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|Kirby Lee/US Presswire|
|The New York Jet's blockbuster trade to grab Mark Sanchez was the news out of the first day of the NFL Draft Saturday.|
The AFC East exhibited classic passive-aggressive behavior Saturday.
The New York Jets identified the man they wanted and attacked the draft. The New England Patriots saw nothing that struck them and backpedalled themselves out of the first round.
The Jets and Patriots traded like their futures depended on it.
The Miami Dolphins made a late second-round swap of picks with the Indianapolis Colts. The Buffalo Bills traded a pair of picks to the Dallas Cowboys so they could grab Oregon State guard Andrew Levitre in the second round.
But the Jets pulled off the blockbuster and the Patriots were, by far, the busiest.
With the Detroit Lions sucking all the drama out of the No. 1 selection by signing Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford on Friday night, the Jets became the story of the draft with a trade that brought them Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez.
For the second time in nine months, intrepid Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum swung a monster deal to get his club a marquee quarterback. In July, he brought in a legend at the end of the line. On Saturday, he made a dramatic move for burgeoning star.
To make it happen, the Jets hooked up with Eric Mangini, the head coach they fired a few months back. Mangini, now with the Cleveland Browns, had no interest in another quarterback and gladly accepted an infusion of assets.
The Jets traded two draft picks (Nos. 17 and 52), quarterback Brett Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and safety Abram Elam to maneuver into the No. 5 slot, where Sanchez awaited with a grin.
Given the circumstances, Sanchez to the Big Apple eclipses Stafford to the Big Grapple.
Sanchez looks like he strutted straight off the Warner Brothers lot. He has the magnetic presence of a star quarterback. He comes from a glamour college. His future is as bright as a klieg light.
Sanchez better pan out. Indicative of their infatuation with him, the Jets parted with an awful lot and likely poisoned Kellen Clemens, who must feel second-rate all over again.
The Jets obviously don't have faith in Clemens, a 2006 second-round pick out of Oregon. He failed to seize the job last year, compelling the Jets to trade for Brett Favre. The Jets disintegrated down the homestretch. They didn't make the playoffs and fired Mangini. Favre retired, leaving the quarterback competition to Clemens, Ratliff and Erik Ainge.
New Jets coach Rex Ryan repeatedly insisted they were confident with the quarterbacks on their roster, that they could advance with the candidates on hand. But the Jets dropped too many hints along the way, the most obvious their interest in Jay Cutler -- until Saturday, that is.
The Patriots took a polar approach.
They saw no one they wanted badly enough in the first round. They had plenty of firepower to move up from their No. 23 slot, entering the draft with 11 picks. They owned four in the top 59 and six in the top 97.
New England overlord Bill Belichick, in his first draft without Scott Pioli, revealed right before the draft began there was "less than zero" chance they would advance in the order. They went the other way, trading the No. 23 pick the Baltimore Ravens and then trading No. 26 to the Green Bay Packers for more materials.
Before the Patriots drafted their first player, Oregon strong safety Patrick Chung in the second round, they had increased their war chest to 13 picks.
They spun a couple picks to the Oakland Raiders to move up in the second round for Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace. One spot later, they used a pick acquired from the Packers to grab Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler.
The Patriots traded so many picks, their front office had to send out a press release to explain them all.
Trade winds sent the paperwork flying all afternoon and night in the AFC East. With a few hours to regroup overnight, expect another flurry on Sunday.