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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Analysis of free agency, Day 1

By Rich Cimini

This was a relatively quiet day for the Jets, who usually love the big splash on Day 1, but a few trends developed:

1. Despite being about $14 million under the salary cap at the start of the day, the Jets didn't get involved with any upper-tier free agents, at least none that we know of. This could indicate a more conservative approach than in the past. Remember, they spent major bucks last year, with Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie and David Harris. Maybe they're going to be more like the Giants, going slow and waiting for the market to settle. Or maybe owner Woody Johnson just told his football people to chill out until next year.

2. I was surprised they re-signed OLB Bryan Thomas so soon, considering he's only five months removed from Achilles-tendon surgery, but it was only a one-year deal and it sends a message -- character counts. A year ago, the Jets unloaded a bunch of good locker-room guys and we all saw the result. It's too early to say that retaining Thomas and NT Sione Pouha signal a shift in philosophy, but it's a positive sign. Maybe they learned their lesson.

3. It doesn't look like the Jets will get their top choice at backup quarterback, Chad Henne (Dolphins). They reached out to Henne, according to a source, but he set up visits with the Jaguars and Seahawks, according to multiple reports. He will be out of the Jets' price range, and they know it, which explains why they set up a visit with Drew Stanton (Lions). Big dropoff from Henne to Stanton.

4. They investigated the safety market, showing interest in LaRon Landry, Brandon Meriweather and Reggie Nelson. This isn't a great group -- they all have flaws, especially Meriweather -- but the Jets are desperate. Prediction: They sign a veteran and look for another safety in the draft.

5. Lots of big-name receivers on the market (well, there were), but the Jets flirted with ... Chaz Schilens. Who? He's a 6-foot-4, 225-pound receiver from the Raiders, and the Raiders' former WRs coach, Sanjay Lal, is now the Jets' receivers coach. So there you go. Schilens fits the profile of what the Jets need -- size and speed -- but he's battled injury problems and he has only 72 receptions and seven TDs in four years. The Cards are also interested.

6. Cause for concern: The Bills reportedly are showing significant interest in stud DE/OLB Mario Williams -- and that doesn't bode well for the Jets, who have a major issue at right tackle with Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse. In case you're wondering, Williams was used mostly over the right tackle last season by the Texans (65 percent of all rushes from the defensive left, according to Pro Football Focus). A lot of fans are asking about RT Eric Winston, released by the Texans. So far, there is no known interest by the Jets.

7. The Jets want to re-sign free agent PK Nick Folk, according to a source, but he would have competition in camp.