- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're back after a one-week hiatus, looking at the Jets and around the league:
1. QB hunters: New GM John Idzik and the Jets' entire scouting staff will descend on Indianapolis this week for the scouting combine, their first chance to see the top quarterbacks under the same roof. The Jets desperately need hope at the quarterback position, but this year is a challenge for talent evaluators because there are no sure things. Each of the top prospects has concerns: Matt Barkley (USC) had a disappointing senior year and hurt his shoulder. Geno Smith (West Virginia) slumped late in the year. Mike Glennon (North Carolina State) and Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) posted mediocre TD-INT ratios. Ryan Nassib (Syracuse) didn't wow at the Senior Bowl.
"The wheels came off for all the quarterbacks at some point this year," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. "I think that’s why the teams are in predicament they are, trying to figure out this whole QB thing and not overdraft and push a guy up when he’s not deserving."
This separates the good scouting departments from the mediocre ones. There's no Andrew Luck here, but you can bet that starters will emerge from this draft. The pressure is on the evaluators to dig deep and determine if there's enough talent behind the flaws of each prospect. Sometimes there's an explanation. For instance: Glennon is criticized for having completed only 59 percent of his passes last season, but he was victimized by 46 drops, according to NFL.com. I expect the Jets to draft a quarterback at some point. Will they get it right? We'll see.
2. RW 2.0?: Quarterback-needy teams, including the Jets, are looking for the next Russell Wilson. Not happening, according to Kiper. He called Wilson a "once-in-a-lifetime player." Indeed, how many 5-foot-10 quarterbacks taken in the third round become instant stars? "You're not going to find a Russell Wilson every year," Kiper said. "You're not going to find a Russell Wilson every 20 years." That's not what Jets fans want to hear. Idzik was part of the Seattle brain trust that drafted Wilson and made him a rookie starter.
3. Poor supply, big demand: Two quarterbacks expected to hit the open market -- Michael Vick and Tarvaris Jackson -- were retained by the Eagles and Bills, respectively. Bills coach Doug Marrone said Jackson will be in an open competition against incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was thought to be on the chopping block. Detect a trend? The pool of available quarterbacks is so weak that teams are holding on to what they have, which doesn't bode well for the Jets. It's great news for a player like Matt Moore (Dolphins), an ordinary quarterback who could find himself the object of a free-agent bidding war. In this case, less is Moore.
4. Money for nothing: Interesting trend uncovered by ESPN's John Clayton: The top seven spending teams in 2012 failed to make the playoffs. (We're talking actual dollars, not cap dollars.) The biggest spenders/losers were the Saints at $167 million. In case you're wondering, the Jets finished 19th at $123.3 million in payroll. That figure, standing alone, isn't alarming. The real eyebrow-raiser is how they left so much unused cap space -- $3.5 million at the end of the year. For the record, the Super Bowl-champion Ravens ($132 million) finished 11th in payroll.
5. Super Mario: Let's pretend for a moment that the Jets acquiesce to Darrelle Revis and give him a Mario Williams-like contract -- six years, $96 million. It couldn't be the exact same deal because Revis still has a year left (Williams was a free agent), but play along as we use Williams' deal as a guide. Revis' cap numbers would be: $9.8 million, $12.4 million, $18.4 million, $19 million, $19.9 million and $16.5 million. His number would explode in 2015. Many believe the salary cap will spike in 2015, with new TV money thrown into the pot, but now there's talk that a spike won't occur. If the Jets re-up with Revis, they have to be prepared to incur a cap charge akin to a franchise quarterback.
6. Fountain of Youth: Rex Ryan's new-look coaching staff has a lot less NFL coaching experience than the previous one. The current staff (15 assistants) has a total of 87 years. The 2012 staff (same size) began last season with 128 years. A big chunk walked out the door when special teams coach Mike Westhoff (29 years) retired.
7. Buyer, beware: The cap-strapped Panthers may cut one of their three highly-paid running backs -- DeAngelo Williams ($8.2 million cap charge), Jonathan Stewart ($3 million) or Mike Tolbert ($2 million). Williams is the mostly likely to go, which surely would excite Jets fans looking for some excitement in the backfield. Beware, though: Williams turns 30 in April and was having a terrible year before rushing for 210 yards in the season finale against the Saints, the worst statistical defense in history. That wouldn't be a good pickup for the Jets.
8. No Jets love: Eleven players from the AFC East made the Pro Football Weekly top 50 free-agent list -- but no Jets. The Dolphins led the way with six players -- LT Jake Long (3rd), RB Reggie Bush (15), CB Sean Smith (27), DT Randy Starks (28), WR Brian Hartline (41) and QB Matt Moore (46). Three Patriots made it -- CB Aquib Talib (14), WR Wes Welker (17) and OT Sebastian Vollmer (20). The Bills had two -- G Andy Levitre (18) and S Jarius Byrd (22).
9. The Commi$sh: Roger Goodell reportedly made $29.5 million in 2011. Is that the franchise-tag amount for commissioners?
10. Green with envy: The Giants cop a haughty attitude when it comes to the Jets, calling them second-class citizens. But when their so-called stars gets released, they always seem to mention how they'd be interested in playing for the Jets. Funny how that works.