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Sunday notes: Jets could return to L.I.

8/2/2014

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- After a few weeks in hibernation, the New York Jets Sunday notes are back:

1. Homeward bound? It's early to be talking about next summer, but the Jets' Long Island-based fans will appreciate this. SUNY-Farmingdale is under consideration as the team's training-camp home in 2015, according to sources. In fact, Jets staffers already have checked out the Farmingdale facilities. The school doesn't have a football team -- therefore, no football field -- but it has intriguing potential because it has plenty of space for fields and extensive on-site parking. The Jets haven't made a final decision -- they're exploring options, including Cortland -- but I'm hearing that Farmingdale is gaining momentum.

It could come down to a football vs. marketing decision for the Jets. From a football standpoint, Cortland is ideal because of its facilities and remote location -- 200 miles from Florham Park, N.J., isolating the players and coaches from friends and family. That means fewer distractions, a great place to build team chemistry. Rex Ryan loves it here. On the downside, the Jets are a long way from their season-ticket holders, and returning to their Long Island roots would help them reconnect with a segment of the fan base that believes it has been ignored since the team bolted Hofstra in 2008. Farmingdale probably would draw bigger crowds than Cortland, and never forget this: The NFL is a business.

2. Cap relief: The Jets received a $1.75 million salary-cap credit this year because of an injury grievance it settled with former nose tackle Sione Po'uha, who was released in March 2013. Let me explain. Pouha, whose 2013 salary ($5.0 million) was guaranteed against injury but not skill, filed the grievance because he believed his release was injury-related, sources said. A true warrior and team leader, he played with a severe back ailment in 2012, one that caused complications after the season.

When a grievance is pending, 40 percent of the player's salary counts against the cap, according to the collective bargaining agreement. In other words, Po'uha counted $2 million on the 2013 cap. Several months ago, he received a $250,000 settlement from the Jets, sources said. That amount was deducted from the $2 million hit in '13, resulting in the $1.75 million credit this year.

The Jets would have had a ton of cap space without the Po'uha verdict. Now they have even more, about $21 million. Po'uha, 35, who didn't play last season, is unofficially retired.

3. The nomads: It always raises eyebrows when a player bounces around the league. In many cases, there's a story behind the story. The Jets added two such players -- cornerback Dimitri Patterson and pass rusher Jason Babin. Babin, with his seventh team in 12 years, is particularly interesting because he has been highly productive in the past -- and yet he's always on the move. Something is fishy.

"The guy's personality can over time wear out his welcome, and he's not real good vs. the run at the point of attack," one AFC personnel executive said.

The Jets plan to make Babin a situational pass rusher, so his inability (and/or desire) to play the run shouldn't be a major factor. But it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the others. The Jets have a tightly-knit group on defense, especially the linemen, and an outsider with attitude might not play well in the room.

When I asked Babin about his transient career, he said, "The cool thing was the opportunity I've gotten over the years, living in different places. It's really helped shape me as a man, a husband and a father. I appreciate all the different opportunities I've had."

4. No Holmes withdrawal: The wide receiver room is a lot different without Santonio Holmes. The chemistry is better, from what I'm told. The elder statesman is Eric Decker, and he's still only 27. The current group of receivers is closer in age than the Holmes group, resulting in more interaction between the players in the meeting room. Holmes wasn't a loner -- he tried to help younger players if he was in the mood -- but, for the most part, he was high-maintenance. Said receivers coach Sanjay Lal: "This is a tight group. They've become good friends quickly."

5. Doubling Decker: A popular theory floating around is that, unless another receiver option emerges, Decker will see a lot of double coverage. Obviously, that didn't happen often in Denver, not with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker on the field. The Jets have an answer: Decker will line up a lot on the same side as Jeremy Kerley, whom they believe is a weapon in the slot.

"How do you double-cover that?" Lal asked. "Schematically, you can dictate who gets double covered."

6. Catching up with Sanchize: Based on the early reports out of Philadelphia, Mark Sanchez is having a terrific camp. People say his arm looks stronger than ever, which is interesting because people around the Jets believed he had lost arm strength in recent years. They noticed a drop-off late in 2010, when he suffered a shoulder injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He avoided surgery, but he was never really the same. In a crazy kind of way, maybe last year's shoulder surgery -- the result of an infamous preseason injury -- was a blessing in disguise. It allowed doctors to finally correct an ongoing issue that was having an impact his play.

7. Westhoff rips Milliner: Suffice it to say, former special teams coach Mike Westhoff isn't a Dee Milliner fan, and he didn't care for Milliner's "best-cornerback" comment. "Man, I'm not sure he's the best cornerback up here in Cortland. And I might include the university," Westhoff said in a radio interview. Ouch.

Westhoff, visiting camp in his role as an analyst for ESPN New York 98.7 FM, remains in good standing with the Jets. In fact, he attends Ryan's daily news conferences and isn't shy about asking questions. He posed an insightful question the other day, noting how linebacker Quinton Coples failed to set the edge on a particular run to the outside. Ryan agreed with his former coordinator.

8. Wilkerson's contract situation: Two first-rounders from the 2011 draft class -- cornerback Patrick Peterson and tackle Tyron Smith -- have received huge contract extensions. There has been a lot of speculation about the possibility of an extension for Muhammad Wilkerson, picked 30th in 2011. General manager John Idzik doesn't comment on contracts. One longtime league executive, asked if he thinks Wilkerson will get a new deal before the season, said, "John doesn't do anything unless he has to." In other words, sit tight, Mo; it might not happen until next year. He's signed through 2015.

9. The new Geno: Geno Smith looks more at ease than last season, and it's not even close. That goes for on the field and off the field.

10. The new CJ2K: Chris Johnson had 69 percent of the Tennessee Titans' total rushing yardage since 2008, the highest percentage of any player in the league. You can bet his percentage won't be that high with the Jets, not with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell also in the backfield. I could see that number dropping to the 40-to-50-percent range.