Final eight rules put Jets in a jam

February, 27, 2010
2/27/10
5:32
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan certainly didn't short us on material to write about Saturday.

My series of Ryan posts from the NFL scouting combine resumes with his thoughts about being forced to comply with the "final eight" plan.

The Jets -- and the other seven teams that reached the division playoff round -- are handcuffed by their success because of unusual rules for the uncapped year.

Essentially, they aren't allowed to sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one of their own. When that happens, the Jets are limited in paying their new player no more than the player they lost.

"I think it is a penalty for sure," Ryan said. "Maybe you need a tight end or whatever it is and you don't have that ability to go out and get some of the top guys that might be available."

Remember the story of how Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine pulled a creepy crawly on Bart Scott last year, the moment free agency began at midnight?

Now they have to sit back and wait until Tony Richardson or Jay Feely or Marques Douglas find new jobs.

"Usually, free agency is part of maybe some of your decisions and all that kind of stuff," Ryan said, "but we don't have that opportunity right now until we lose an [unrestricted] free agent. So we don’t have that. We have to find a way."

The Jets do have some options. They're allowed to sign players who have been cut before their contracts have expired and free agents who didn't play in 2009.

The Jets also can make all the trades they want. General manager Mike Tannenbaum has no aversion to that.

"I challenged our players and our coaches to find a way to get better, each guy get a little bit better and maybe that will be the difference," Ryan said. "We have to build from within, that’s what this thing sets up.

"There won't be that much roster turnover for our football team. We've got to find a way to get better, and I think we can. I think we will improve as much or more than any other football team in this league. And that is what I am excited about. I know we can. I know we can get better physically, and I know we will get much better mentally and understanding our defense and our offense."

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