin Keller. Sorry about the Gholston reference; I know it causes agita among fans.

6. Potential Johnson fallout: If the Jets sign Johnson -- knowing Idzik's style, I'll believe it when I see it -- they'd have five veteran running backs. The most expendable player would be Mike Goodson, recovering from ACL surgery and still entangled in his legal issues. He's counting $1.3 million on the cap, and they could save $720,000 by releasing him. He also has a $650,000 roster bonus written into the contract, but it was restructured in such a way that he doesn't get the money unless he's on the roster, injured reserve or PUP for 16 games. Bottom line: They can cut him without much fuss or muss.

7. Pre-draft visits: Each team is allowed to conduct 30 visits with non-local prospects. We in the media tend to overplay these visits, looking for a quick headline. They don't always mean the team is interested. In some cases, the team could be looking for a specific piece of information on a player they didn't get a chance to interview on the scouting circuit. Teams also have been known to use pre-draft visits to feign interest in players, hoping to disguise their draft intentions. In most cases, though, the objective is to learn more about the players. The Jets learned a lot a few years ago, when a highly regarded prospect (sorry, can't use his name) fell asleep while waiting outside Tannenbaum's office. Obviously, that was a major turn-off. The player ended up being a first-round pick by an AFC East team, and he still plays for that team.

7.a. Speaking of visits ...: Some of the bigger names on the Jets' visit list are Beckham, Cooks, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby.

8. Hanging with the cool kids: The Jets are the 16th-most popular team among the major sports, according to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com blog -- now part of ESPN. How does he arrive at that conclusion? His definition of popularity is based on the number of Google searches. The New York Yankees (5.83 million) and Boston Red Sox (5.69 million) lead the way. The top NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys (4.45 million), followed by the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings and Jets.

Pace stunned by Revis signing with Pats

March, 19, 2014
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A lot of people expected former New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis to sign with the New England Patriots. Calvin Pace wasn't one of them.

"That's the last place I ever expected him to go play at," Pace said Wednesday, adding that it's a "good situation" for Revis.

Pace, speaking to reporters a day after signing his two-year, $5 million contract, admitted he has mixed feelings about the Jets' current cornerback situation. Asked if he's concerned about the gaping hole (Antonio Cromartie's old spot), Pace said, "Yes and no." He said he has faith in the current players on the roster, but he's rooting for a Cromartie return. Pace was in the same situation last year. He was released for cap purposes and later re-signed for less money.

"It's sad to see Cro leave," he said. "Hopefully, we can get him back. I hope that’s in the plan. … I've been following what's going on. I know they had (Dominique) Rodgers-Cromartie in and it didn’t work out. You have to be patient. Hopefully, the fans can be patient. There is a plan. There is a method to this madness of free agency."

As for his own situation, Pace said he never wanted to sign elsewhere during free agency. Unless something crazy happens over the next few months, he'll go into training camp as the starting strong-side linebacker. He posted a career-high 10 sacks last season.

"I knew where I wanted to be," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there's not a whole lot of interest for a 33-year-old player. That's just the way things are these days. I'm fine with that. I'm blessed to be where I wanted to be."

Cornerback crisis puts Rex on edge

March, 17, 2014
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The New York Jets' current cornerback crisis reminds me of an anecdote shared by former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. This was back in April 2010, when they had just used their first-round pick on cornerback Kyle Wilson. They already had Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, so there was some question about the wisdom of adding another corner.
Ryan
Tannenbaum recalled a conversation with Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. When he hired Rex Ryan from the Ravens' staff in 2009, Tannenbaum asked Newsome what to expect.

"(Newsome) said, 'I'm shipping him up I-95, and he has a little sign around his neck that says, 'I need corners,'" Tannenbaum said at the time. "That's just who Rex is. He cannot have enough corners."

So it doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand how Ryan is feeling these days: He's freaking out.

The Jets cut Cromartie (an expected move), showed no interest in Revis when he became a free agent and haven't added any veteran corners. (Sorry, we're not counting San Diego Chargers castoff Johnny Patrick.) Their top corners, as we speak, are Dee Milliner, Wilson, Patrick and Darrin Walls.

Oh, boy.

Free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie visited Saturday before heading over to the New York Giants for a sitdown. He's the best available corner in a thinned-out market. He's far from perfect (he was awful for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012), but he's 28 years old, can play man-to-man and is coming off a good season with the Denver Broncos. He might not be a 10, but when an 8 hangs out with a bunch of 5s and 6s, he looks like a super hero. (Kind of reminds me of that funny nightclub scene in "Hall Pass," a very under-rated movie, if I must say.)

