Thinking big on Day 1 of free agency, the New York Jets started negotiations with their No. 1 priority -- wide receiver Santonio Holmes -- and they also showed interest in former Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, league sources said Tuesday night.
It would be a daily double for the ages, landing Holmes and Asomugha, who is widely regarded as the top free agent on the market. The Jets have expressed interest in re-signing cornerback Antonio Cromartie, but they're intrigued by the possibility of an Asomugha-Darrelle Revis tandem, according to sources.
It's unclear if the Jets are willing to get into a bidding war for Asomugha, whose asking price probably exceeds Revis' $11.5 million-a-year salary, but general manager Mike Tannenbaum is known for creative deals. If Asomugha is looking for the most money, it probably rules out the Jets, with teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans reportedly among his suitors.
The Jets are snug against the salary cap, and they also have to decide if they want to pour additional big money into the position of cornerback. If they do, they'd probably have to make sacrifices at other positions. On the flip side, coach Rex Ryan's defense revolves around cornerback play, and he'd have one of the best tandems in recent memory with Revis and Asomugha.
On Tuesday, quarterback Mark Sanchez said he'd be willing to restructure his contract, which has three years remaining, to create more cap room to sign free agents.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, in an interview Tuesday with 1050 ESPN New York, declined to comment on whether they're interested in Asomugha. He played it coy, saying they're always looking for ways to improve the team.
Asomugha is said to be fond of Ryan, and he's friendly with Revis. Two years ago at the Pro Bowl, they talked about one day playing together, which created headlines. At the time, Asomugha was under contract to the Raiders.
The Jets may have another built-in advantage -- the New York market. ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, a guest Tuesday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio, said Asomugha is intrigued with New York because he wants to get into acting when his career is over.
Aside from flirting with Asomugha and Holmes, the Jets used the first day of free agency to solidify the right-tackle position. They agreed to terms on a four-year deal with Wayne Hunter, who finished last season as the starter. He replaced Damien Woody, who suffered knee and Achilles tendon injuries. Woody, released in February, is mulling retirement.
Also Tuesday, the Jets contacted many of their own free agents, including wide receiver Braylon Edwards, safety Eric Smith, defensive end Shaun Ellis and wide receiver Brad Smith. Smith is drawing interest from several teams.
Their top target is Holmes, who is said to be high on the Washington Redskins' wish list. But the Redskins are bringing back Santana Moss, who agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal. That won't preclude them from wooing Holmes, but negotiations with the Jets have intensified.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.