New York Jets: John Idzik


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- No one does news conferences like the New York Jets.

John Idzik's 38-minute session Monday with reporters was an all-timer, one that will be remembered for his 19-minute opening statement. In case you're wondering, it was 2,466 words, according to the transcript released by the team. It was about 10 times longer than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Fourscore and seven losses ago ...

Idzik talked and talked and talked and talked, covering everything from the pre-game player-walk to his salary-cap philosophy to the employees at every level of the organization. He was emotional and passionate at the outset, but his message eventually got lost in a seemingly endless stream of football platitudes. Once the Q & A portion began, he didn't provide many concrete answers, saying: He likes his plan. He loves Woody Johnson. He likes Rex Ryan. He likes the players. He likes their work ethic. They try hard. They play hurt.

OK, so why are they 1-7?

Anyway, here's my list of the most memorable news conferences in team history. I'd put the Idzik Address at No. 6.

1. Bill Belichick's resignation (January 2000): Nothing will ever knock this out of the No. 1 spot. On the day he was to be coronated as Bill Parcells' successor, Belichick stunned the world and his co-workers by resigning as the "HC of the NY Jets." That was the message he scribbled on a sheet of loose leaf, his quasi-letter of resignation. Like Idzik, Belichick rambled on for about 20 minutes, prompting team president Steve Gutman to remark later that Belichick appeared emotionally unstable. Who knew the modern-day Lombardi was walking out the door?

2. Rich Kotite steps aside (December 1996): Three years before Belichick quit, Kotite stepped into the same auditorium for a mid-week news conference and he did the exact same thing. Or did he? The beleaguered coach announced he wasn't quitting and he wasn't fired, but he was "stepping aside." He coached his final game (and lost), ending a 4-28 run as the Jets' coach.

3. Leon Hess steals the show (January 1995): The Jets' late owner rarely spoke to the media, so it was big news when he showed up to introduce Kotite as his new coach. He came across as a combination of George Steinbrenner and George Burns, barking, "I'm 80 years old. I want results now." His team became a laughingstock under Kotite, not the results he had in mind.

4. "You play to win the game" (October 2002): This wasn't a big news conference, just a routine, mid-week affair. Herm Edwards, his season fading away, got riled up when a reporter asked if he was worried about his team quitting. That prompted a legendary rant that included the famous line: "You play to win the game." Believe it or not, it didn't receive splashy coverage in the next day's papers. Who knew it would be included in a beer commercial one day?

5. The Voice (January 1990): Technically, this was a teleconference. The day after an embarrassing Monday night loss to the Buffalo Bills, coach Bruce Coslet decided to conduct his news conference over the phone. Instead of walking downstairs to meet the media, he stayed up in his office, fielding questions as he sat at his desk. Because of the short week, he wanted to save as much time as possible -- or so he claimed. The walk from the office to the press room was 30 seconds. The first question came from Peter Finney of the New York Post: "Bruce, why are you doing this?" The response wasn't memorable, but the question was priceless.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If a head coach wants to change his quarterback, as Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone did Monday, he should be allowed to make the move without having to call an organizational meeting to discuss, debate and vote. It shouldn't be as complicated as getting a bill passed by Congress; it should be a one-man, executive decision. That's how Marrone did it in Buffalo, replacing EJ Manuel with Kyle Orton.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan and John Idzik
Bill Kostroun/AP PhotoIf Jets coach Rex Ryan wants to make a change at quarterback, what sort of role would general manager John Idzik play in that decision-making?
With Geno Smith slumping, the New York Jets could be approaching a quarterback decision in the coming weeks, except in their case it's fair to wonder if coach Rex Ryan truly has the power to make that call. He was asked the question twice Monday, and each time he gave a cryptic answer that suggested he doesn't have the ultimate authority. If he doesn't -- if general manager John Idzik is pulling the strings from his bunker at One Jets Drive -- Ryan is just a puppet coach. And that would be troubling.

"To say who's going to outright make that call or whatever, I'd rather not say those things, but it would be a team decision," Ryan said at his news conference.

