Dec 22, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerbackAlterraun Verner
(20) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiverAndrew Hawkins
(16) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, the Jets have been said to have the most interest in Mike Vick as a backup quarterback but they have also been linked to Shaun Hill and Josh McCown. Personally I think that Shaun Hill is the right choice. He has shown he can come in and start in a pinch and it won’t cause all of the outside distractions that signing Vick would bring. Vick, however, does run the West Coast Offense well and has played under Mornhinweg so he would fit on the football field. There has been a strong link between the team and Jon Asamoah. Asamoah is a guard that is just entering his prime so it would be an upgrade to the injury-prone Willie Colon. The Jets have interest in another tight end after signing Cumberland to a team-friendly three-year, 3.7 million dollar agreement. Ed Dickson, Brandon Pettigrew and Scott Chandler have been discussed according to multiple reports.
The Jets have been linked to Andrew Hawkins of the Bengals, who is a very elusive wide receiver that doubles as a returner. A lot of fans, myself included, wanted to trade for him before last season but better late than never. His agent, Donte Robinson, said both that he was trying to get one of his players to the Jets and Andrew Hawkins would be a great fit here on Twitter (@DRobinson_Elite). Robinson was speaking to Jake Steinberg (@Steiny31) originally, then myself (@CraigLauraSam). He also has been linked through other reports. Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers is a player the Jets are said to like via multiple reports. Sanders is a vertical deep threat, who has never averaged less than 11 yards per reception and had six touchdowns in 2013, and that is ascending at age 26. I prefer Golden Tate to Sanders but Sanders wouldn’t be a bad choice, especially pairing him with the short and intermediate threats of Kerley and Hawkins. There was also a Daily News report that the Jets were interested in Maurice Jones-Drew. I don’t know how much Jones-Drew has left, even though he is only 28 years old but he does catch the ball very well out of the backfield and can pass block. He might thrive in a reduced role, paired with Ivory and Powell.
Obviously the Jets can’t sign all of these players but it is nice to see that they recognize that these are the positions of need and that they are going to aggressively try to improve those areas. The best thing about these rumors are that none of the players are over 28 years old, and pieces to add to the core long-term not just stopgaps.