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Gentlemen, start your checkbooks

7/26/2011

Now, the fun starts.

Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Jets and the 31 other teams got down to serious business in this post-lockout world. Because of the number of high-profile free agents, the Jets are one of the teams in the national spotlight. As one rival personnel director told me Monday, "Let's see who the Jets choose to pay. They've got some work to do."

When the clock struck 10, they were allowed to:

Sign draft picks and undrafted rookies. Actually, negotiations with undrafted rookies began Monday night and the Jets reportedly agreed to terms with former Northwest Missouri State TE Josh Baker. In terms of the draft picks, the Jets have a six-man class, headed by former Temple DE Muhammad Wilkerson. Don't be surprised if they come to terms quickly with their two seventh-round picks, former Alabama QB Greg McElroy and former Colorado WR Scotty McKnight.

Commence free-agent negotiations. Teams are allowed to negotiate with all free agents, but they can't actually sign them until 6 p.m. Friday. Nevertheless, there are deals to be made, and the Jets figure to jump in quickly with WR Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie. Holmes is their No. 1 priority, but he will be courted by the Redskins. A bidding war could escalate by day's end. This is the day for the Jets to touch base with the agents of all their free agents (a total of 17), and you know aggressive GM Mike Tannenbaum will be reaching out to Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha, if only to check in.

Start trading. In a normal year, this falls into Tannenbaum's wheelhouse -- hence, the nickname Trader Mike -- but the late starting date might cause him to think twice before diving into the trade market. However, if the Jets lose Holmes and/or Edwards, there will be speculation about Panthers WR Steve Smith, reportedly on the block.

Report to the facility. At 10 a.m., the doors at facilities across the league re-opened to the players. They reported for voluntary workouts and classroom time, cramming before the start of training camp. The Jets, I'm told, were expecting at least a couple of dozen players to show up. For them, training camp begins Sunday. C Nick Mangold tweeted early Tuesday that he hadn't made the drive to Florham Park, N.J., in six months and was worried about getting lost -- a little post-lockout humor.

Finally, they're back.