A short time later, Ryan was asked the same question during his weekly radio spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. This time, it was presented in the context of an in-game decision. Once again, Ryan dodged.

"You know what? I'd rather not get into this," he said. "It's always a Jet decision and I'm going to leave it at that, no matter how many times you ask me."

That response triggered images of Ryan calling up to Idzik's booth at halftime, asking if he's cool with the idea of bringing in Michael Vick. Idzik isn't that demanding, is he? All I know is the man monitors Ryan's news conferences and likes to stay involved in all aspects of the organization, staying abreast of seemingly trivial matters that could be handled by underlings. Yeah, he's hands-on.

There could be two explanations for Ryan's wishy-washy response. Maybe he did it to appease Idzik, allowing his boss -- the man who could determine his fate at the end of the season -- to be a part of the process.

Or maybe Ryan really doesn't have the power to make a quarterback change. That would be unusual because most head coaches have the contractual right to choose who plays and who sits.

Either way, it's bad form because of the perception it creates: A head coach with diminished power.

In Buffalo, Marrone made the decision and informed his general manager, Doug Whaley.

"I went to Doug, I said look, 'This gives us the best opportunity to win,'" Marrone told reporters. "We talked about it. We looked at some things, and we were in full agreement on it."

The key words: Best opportunity to win. Every decision should be based on what gives the team the best chance to win now. If Ryan decides at some point Vick gives the Jets the best chance, he should be allowed to make the call without having to convene a special session of the Woody Johnson cabinet. If Ryan is over-ruled, it's a bad situation because that's no way to run a team.

If Ryan is forced to play Smith longer than he wants -- and we're not suggesting he wants to dump him right now -- it would signal another rebuilding year, another year devoted to developing Smith. Ryan, his players and the fans deserve the chance to be better than that.

Mailbag: Rex-Pettine repeat of Eric-Bill?

June, 21, 2014
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This is our post-minicamp edition of the mailbag. What say you, New York Jets fans? @RichCimini: I find it hard to believe the Rex Ryan-Mike Pettine relationship has deteriorated to the Bill Belichick-Eric Mangini level, but I think it's fair to say it took a wrong turn with PlaybookGate. Ryan was disappointed and hurt by Pettine's comments and, yes, he probably felt betrayed. Who could blame him? The Belichick-Mangini relationship, already strained before SpyGate, was completely severed when Mangini blew the whistle on his mentor's spying operation. Tough to top that in terms of acts of disloyalty. After that, the chill was on display for every post-handshake between them. It's too bad the Jets don't play the Cleveland Browns this season; the handshake would've been a must-watch event. @RichCimini: I know most fans don't want to hear this, but they're content with the current cast. The coaches were almost giddy with Dexter McDougle's performance over the last two weeks, so they feel they can go four or five deep at corner -- Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, McDougle and Darrin Walls. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, not one to toss around compliments, talked about McDougle as if he's the next Darrelle Revis. As I've said, I'd be surprised if they get involved with Brandon Flowers. The brass feels comfy with the current situtation. @RichCimini: Stephen Hill and Quinton Coples wouldn't be considered surprises because they were highly-drafted players a couple of years ago. Keep a close watch on guard Oday Aboushi, who impressed during the spring. I think he will push for the starting job at left guard, which will affect incumbent Brian Winters (right guard in minicamp) and, possibly, returning right guard Willie Colon. If you're looking for a super surprise, remember this name -- Kerry Hyder. The undrafted defensive lineman from Texas Tech really showed up in minicamp. At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, he's undersized for the Jets' scheme, but Ryan & Co. have a way of finding roles for defensive linemen who can play, regardless of size. @RichCimini: It's an interesting situation because it's a new situation. The Class of 2011 (first round) is the first affected by the new CBA rules. Obviously, the Jets want to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to an extension, but there's no sense of urgency this year because he's under contract through 2015. His cap numbers for '14 and '15 are $2.2. million and $7.0 million, respectively -- team-friendly costs. John Idzik is a hard-line negotiator who likes to maximize leverage. Well, he has all the leverage in this case, so that tells me he will try to get a deal done by the start of the season. The question is whether he makes it sweet enough to satisfy Wilkerson. Keep an eye on the J.J. Watt situation in Houston; he's in the same boat as Wilkerson. If a Watt deal gets done, the Jets and Wilkerson can use that as a measuring stick. They might as well take advantage of all their cap room. An extension also would send a positive message to their best player and the rest of the locker room -- and the fan base, for that matter. @RichCimini: Without a doubt, it was Jalen Saunders. He's only 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, but he's one feisty dude. He has good short-area quickness and catches the ball well. He got a lot of reps with the first-team sub packages, getting on the field when they went to spread formations. It'll be interesting to see how he makes the transition when the pads go on, because like I said, he's just a wisp of a receiver. He's also one of the leading candidates at punt returner. Shaq Evans looked lost in minicamp, dropping a lot of passes, but he was understandably rusty, having missed the OTA practices due to school obligations. Of the rookies, he has the most complete skill set, so I'm looking forward to seeing him in training camp. Quincy Enunwa didn't jump out. He looks the part -- a solidly built 6-foot-2 -- but he's behind the others and could have trouble making the team.