The ESPN free-agent tracker rates Rodgers-Cromartie, Dimitri Patterson (cut by the Miami Dolphins) and Carlos Rogers (cut by the San Francisco 49ers) as the best available corners. I'd add Cromartie to that list.

The tracker scouting reports:

Rodgers-Cromartie: "One of the best corners on the market, Rodgers-Cromartie was a solid starter on a unit that struggled in 2013. He has good size, and his length and ball skills allow him the chance to make a lot of plays. On film it looks like his pedal and turn are not always consistent, which is why he gets beaten deep too often, but he will show some good flashes in man coverage and can be effective in sub packages. He can be susceptible to double moves."

Patterson: "Patterson has very good ball skills and the route recognition to play man-to-man defense as a perimeter cornerback. Was productive when he played in 2013 but a groin injury limited him and eventually led to him being placed on injured reserve. Does not have great size or length but can be a short-term starting option for a defensive back-needy team."

Rogers: "A soon-to-be 33-year old who is now best suited to handle slot duties after several productive seasons with both Washington and then San Francisco. Rogers' injury issues have been concerning in recent seasons, and after a standout 2011, he's regressed in overall play. He has strong ball skills but lacks the burst to stick with wideouts on the perimeter."

Sunday notes: The Jets' new reality-TV star

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
11:00
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A few thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Reality bites: The irony of the Eric Decker signing is that general manager John Idzik, who has spent a year trying to eliminate the Jets' "Hard Knocks" image, took on a player with his own reality TV show. Decker and his wife, country singer Jessie James, are preparing for their second season on E!'s "Eric and Jessie: Game on." The season premiere is March 30. His former team, the Denver Broncos, said last year it had no problem with Decker doing the show. "To each his own," team exec John Elway said.

[+] EnlargeEric Decker
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliIt doesn't appear that new Jets receiver Eric Decker's reality show was a huge deterrent in the team's decision to sign him.
Privately, the organization wasn't thrilled, especially when Decker's impending free agency was mentioned in one of the early shows. It wasn't a distraction to the team because there were no cameras at the facility. Obviously, it didn't affect Decker, as he finished with 87 receptions for 1,288 yards. It was one if E!'s top-rated new shows, so they booked another season -- obviously, long before he signed his five-year, $36.25 million contract with the Jets. The network didn't waste any time jumping on the New York angle, releasing new promos: "New Team, New City (and coming soon), New Baby."

Some people wonder if Decker picked the Jets over the Indianapolis Colts because he wanted to raise the show's profile by playing in the No. 1 media market. He downplayed that notion, saying he picked the Jets with football in mind. As for his wife's input, Decker said, "She obviously wants what’s best for me in my profession. She spent a lot of time in New York with her career when she was younger, and she's excited again to have an opportunity to work now again and to be able to have some resources and things. I think that overall it is a great decision and place for us as a family and career wise."

Idzik isn't a show-biz kind of guy, and I find it hard to believe he likes the idea of a player having his own show. It creates the perception that he's bigger than the team. But in the end, the No. 1 reality was this: Idzik was willing to put aside any concerns to land their top-rated free-agent receiver. The GM hasn't been made available to comment on any of his signings.

2. Decker vs. Holmes: Not to pick on Santonio Holmes or anything, but ...

Decker produced five 100-yard receiving games last season, one more than Holmes managed in four years with the Jets. Decker is counting $4 million on this year's cap, $6.5 million less than Holmes would've counted. Just saying.

3. Strength in numbers: The Jets have six experienced wide receivers under contract, and they could add another two through free agency and the draft. Overkill? Not really. Teams always look beyond the current year when making personnel moves, and when the Jets look at 2015, they see only two of those six receivers under contract -- Decker and Stephen Hill. That's why stockpiling makes sense.

4. Go west, men: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg , accompanied by two members of the scouting department, attended two important pro days on the West Coast -- USC and Oregon State. The main attractions were wide receivers Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks, respectively. In each case, the Jets' contingent spent private time with the players. It's not unusual for Mornhinweg to scout on the road. In fact, he attended Geno Smith's pro day last year, taking him out to dinner the night before. With the 18th pick, the Jets are thinking strongly about a receiver.

5. Revis Inc.: Darrelle Revis' contract with the New England Patriots sheds light into his thinking as a player/businessman. Technically, it's a two-year, $32 million deal, but the second year is bogus because of a $25 million cap charge. They added a second year for cap purposes and because Revis is hellbent on a $16 million-per-year average. Has been since 2010, when he staged his second holdout with the Jets. At the time, he proposed a 10-year, $160 million deal. He refused over the years to bend on the APY, finally finding a team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) willing to pay it. Why $16 million? I think it goes back to Nnamdi Asomugha's $16 million-a-year deal from the Oakland Raiders in 2009. As soon as Revis surpassed Asomugha as the top cornerback, in the eyes of many, he considered $16 million his birthright.

