The free-agent chase is on

April, 25, 2010
4/25/10
11:10
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What do Brandon Moore, Mike DeVito, James Ihedigbo, Danny Woodhead and Jamaal Westerman have in common? They all took the hard road to the NFL, undrafted out of college. They all made the Jets' roster as rookie free agents. The biggest success story is Moore, a longtime starter, but DeVito is gaining quickly. DeVito, a powerful defensive lineman out of Maine, was a key reserve during last season's playoff run and will compete for major playing time this season.

Once the draft ended Saturday, the Jets -- like all teams -- began to pursue free agents. This is where a good scouting department can separate itself from the ordinary departments, with the ability to identify talent that was overlooked in the draft. The Jets have a very good team of scouts, evidenced by all the former UDFAs on their roster.

The Jets won't announce their free-agent signings until the end of the week, but here's a running list (based on newspaper accounts, football websites and Twitter accounts):

Michigan CB Donovan Warren, Pitt DT Mick Williams, Alabama LB Cory Reamer, Texas G Charlie Tanner, Bethune-Cookman WR Philip Kirkland, Nevada DE Kevin Basped, Illinois WR/TE Jeff Cumberland and North Dakota State OT Keith Buckman. Cal S Marcus Ezoff will be invited to minicamp on a tryout basis.

The biggest name is Warren, who started all three years at Michigan. Warren hurt his stock with a pedestrian 40 time at the scouting combine (4.65). Some believe he has regressed over the last three years, but he's an athletic player with big-time college experience.

Plus, he has a connection to the Jets. His godfather is Mark Carrier, the former longtime safety and current Jets defensive line coach. Sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know.

A couple of random draft-related thoughts:

1. Isn't it interesting that new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll passed on former USC RB Joe McKnight in the fourth round (No. 111)? Carroll recruited McKnight to USC and coached him his entire career, and yet, even though he was in the market for a versatile, third-down back, he didn't pick him. The Jets traded up and grabbed McKnight at No. 112. Minutes later, Carroll traded for RB Leon Washington, who is coming off a broken leg. Hmmm.

2. Another thought on the Alan Faneca release. With All-Pro C Nick Mangold due for a contract extension before the season (he's signed through 2010), the Jets may have been concerned about salary structure. If they were paying $7.5 million in '10 to a guard on the downside of his career, it might have muddied the waters in the Mangold negotiations. Believe me, general managers think about this stuff.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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