W2W4: Offense for Jets on Day 2

May, 9, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The fun continues Friday night. A quick look at the New York Jets:

Picks: The Jets have two selections -- second round (49 overall) and third round (80).

Outlook: The second round could be the sweet spot of the draft in terms of the Jets addressing their needs on offense -- wide receiver and tight end. The Scouts, Inc. mock draft projects seven wide receivers and one tight end in the second round. There are some quality receivers on the board, some of whom were thought to be first-round candidates. They haven't ruled out the possibility of taking a quarterback. Things would get interesting if Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) and/or Derek Carr (Fresno State) happened to fall to 49, but that appears unlikely.

Projected targets: The most intriguing possibility is Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in the history of college football. The top receivers are Marqise Lee (USC), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Cody Latimer (Indiana) and Davante Adams (Fresno State). It would be a nice score if Lee, regarded by some draftniks as a first-round possibility for the Jets, fell to them in the second. General manager John Idzik attended Latimer's pro day, which tells you something because Indiana isn't exactly a routine stop on the scouting trail for top executives. A couple of highly regarded pass-rushers remain on the board, namely Kyle Van Noy (BYU) and Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State), one of the few front-seven prospects invited by the Jets for a pre-draft visit.

Trades: The Jets could easily jump up in Round 2 if there's a player they really want. If they package two fourth-round picks (104 and 115), they could get all the way to 34, based on the draft value chart. That's one spot behind the Houston Texans, who own the first pick in the round. The Washington Redskins (34) probably wouldn't trade out, considering they had no first-round pick, but the Jets still have the ammo to make a splash.

Jets hope Pryor not a 'fine' choice

May, 9, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Asked to compare himself to a safety in the NFL, Calvin Pryor named two -- Kam Chancellor and Dashon Goldson, both big hitters. In Goldson's case, he sometimes crosses the line, resulting in nearly $500,000 in fines for illegal hits.

In the new NFL, tightly governed by the safety-conscious league office, Pryor could be a marked man because of his physical style of play. Rex Ryan called him an "enforcer." ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Bill Polian said Pryor "brings a lot of wood." Said Pryor: "I feel like I've always been a hard hitter."

General manager John Idzik insisted he's not concerned.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Pryor
AP Photo/Tomasso DeRosaThe Jets aren't overly concerned with safety Calvin Pryor's hard-hitting style.
"I guess you would rather have that problem, a hitter that you would have to idle back a little bit -- and I don't think he's going to have to idle at all," Idzik said. "He'll learn technique at this level. In viewing his tape, when he gets the impact hits, they aren't illegal hits, they're just hard hits. We like having that style of play on our side."

Long-term durability also could be an issue. After all, he's only 5-foot-11, 207 pounds.

"He usually inflicts it instead of receives it," Idzik said. "Some guys are just thin. When you look at his body type, his build, he's a nice sturdy, thick frame, so the measurables don't always tell the story. It's really his flection, his ability to uncoil and the thickness, in particular his lower body. So, we don't have a concern that way."