For an interesting take on the Revis contract from the Patriots' perspective, check out ESPN.com colleague Mike Reiss.

6. California dreaming: The quarterback-needy Raiders are targeting two players likely to be released -- Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez (in that order), according to a report by ESPN.com colleague Paul Gutierrez. Sanchez makes a lot of sense. Joey Clinkscales, the team's director of player personnel, is a former Jets executive and was heavily involved when they drafted Sanchez in 2009.

The Jets are running out of time to make a decision on Sanchez, who's due a $2 million roster bonus March 25. If they don't sign another quarterback (Michael Vick?) before then, what then? Do they turn to Sanchez, trying to get him to take a major pay cut? If Sanchez balks, he will be released -- unless the Jets pay the $2 million, buying more time. It's not Idzik's style to cut a player before his replacement is on the roster. It hurts leverage. If the Raiders want him badly enough, maybe they'd be willing to make a trade.

7. Tony the recruiter: Former Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, now the Raiders' offensive-line coach, was instrumental in recruiting right tackle Austin Howard. Said Howard: "I really love his style of coaching. Once we got that call, it was honestly a no-brainer decision to get on the plane and make the trip out to Oakland.” Obviously, the five-year, $30 million contract had something to do with it, too. Sparano was a key Howard ally in the summer of 2012, when the Jets replaced Wayne Hunter.

8. A tale of two kickers: Nick Folk was the only kicker this year to receive a franchise-tag designation, which usually translates to a top-of-the-market contract. In Folk's case, his four-year deal is actually similar to what Dan Carpenter just landed from the Buffalo Bills -- at least in terms of first-year compensation. Folk gets $3.6 million in total compensation (the amount of the franchise tender), Carpenter scores $3.425 million. Carpenter was given a chance, albeit brief, to take Folk's job last preseason, but he lasted only a few days. Now he's making nearly as much as him.

9. DRC on ED: Came across this quote from Super Bowl week. Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was asked which of his team's receivers is the hardest to cover. His answer: Wes Welker. "Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are great receivers, but you can kind of break their moves down," he said. "Wes, he does too much." DRC could end up reunited with Decker.

10. Hurting at OLB: It didn't get any attention, but the Jets decided not to tender restricted free agent Garrett McIntyre, making him unrestricted. It would've cost them $1.4 million. It came as a surprise because McIntyre was a decent backup, good for about 20 defensive snaps per game. With Calvin Pace also an unrestricted free agent, the Jets are perilously thin at outside linebacker.

What we learned on Day 1 of free agency

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
2:00
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A few thoughts on the New York Jets did (correction: didn't do) on the first day of free agency:

1. Rough start: It wasn't a productive day for the Idziks. They lost right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders, watched as the three highest-rated corners came off the board and began to hear the rumblings of a Darrelle Revis-to-the-New England Patriots scenario -- a potential nightmare. But, hey, they re-signed kicker Nick Folk to a long-term deal.

2. Patience: The lack of activity set off a near panic among fans who wanted general manager John Idzik to put in dent in that $39.6 million cap surplus. Relax, people. It was only the first day, when desperate teams throw ridiculous money at players not worthy of superstar paychecks. Championships aren't won in March. Jets fans should know that better than anyone.

3. Howard's end: The Jets liked Howard, they really did, but they liked him only to a certain point. Idzik didn't want to match the five-year, $30 million offer from the Raiders, and that was that. His fallback option appears to be former Seattle Seahawks right tackle Breno Giacomini, who was good enough to start for the Super Bowl champions.

4. They like Mike: It has been rumored for weeks, but now it can be confirmed: Yes, the Jets have interest in quarterback Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), according to a league source. They also scheduled a visit with Josh McCown (Chicago Bears), who also has visits set up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the favorite) and the Houston Texans. Vick reportedly is drawing interest from the Buffalo Bills and Raiders. The Jets would like to get it wrapped up quickly, but it sounds like Vick will take his time. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is twisting in the wind, waiting to learn his fate.

5. Dangerous corner: It's too soon to say the Jets are desperate at cornerback, but I bet Rex Ryan is feeling a bit uneasy about his current situation. The Jets expressed a strong interest in Vontae Davis, but he re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts for four years, $39 million. Alterraun Verner was on the Jets' radar, but he signed with the Buccaneers for four years, $25.5 million. The Denver Broncos took Aqib Talib away from the New England Patriots with a crazy contract -- six years, $57 million. The cornerback market isn't barren yet, but the Jets might want to get busy. Keep an eye on Captain Munnerlyn (Carolina Panthers) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver Broncos). And, of course, Antonio Cromartie is out there. Remember him?

