The free agency signing period begins Tuesday, March 11th at 4PM and there has been no shortage of Jets news and rumors during this weekend’s open negotiation period. Some will be true, some will be floated by agents and some will be floated by teams but what is undeniable is the positions the team are targeting at the opening of free agency.
The Jets have put the emphasis on the secondary so far. In addition to claiming Johnny Patrick from the Chargers, resigning two of their own in Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster, they have cut Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie’s cut saves the Jets $9.5 million in salary cap room but leaves a gaping hole at cornerback. According to many, including Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have shown interest in the number one free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner. Verner, who has interest from the Rams and Vikings as well, is five years younger and is just beginning his prime. There have been reports that Verner has not scheduled any visits and that his decision will come very soon after 4PM on Tuesday insinuating that a deal may already be in place. Whether it is with the Jets remains to be seen but the timing of Cromartie’s cut coincided with the Verner reports.
In addition to the reports of the Jets interest in Jairus Byrd before the weekend, the Jets have been linked to safeties Donte Whitner and Chris Clemons. Clearly John Idzik has recognized that the safety play, especially in coverage, has been a liability for the Jets and is out to fix it. The cornerback market has blown up this offseason, almost doubling the previous year’s salaries. Brent Grimes had to settle for a one year, $5 million contract last offseason. This season Sam Shields has already received a four-year, 39.5 million dollar contract before the market has even officially opened. The Jets won’t be able to sign Verner and Byrd but Verner and Whitner is one solid consolation prize. Donte Whitner is a hard-hitting safety that greatly improved his coverage skills this year and would be a great addition. Chris Clemons is a coverage specialist who doesn’t play well against the run.