Idzik scouted Pryor in person during the season and attended his pro day, as did Ryan. Pryor also made a pre-draft visit to the Jets' facility.

"When I came in for a visit, I felt like I fit their scheme very well," Pryor said. "Coach is a very defensive-minded coach and he wanted to go with a defensive guy that could help improve the secondary, and he felt like I was a great fit."

Indeed, this marked the fifth straight year in which the Jets picked defense in the first round. Pryor is the fourth defensive back they've taken in the first round since 2007, joining Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner.

Pryor was widely projected as a mid-first-round pick. There was talk about the Chicago Bears taking him at 14, maybe the Dallas Cowboys at 16, maybe the Baltimore Ravens at 17.

"Once the Jets came [on the clock]," he said, "I felt very confident they were going to take me and I was their guy."
Say this for Muhammad Wilkerson: He's consistent when it comes to discussing his future with the New York Jets. He's sticking with the "Jet-for-life" stance, which probably sends shivers through the fan base because Darrelle Revis used to say the same thing -- and look what happened to him.

"I told (the front office) at the end of the year last year that I want to be a Jet -- a Jet for life,” Wilkerson told the New York Post on Thursday. “I’m from the area (Linden, N.J.), I’m a local guy, so I would love to be here and finish my career here.”

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsWith the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
Back in October, Wilkerson gave the same response, almost verbatim, in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com. Like we said, he's consistent. Some might say he's hurting his leverage by professing his devotion to the Jets, but that's not the case at all. It's actually a smart approach from a public-relations standpoint because it shifts the focus to the Jets, who, in terms of public perception, bear the onus of making him a Jet for life.

So what are the chances of them locking up their best player to a long-term extension before the start of the season? Let's examine the situation:

Wilkerson is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, due to make $1.2 million. By May 3, the Jets are expected to exercise a fifth-year option that will set his 2015 salary somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range. (For players drafted from 11th through 32nd in 2011, the fifth-year salary is the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, excluding the top three.)

In essence, the Jets are under no sense of urgency to renegotiate Wilkerson's deal because they will have him under contract for two more years. Actually, you might say three years because they can slap him with the franchise tag in 2016. Do the math, and it comes out to three years for about $19.8 million, based on the current franchise-tag amount for a defensive end. For the Jets, that's a heck of a bargain for one of the top, young defensive players in the league.

The only motivation for the Jets to re-work his contract this year is if he accepts a team-friendly deal. Wilkerson's only leverage is to stage a holdout, but he reiterated in his interview with the New York Post that he has no intention of going that route. (Unlike his Jet-for-life comment, his recent no-holdout statements have weakened his bargaining power.) He'd be taking a risk by playing for $1.2 million because the fifth-year option isn't fully guaranteed until the fifth day of the 2015 league year. It's partially guaranteed (for injury only) as soon as the team picks up the option. General manager John Idzik hasn't revealed his plans, but it's a no-brainer.

Even though Wilkerson is operating under a different set of rules (the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011), his situation is similar to the Revis drama of 2010. Entering his fourth season, Revis refused to play for $1 million, staging a long and nasty holdout.

Wilkerson reiterated that he won't pull a Revis.

“I’m not holding out," he told the Post. "My agent is talking with Idzik, and that’s all I can say. I have nothing to do with that. I’m just going to let him take care of that. That’s his job. I’m just here to play ball."

The Jets should do the right thing and take care of Wilkerson before his contract becomes an issue, taking advantage of their significant cap space, but it's a bottom-line business. Teams are rarely motivated to make their players happy unless they get something out of it as well.

Vick, Sanchez and musical chairs at QB

March, 21, 2014
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Somewhere in SoCal or New Jersey, Mark Sanchez must be fuming, wondering where he will play football in 2014 if/when he gets cut by the New York Jets. As the slow-moving John Idzik prepares to meet Friday night with free agent Michael Vick, the most experienced quarterback on the roster is twisting in the wind, watching the number of potential landing spots dwindle.