6. 'Folk Hero' gets paid: Folk wore the franchise tag for only two weeks. On Tuesday, he signed a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal reportedly includes only $2.1 million in guarantees, about $1.4 million less than what he would've received if he had signed the $3.55 million franchise tender. Folk wanted a long-term deal for security, but in reality, it won't be hard to cut him if he has a bad year. Good deal for the Jets.

7. Quiet at receiver: Not much action for the free-agent wide receivers. Here's a name to watch: Miles Austin, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys. The receiver-needy Jets are expected to have interest. They're also showing interest in running back Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) at "the right price," a source said. They're eyeing other backs as well.

Rex wants Revis, but it's wishful thinking

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
11:40
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The New York Jets have a gaping hole at cornerback, the free-agent market is shrinking and Darrelle Revis is on the verge of becoming a free agent. Are the stars (or, in this case, the star) aligning for the Jets?

The Jets missed out on the top three cornerbacks Tuesday on the opening day of free agency, as Vontae Davis re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts and Alterraun Verner signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, essentially taking Revis' spot on the roster. The Bucs are expected to cut Revis on Wednesday. On Tuesday night, Aqib Talib signed with the Denver Broncos, meaning the New England Patriots could make a push for Revis.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesWould Darrelle Revis consider reuniting with the Jets? Or would a contract with the divisional-rival Patriots be more appealing?
Concerned about his cornerback situation, Rex Ryan is "absolutely" interested in a Revis reunion, according to a person familiar with the coach's thinking. If it were up to Ryan, they'd be dusting off Revis' old No. 24 jersey as we speak. As for Revis, he reportedly would "love" to return to the Jets and Ryan -- although that screams of posturing.

There are two things standing in the way: Woody Johnson's pride and Revis' ego.

After years of acrimony, stemming from two nasty holdouts, Johnson couldn't wait to ship Revis out of town last spring. The Jets' owner was tired of the annual contract dramas, frustrated by the inability to sign him to a long-term contract. Unless Johnson does a 180, it's hard to imagine him signing off on Revis 2.0. Imagine how foolish they'd look if they sign him and, a year from now, he starts threatening another holdout. Fool me once ...

Others may take a different viewpoint, saying it would be a genius move to re-acquire their former best player only one year after trading him for a first-round draft pick. It would be like subletting your house for a year and receiving the full-sale price.

The big question is, would Revis' ego permit him to re-sign with the organization he accused of lying to him before last year's trade? He felt betrayed by general manager John Idzik, who was simply carrying out Johnson's trade order.

In the end, money talks. It talks loudly to Revis, as we know. He'll pick the team that offers the sweetest deal. If it's close, he'll go where he has the best chance to win a title, which means he'll probably be looking for a team with a franchise quarterback. That eliminates the Jets. If he returns to the Jets, it'll be a tail-between-the-legs moment. That would be a sight to see.

The Patriots are a better fit than the Jets, and you know Revis would love to stick it to it former team by signing with their No. 1 rival. He'll take revenge over reunion any day.

Would Jets want Revis? Yes and no

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
4:00
PM ET
Hottest question of the day: Would the New York Jets want to reunite with Darrelle Revis if he gets cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

There are mixed signals on this one. The Jets "absolutely" would be interested in the star cornerback, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking -- assuming Revis is willing to take less than his current $16 million-a-year salary. Rex Ryan has a deep affinity for Revis and, according to a person close to the coach, he likely already has brought up Revis' name is discussions with general manager John Idzik.

While the football side of the organization would love a Revis reunion, the feeling probably isn't the same on the management/ownership level. Years of acrimony between the front office and Revis' camp culminated last April with a bitter divorce, and it's unlikely Woody Johnson would sign off on a Revis 2.0, according to a person familiar with the owner's thinking.

"Woody's not going to allow Revis back in the building," the person said. "He's so anti-Revis. It would happen over his dead body, and I don't think he's ready to leave us."

The biggest question might be, would Revis even consider returning to the Jets? Unless they meet his asking price (not likely), he'd have to be desperate.

This could all be moot, of course, because the Bucs are attempting to trade Revis. The Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders reportedly have interest. Both teams have New York ties to Revis. The Browns' coach is former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and the Raiders' assistant GM is Joey Clinkscales, the former Jets director of college scouting. The Bucs want to trade him before Wednesday. If not, they'll cut him before a $1.5 million roster bonus us due.

Selfishly, Jets want Revis to stay put

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
6:30
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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.

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