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Monday, August 1, 2011
The Big 4 free agents: Kept 2, lost 2

By Rich Cimini

For several months, it was the hottest topic of conversation among Jets fans: How many of the Big Four free agents can they re-sign? Which ones? Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards? Both? What about Antonio Cromartie? Brad Smith?

In the end, it went pretty much as expected, although there was a little more drama because of the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes.

I always felt Holmes was the No. 1 priority and that the Jets, because of salary-cap considerations, wouldn't be able to keep him and Edwards. That's how it played out. They re-upped with Holmes for five years, $50 million and Edwards remains a free agent, his Jets career finished.

Smith is a terrific football player, but he's not a full-time player and luxuries are hard to keep around. The Jets didn't even make an offer and watched him sign with the Bills for $15 million over four years.

As for Cromartie, the Jets were prepared to move on without him, thinking they could woo Asomugha, but that blew up and they were forced to go back to Cromartie. Early Monday morning, the two sides finalized a four-year, $32 million contract.

The heavy lifting is done for GM Mike Tannenbaum, but look for second-tier free agents such as DE Shaun Ellis and S James Ihedigbo to re-sign in the coming days. They'd like to extend LB David Harris' one-year contract, and look for those talks to heat up in the coming days.