Sanchez
In the last 24 hours, Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Houston Texans, who are now in the process of trading Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The Texans and Raiders were thought to be possible destinations for Sanchez.

No fewer than 10 teams have signed or re-signed veteran quarterbacks, leaving few options for Sanchez. The Jets don't have to make a decision until Monday, because he receives a $2 million roster bonus if he's still on the team after Monday.

Idzik is taking his sweet time, letting the market come to him. It stinks for Sanchez, who isn't permitted to speak to other teams, but it may work out for the Jets in terms of negotiating leverage with Vick -- and perhaps Sanchez, if it comes to that. The Jets could be the only team left offering a competitive quarterback situation.

We should point out that, in an interview Friday with SNY, Rex Ryan said, "Make no mistake about it, Geno Smith is going to be hard to beat out, no matter who we add." That was simply a verbal pat on the back for Smith, who might be wondering about his status with all the speculation about Vick. The truth is, it would be an open competition. Obviously, the organization wants Smith to succeed, but there's a reason why they haven't named him the starter.

At that the same time, Vick knows there's a short supply of quality quarterbacks on the market, so he can try to use that to his advantage. Meanwhile, the Jets are holding on to Sanchez to strengthen their perceived leverage, perhaps presenting him to the Vick camp as a fallback option. If they fail to sign Vick, their options would be Sanchez (if he takes a pay cut), Josh Freeman, Rex Grossman, Shaun Hill, Matt Flynn ... do we need to go on?

For the next 72 hours, it'll be a big poker game between the Jets, Vick and Sanchez.

Trade talk: Is DeSean deAnswer for Jets?

March, 20, 2014
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So now we have another trade rumor that is sure to tantalize Jets Nation: The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly listening to offers for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who posted career numbers last season.

Are the New York Jets interested? Should they be interested?

Jackson
First of all, it's amusing to hear that a team isn't actively shopping a player, but willing to field offers. The Jets weren't actively shopping Darrelle Revis last year, and look at how that turned out. The Jackson-Jets possibility has traction because his former Eagles coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, is now the Jets' coordinator and because the Jets still need a game-breaker at wide receiver. Eric Decker helps, but they need more firepower.

While you can never say "never" in the NFL, it would be a surprise if the Jets make a strong push for Jackson. Such a move would run counter to the John Idzik-ian way. Jackson's ability can't be denied (he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards last season) and he's only 27, but there are economic and character issues that don't seem to match the general manager's philosophy.

The contract is huge. Jackson is due to make $30.5 million over the final three years of his contract, including $10.5 million this season. The money is non-guaranteed, but it would be a $10.5 million cap hit. Do the Jets want to take on another big contract at receiver after doling out $15 million guaranteed for Decker?

Jackson is straight out of the Santonio Holmes diva school. He argues with coaches, complains about his contract and does stuff to annoy the people around him. Why else would Chip Kelly, an offensive guru, want to trade a top weapon in the prime of his career? The Jets removed the wart that was Holmes, so do they really want go there again? Obviously, Mornhinweg's input would be vital. If he absolutely believes Jackson would behave and be a team guy, it would be worth a call to the Eagles to start some dialogue. If there is any hesitation, stay away.

One thing to remember: This could be the best wide receiver draft in history, and there is a good chance the Jets can acquire an impact player with the 18th pick. They could get Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, whom many say is a Jackson-type player.

If the Jets were a little further along in their development, meaning a legitimate contender, I could see Idzik making the splashy move for Jackson. You might have noticed, but Idzik is a slow builder, thinking long term over quick fix. It might not make the fans happy, but it's quite obvious that he doesn't care what the fans or media think.

What we learned on Day 4 of free agency

March, 14, 2014
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Another quiet day for the New York Jets, but ...

