Rex: Geno has come 'a million miles,' but ...

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
12:55
PM ET

NEW YORK -- Technically, the New York Jets' quarterback job remains open.

Four weeks removed from the season, Rex Ryan praised Geno Smith's late-season development, but he still wouldn't commit to the second-year quarterback as the starter going into training camp.

"We’ll see who’s on our roster before we make that decision," the Jets' coach said Friday during a promotional appearance on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square.

Essentially, Ryan echoed what general manager John Idzik said at the conclusion of the 8-8 season. Ryan said "there are very few players that grew as much as Geno did, and he had to come a million miles -- and he did. You saw our team ascending, and I think part of that is the way Geno played." Ryan noted that Smith, overcoming a major mid-season slump, was the second-highest rated passer in the league over the final month.

But still no commitment.

"We could say it, but with us, you can't really say with any certainties on anything right now because you’re just starting the offseason," Ryan said. "You don’t know what your roster is going to be. It’s probably not the best thing to say, ‘Hey, this guy is going to be a starter.’ Let’s let it play out."

Ryan, endorsing New Era caps, spoke to four reporters while handing out free ice cream to fans lined up on the sidewalk. He touched on a variety of other Jets-related topics:

Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie's future: Ryan expressed hope that Cromartie, who said he won't need off-season hip surgery, can return to his 2012 form. But, because of economics, Ryan wouldn't say Cromartie will definitely be on the team. The veteran cornerback has a $15 million cap charge.

His new contract: Ryan, insisting he's happy with his recent contract extension, downplayed the incentive-heavy nature of the deal. "All contracts have incentives in them," he said. "It’s not an unusual (thing). I’m not going to get into specifics, but it’s not out of the ordinary." Ryan signed a multi-year extension, through 2016, but only 2014 and 2015 are guaranteed. The 2016 salary will be based heavily on postseason wins.

Asked if he gave any thought to coaching out his previous deal, essentially gambling on himself, Ryan said: "I always bet on myself and I bet on the guys with me anyway. It never matters. It really doesn’t matter if I was on a one-year, a two-year, a three-year or a 10-year. It wouldn’t matter how I approach it."

Special-teams opening: Ryan said he's not ready to announce his replacement for Ben Kotwica, who left to become the Washington Redskins' special-teams coordinator. He said he's had conversations with the retired Mike Westhoff, but he described Westhoff as a sounding board, not a candidate for the job. "I like having him around," Ryan said. Westhoff has said he's not looking to get back into coaching.

Draft help: Ryan noted that the May draft is deep in wide receivers, a need position for the Jets. He said Idzik would adhere to his best-available-player credo, but added that they'd likely take a receiver at some point in the draft.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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