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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Jets tender Santonio Holmes

By Rich Cimini
ESPNNewYork.com

The New York Jets made qualifying tenders Tuesday to their potential restricted free agents, including cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes -- both of whom received first- and third-round tenders.

By placing the highest-level tender on Cromartie and Holmes, the Jets are basically saying they have no intention of losing them to another team. Of course, there's a good chance the tenders could be moot, depending on the outcome of the labor negotiations.

While the moves temporarily secure the players' rights, it's unclear what their status will be under a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires Thursday night.

Under the current rules, Cromartie and Holmes -- both with five years' experience -- would be considered restricted free agents. In that case, any team that signs one of them would have to compensate the Jets with first- and third-round picks. But if the new rules revert to pre-2010 requirements, as many believe will happen, both players would have enough service to be unrestricted free agents and the tenders wouldn't apply.

The one-year contract amount for Cromartie and Holmes would be $3.5 million.

Holmes is believed to be No. 1 on the Jets' priority list, but there's no chance he will sign a long-term contract with the team before Friday, his agent, Joel Segal, said in a phone interview. That's hardly a shocker, as general manager Mike Tannenbaum has made it clear he won't do any big deals until the labor situation is clarified.

Aside from Holmes and Cromartie, the Jets' other big-name free agent is wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The Jets didn't have to tender him because he has six years of experience, meaning he will be unrestricted in any system. Linebacker David Harris was to be a free agent, but he signed his franchise tender for an estimated $10 million.

The Jets made tenders to five other potential restricted free agents. Kick returner Brad Smith received a second-round tender; safety Eric Smith and quarterback Kellen Clemens were tendered at the third-round level; cornerback Drew Coleman and kicker Nick Folk received sixth-round tenders. The Jets will have the right of first refusal for safety James Ihedigbo and offensive lineman Rob Turner.

In addition, the Jets made it official, announcing they have released nose tackle Kris Jenkins, linebacker Jason Taylor and right tackle Damien Woody.

The Jets haven't confirmed the release of defensive end Vernon Gholston. The move is expected to happen Wednesday or Thursday, according to a league source.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.