Rodgers-Cromartie
1. Is Ro-Cro on the way?: Finally remembering that it takes two cornerbacks to play defense, the Jets scheduled a visit with free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cousin of the man he could replace, Antonio Cromartie. The Jets like to keep it in the family when finding replacements in the secondary. A year ago, they signed Dawan Landry to take the spot of his younger brother, LaRon. DRC was slated to arrive Friday. He reportedly also will visit with the New York Giants. If the Jets keep missing out on corners, they might have to bring Aaron Glenn out of retirement. He's already on the payroll as a scout.

2. Patriots getting bigger, better: The New England Patriots did it again, signing their second physical, press-corner in a span of 24 hours. This time, it was Brandon Browner, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. On Thursday, it was Darrelle Revis. Maybe you've heard of him. The Jets' top divisional rival is copying the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, acquiring nice-sized, man-to-man corners that can disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. The Jets added a big receiver, Eric Decker (6-3), but the knock on him is that he struggles against physical corners. Clearly, the Jets have to keep up with the Joneses -- or, in this case, the Belichicks. They need a dynamic weapon on offense to offset the Patriots' improving pass defense.

3. A tight (end) budget: Brandon Pettigrew, on the Jets' radar, ended up re-signing with the Detroit Lions -- four years, $16 million, including $8 million guaranteed. That's crazy money for a 45-catch, 450-yard tight end. The Jets were right to bail out of that situation. Coincidentally, GM John Idzik was in Lubbock, Texas, attending the Texas Tech pro day. He was there to scout pass-catching tight end Jace Amaro, who reportedly ran a 4.68 in the 40. Amaro is projected as a late first-, early-second round pick.

Contract breakdown: Breno Giacomini

March, 14, 2014
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Right tackle Breno Giacomini's contract with the New York Jets is four years, $18 million, including $7 million in guarantees, according to ESPN data.

Giacomini
Looking at it purely from an apples-to-apples perspective, the Jets made out nicely in the Giacomini-for-Austin Howard swap. Gone: A 27-year-old tackle with 32 career starts. His replacement: A 28-year-old tackle with 33 career starts. The dollar-for-dollar comparison, at least for 2014, is significantly different. Howard's cap charge with the Oakland Raiders is $8 million; Giacomini's charge is $2.625 million -- a huge savings for the Jets.

The question is, did they upgrade the position? They're comparable players, according to one AFC personnel executive. Howard had supporters within the Jets' organization, but general manager John Idzik made the call on this one. He spent three seasons with Giacomini in Seattle (2010-12), so he knows the player. If Giacomini flops, it's on Idzik.

One interesting note: Howard has $7.9 million in fully guaranteed money (at the time of signing), not a whole lot more than Giacomini. Clearly, the Jets saw little or no difference between the players. You want to keep players like Howard in your program -- relatively young and ascending -- but Idzik obviously has a comfort level with Giacomini.

A breakdown of the contract:

2014

Cap charge: $2.625 million

Signing bonus: $2.5 million

Roster bonus: $1.0 million (fifth day of league year)

Base salary: $1.0 million (full guaranteed)

2015

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million ($2.5 million guaranteed)

2016

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million

2017

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million

Jets GM John Idzik 'drew a line in the sand'

March, 12, 2014
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The New York Jets took a hit on the first day of free agency, losing right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders. They landed him with a five-year, $30 million contract, including $15 million in guarantees, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

Howard
The entire Howard negotiation provided a glimpse into general manager John Idzik's approach and his reputation as a tough negotiator. He placed a specific value on Howard, a two-year starter, and refused to budge. In the end, he decided not to match Oakland's $6 million-a-year offer, a steep price for a player of Howard's ilk.

There "wasn't a big difference" between the Jets' offer and Howard's asking price, a source said Tuesday night. "It wouldn't have been a stretch for them, but Idzik drew a line in the sand." Talks broke off Tuesday afternoon and Howard got on a plane to the West Coast, becoming an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Howard has a comfort level with Raiders offensive line coach Tony Sparano, formerly the Jets' coordinator, and that played a role in his decision.

So what does this mean for the Jets? Well, it means they have to replace the right side of their line -- and that's never a good thing.

