- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Checking out the Jets and the NFL:
1. Quiet before the storm: Things are eerily quiet on the Darrelle Revis trade front, but don't take that to mean a potential trade is dead. The draft is 18 days away, meaning John Idzik has two weeks to make perhaps the biggest decision he'll ever render from the GM chair -- keep him or trade him. If it's the latter, the wheels will have to be put into motion a day or two before the draft, giving the other team a chance to examine his surgically repaired knee. But here's the problem for the Jets: Only one serious suitor (the Bucs) has emerged. The 49ers, rumored as a possible suitor, signed CB Nnamdi Asomugha last week, albeit a modest deal.
Without a bidding war, the Jets will be hard-pressed to extract anything close to equal-value compensation. Why would the Bucs bid against themselves? Idzik could walk away, wait until Revis is healthy and try again before the Week 8 trading deadline, but that's risky. By then, the Bucs probably will have addressed their cornerback need, perhaps with a first-round pick. From all indications, Idzik's rebuilding plan is centered on acquiring as many draft picks as possible. His best and only bargaining chip is Revis. Would he sell off a pre-owned Cadillac for the price of a Chevy? The clock is ticking. All eyes are on the new GM, whose tenure in New York could be defined by this moment.
2. The what-if game: Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. The Jets would be in bad shape at cornerback if Asomugha had accepted their $10 million-a-year offer in the summer of 2011, when they courted him in the post-lockout free agency period. Obviously, it would've meant the departure of Antonio Cromartie, who also was a free agent and would've signed elsewhere.
The Jets would've played the last two seasons with a Revis-Asomugha tandem, but Asomugha's play has declined considerably. He was cut by the Eagles despite a $4 million guarantee, signing a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the 49ers. Meanwhile, Cromartie, who might have signed with the Raiders, has improved to the point where he's considered a No. 1 corner. They also would've let Cromartie walk, and probably wouldn't have bid for Asomugha, if they had picked CB Jimmy Smith in the first round of the '11 draft. They targeted Smith, but he went four spots earlier to the Ravens. The Jets took DE Muhammad Wilkerson. I'd say they made out nicely.
3. Comp time: One facet of Idzik's rebuilding plan, I'm told, is trying to accumulate compensatory draft picks. The formula is complicated, but it's basically this: A team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks -- a maximum of four. So far, the Jets have lost six starters in free agency. It's hard to predict how many of their signees will start, but it may be only two or three. Early prediction: They will have double-digit picks in 2014.
4. EJ to NY?: On a CBSSports.com podcast, former Florida State QB EJ Manuel speculated that he could get drafted by the Bills, Eagles or Jets. Unfortunately, the host never asked him to elaborate on why he picked those three teams. Until now, Manuel hadn't been linked to the Jets in any fashion. His stock has soared since an MVP performance in the Senior Bowl, and some draft expects believe he could sneak into the first round. He's a terrific leader with a lot of raw ability, but he's just that -- raw. I've heard the Bills like him. With his mobility, he'd be a fit with the Eagles and Chip Kelly's read-option offense. Not sure he'd be a good fit in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast system, but he may have more upside than any quarterback in the class.
5. Pre-draft buzz: Like every team, the Jets have begun to host prospects on pre-draft visits. Each team is allowed to bring in 30 players, plus locals. So far, the biggest name that we know about is Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, who already has come through Florham Park. They also reportedly will visit with Alabama CB Dee Milliner. The Jets take these visits seriously. A year ago, they hosted DE Quinton Coples even though Rex Ryan had previously spent time with Coples at his pro day. Two years ago, they subjected Wilkerson (a local visit) to a grueling workout at the team facility. Obviously, some of the visits are due diligence, but, hey, you never know.
6. More buzz: Here's a name to watch on the Jets' visit list: South Carolina S D.J. Swearinger. He's drawing a lot of interest from the Jets. Florida International S Jonathan Cyprien, projected as a second rounder, also is on the Jets' radar. After losing LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency, they need safety help in the worst way. They need someone who can step in right away.
7. Money talk: In case you're wondering, the Jets have $12.57 million in cap room, according to the NFLPA report. That may sound like a lot, but nearly all of that will be required to sign their draft picks. I find it interesting the NFLPA is now publicizing cap space. Clearly, it wants the fans to know how much (or how little) their favorite teams are spending. Hmmm. This has been a sluggish free agency period, which has to be frustrating for the players. But, hey, such is the CBA they negotiated.
8. The Demotion Man: QB Drew Stanton can't catch a break. Wherever he goes, he gets knocked down a notch on the depth chart before he even steps on the field. A year ago, he signed a free-agent contract to serve as Mark Sanchez's backup, but he was traded a week later to the Colts when the Jets acquired Tim Tebow. Just recently, Stanton signed with the Cardinals, receiving a fairly strong starting endorsement from new coach Bruce Arians. Ah, but it happened again to Stanton. He was leap-frogged by Carson Palmer, whom they acquired last week in a trade. This guy gets jumped more often than a broken step on a staircase.
9. Crime of the century: Speaking of Palmer, the Raiders should be handed a permanent dunce cap. Their 2011 trade for Palmer has to be one of the worst in recent sports history. They traded a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional 2013 second rounder to the Bengals, who were done with him anyway. Palmer went 8-16 with the Raiders, and all they got for him was a conditional seventh-round pick from the Cards. Commitment to Excellence? Please. For that trade, the Raiders should be committed, period.
9.a. More Silver & Black: After cutting problem LB Rolando McClain, the Raiders have $45 million in "dead" money on this year's salary cap. And you thought the Jets had cap issues.
10. Odd Couple: I found it humorous that Patriots QB Tom Brady worked out last week with Terrell Owens at USC. The break-up with Wes Welker must have really rattled Brady's brain. If T.O. sticks around, maybe he can earn an invite to Mark Sanchez's "Jets West" camp in July.