Friday, February 24, 2012
Combine leftovers from Rex, Mike
By Rich Cimini
The Thursday/Friday headlines were dominated by the Peyton Manning buzz and Rex Ryan's mea culpa on his now-infamous Super Bowl guarantee, but Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum addressed other topics as well Thursday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
• Ryan, in an interview on the NFL Network, hinted the Jets aren't planning to make any blockbuster moves in free agency. He said they might "add a couple of guys here and there," noting "it might not be a splash free agent." The Jets have at least $8 million in cap room, but factoring in the draft and restricted free agents, there won't be much left. As I wrote last Sunday, they won't be in the Mario Williams chase. Ryan suggested their approach will resemble the one they had in 2009, when they signed Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard and Marques Douglas. The trouble with that comparison is that Scott (six years, $48 million) was a big-ticket free agent; Leonhard and Douglas were more of the "value" type. Keep an eye on Ravens OLB Jarret Johnson; he's a second-tier free agent that would fit perfectly for the Jets. Ryan, who coached him in Baltimore, loves the guy.
• The Jets are expected to put a first-round tender on OLB Aaron Maybin (restricted free agent), according to the Star-Ledger of Newark. The tender cost is estimated at $2.7 million. It's fairly pricey for a part-time player, but he has an important job -- sacking the QB.
UPDATE: There were conflicting reports on the type and amount of the tender. Turns out the Jets will place an "original-round" tender on Maybin for about $1.3 million, not a "first-round level" tender for about $2.7 million. Because Maybin was a first-round pick of the Bills, the Jets still are entitled to a first-round pick as compensation if they decline to exercise their right of first refusal on an offer sheet. This makes more fiscal sense, as $2.7 million was relatively high for a part-time player. Bottom line: Maybin isn't going anywhere because no team in its right mind would give up a first-rounder for him.
• Tannenbaum said embattled S Eric Smith will "certainly be back." As Ryan noted, Smith and Tracy Wilson are the only safeties under contract. Ryan said Smith played with a knee injury for a "majority of the season" (he had a scope after the season) and still considers him a starter. It looks like they will add at least two safeties, one via free agency and another in the draft.
• Tannenbaum reiterated his philosophy on trading up in the draft. In other words, he's all for it. "Our track record is pretty clear: We will do that, but you better be right," he said. He mentioned the past trade-ups that produced Darrelle Revis and David Harris (no Mark Sanchez reference -- hmm), saying the organization has "very specific criteria" when determining which prospects are worth the gamble. He said character is weighed heavily in the evaluation process.
• Speaking of Revis, Ryan made a passing remark about his star cornerback, calling him and Deion Sanders the best cornerbacks in "the history of football." You think that remark might be brought up by Revis' agents the next time they sit down at the bargaining table?
• Tannenbaum said of Sanchez, "I feel we're really fortunate that he's our guy and will continue to be our guy, and we'll do a lot of great things with him." In his next breath, Tannenbaum said he has a "fiduciary duty" to perform due diligence on Manning.
I wonder: How would Tannenbaum and Ryan have answered these Sanchez questions if the Manning issue developed a year ago, when Sanchez was riding high after his playoff run? Just wondering.