Guard Willie Colon is a free agent and not likely to return. A possible replacement for Howard will arrive Wednesday for free-agent visit -- Breno Giacomini, who spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He started nine games in 2013, missing seven with a knee injury. Giacomini, originally a fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008, has 33 career starts. Idzik, a former Seattle executive, likes him a lot. Giacomini, 28, is a serviceable player, but he doesn't have Howard's upside.

The Jets also made an inquiry about right tackle Zach Strief, whom many believe was the New Orleans Saints' best lineman last season. Evidently, the Jets aren't giving strong consideration to any in-house options. Howard's backup last season was Oday Aboushi, who didn't dress for a single game in what amounted to a redshirt rookie year.

Idzik will get ripped, no doubt, for losing an ascending player like Howard. Let's see how he fills the void before drawing any conclusions.

Twitter mailbag: Sanchez market shrinking

March, 8, 2014
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We're starting something new this week. Actually, it's not a new concept, we're just playing a little catch-up. It's a weekly Twitter "mailbag" with your questions about the New York Jets. Without further delay ...
 

Road trip: Rex, Idzik visit Clemson

March, 6, 2014
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The New York Jets displayed a show of force Thursday at Clemson's pro day, with Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik and senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway showing up to watch several NFL prospects perform for scouts and personnel types.

Watkins
The star attraction was Sammy Watkins, widely regarded as the top wide receiver in the draft and a likely top-10 pick. He stood on his 40 time from the scouting combine (4.43 seconds), but looked smooth catching the football, according to news accounts.

Watkins is Ryan's second-favorite receiver at Clemson. As many of you know, Ryan's son, Seth, is a receiver for the Tigers. The Jets' coach told the Associated Press that he would like to add a receiver (what a revelation!) and that he likes Watkins a whole lot.

"But there's no way he'll be there" when the Jets pick, Ryan said. He's right; there's no chance he'll fall to them at No. 18.

Clemson has another intriguing wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, who is 6-foot-5 and projects as a third-round possibility, according to some. The Jets' contingent also got a good look at quarterback Tajh Boyd, a late-round projection.

About 60 NFL types were in attendance, but Ryan and the Detroit Lions' Jim Caldwell were the only head coaches, according to AP.

Selfishly, Jets want Revis to stay put

February, 26, 2014
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The New York Jets are rooting for cornerback Darrelle Revis to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When the Jets dealt Revis to the Bucs last April, they received a first-round pick (13th overall) and a conditional fourth-round choice that improves to a third-rounder if Revis is on the Bucs' roster for the third day of the 2014 league year -- March 13.

General manager John Idzik probably thought that was a gimme when he made the trade, but now there's speculation that Revis could be traded again. CBS Sports reported that the Bucs were approached at the scouting combine by teams inquiring about his availability. If the Bucs decide to move Revis, their motivation is to get it done by March 13, allowing them to retain their third-round pick.

It's not that hard to trade Revis because he signed a six-year, $96 million contract last year that included no guarantees, meaning no cap hit for the Bucs if they cut or trade him. New coach Lovie Smith is installing a Tampa-2 system -- not a good move for Revis' elite man-to-man skills -- another factor that has people wondering about a trade.

I thought the Bucs made a bad trade last year for Revis, who was coming off major knee surgery, and now it looks really bad. If they do ship him out, they wouldn't get the 13th pick (or anything close) in return. Maybe the Bucs realize what the Jets knew last year: Revis is a terrific player, but he's not worth a $16 million cap charge.

Could Revis return to the Jets? That's funny. Even if they cut Antonio Cromartie, I can't see them turning to Revis unless he gives them a huge discount -- and we all know that's not happening. The Jets are committed to Dee Milliner, and I have a feeling things will work out with Cromartie. Why would they want to go back to the bargaining table with a player who called their general manager a liar last spring? Why would Revis want to go back?

If the Bucs decide to trade him (a big "if" at this point), they'd look like idiots to send him back to the Jets, probably receiving 75 cents on the dollar. But they could impact the Jets by dealing him in the AFC East -- like, say, the New England Patriots, whose best corner, Aqib Talib, is set to become a free agent.

Jets believe in Geno ... they have no choice

February, 21, 2014
2/21/14
8:00
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- At the risk of being flagged for a delay-of-name penalty, the New York Jets refuse to anoint Geno Smith as their starting quarterback. It's just semantics, of course. Whether they declare it or not, they expect him to begin 2014 as the starter.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneThe Jets have plenty invested in Geno Smith, but they'll be at the combine looking for another quarterback next year if he doesn't take a step forward in 2014.
You don't need to be a detective to figure that out. The Jets' hierarchy has used the NFL scouting combine as a pro-Geno platform, expressing optimism -- publicly and privately -– in the second-year quarterback.

But let's face it: The Jets are stuck between a Roc Nation and a hard place. If Jay Z's client backslides this season, they will return to the combine next year with a new coach and a quarterback-needy general manager.

With limited options, the Jets are embarking on a Geno-or-bust journey in 2014. This is the situation that John Idzik has created. The second-year GM handpicked Smith, and you can bet he'll do everything he can to help him succeed.

He'd better be right. If not, the Jets will be in the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes next year, just another draft-lottery team desperate for a franchise quarterback. No team wants to be in that predicament. For the Jets, it would be yet another do-over at the most important position.

So, yeah, they have a lot invested in Smith. They're gambling that those final four games were a harbinger of a bright future, not simply a mirage. It's risky business, placing significant weight on three wins over mediocre competition, but the Jets believe he matured down the stretch.

"He had some rough spots, as the rest of us did as well, but I like the way he finished," Rex Ryan told the national media.

Ryan showed up at the combine armed with research. He mentioned how Smith engineered five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, second only to Tom Brady, and he noted that Smith's QBR over the final four games (78.9) was second-best in the league. Just recently, Ryan took great pleasure in describing how Smith advanced by "a million miles" through the course of the season.

"We were encouraged by the way we, as a team, finished 2013, in particular how Geno finished," Idzik said. "He finished on a strong note. There were a lot of positive signs."

Former longtime general manager Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, agreed with that assessment. But he said of Smith, "Now he's got to make a jump as a professional quarterback. That means fewer interceptions. That's the bottom line."

Polian, reaching into his past, noted how Peyton Manning also struggled in his rookie season, 1998, but that "the arrow was up for the last six games, so we felt good going into the offseason. I'm sure the Jets feel good about [Smith]. His arrow was up for the last four games."

The Indianapolis Colts weren't about to ditch Manning after one year because he was a No. 1 overall pick, so it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison with Smith. He doesn't have that kind of long-term security, but he'll get another season to prove himself as a franchise-caliber quarterback.

What choice do the Jets have?

They own the 18th pick in the draft, high enough to select a quality playmaker to help the offense, but not high enough to take one of the top three quarterbacks. If they draft one, it'll be a developmental player in the later rounds.

Free agency? The market will be filled with short-term fixes, former starters who now project as backups. The Jets probably will sign a David Garrard type, presumably one with healthy knees who can actually get on the field. Maybe it'll be Michael Vick, 33, but he'd be a Band-Aid, not a solution.

How about a trade? The most logical possibility no longer is possible. The Washington Redskins reportedly have no intention of dealing Kirk Cousins, whom many thought would be dangled in trade talks.

Mark Sanchez? Idzik didn't want to go there last year, so there's no reason to think he'll change his thinking, especially with Sanchez coming off shoulder surgery.

Somehow, Idzik must fortify his depth chart with a seasoned quarterback.

"You have to have a quality backup; I'm living proof of that," said Polian, who got burned in 2011 when Manning sat out the season with a neck injury. "If we had one, I'd be talking to you in a different capacity. The bottom line is, you have to have that guy. Who it is isn't as important as what it is."

So true, but the Jets aren't going to land a future starter -- unless they find a winning lottery ticket in the dumpster. The upcoming season is all about Smith, his ability to improve and lead the team to the next level -- the postseason. He's out of mulligans.

If Smith regresses, Idzik will be back in Indianapolis next February, looking for a new quarterback to pair with his new coach.

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