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NY Jets: The franchise’s checkered past with its star players

NY Jets (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
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The NY Jets and superstar safety Jamal Adams are at an impasse. The franchise has been down this road before.

Longtime fans of the NY Jets, have seen this movie before. The star-crossed franchise has had difficulty finding cornerstone players over the years. Even when they finally do land one, the relationship almost always ends poorly.

Once upon a time, the NY Jets drafted Keyshawn Johnson first overall in the 1996 NFL Draft. After some early stumbles, mostly due to the controversy surrounding Keyshawn’s “Just Give me the Damn Ball!” mantra and book, Johnson became one of the league’s best all-around wide receivers.

Johnson helped turn the Jets franchise around from a laughing stock to an AFC East title in 1998 and a trip to the AFC Championship. The pressure was on Keyshawn to live up to his lofty draft status, and he delivered on the biggest stage.

One of Johnson’s best performances was in a 34–24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC Divisional playoff game after the 1998 season.

In that game, Johnson caught nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and even intercepted a pass on defense. It was one of the best playoff performances by a Jets player ever.

Within two years after Johnson’s ascent to stardom, contract talks with the Jets and their star wide receiver stalled. It led to Keyshawn Johnson being traded away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first-round picks.

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A great deal in retrospect, but the Jets were a championship-contending team that traded away one of their best players.

Along came superstar pass-rusher, John Abraham, as a result of the Keyshawn Johnson trade. After being selected as one of the Jets four first-round picks in the 2000 NFL Draft. A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, Abraham became one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

The Jets and Abraham had a rocky relationship throughout. The Jets tagged Abraham as their franchise player, but injuries and contract squabbles over the years, along with questions about Abraham’s desire, led to the Jets trading him away in 2006.

Quite frankly, the Jets are still looking for their next John Abraham. It’s been a long time since the franchise has had an elite pass rusher like him. A never-ending question mark on the Jets roster that has yet to be answered.

20 years and counting.

The NY Jets have been down this road before with Darrelle Revis.

The greatest individual player in Jets’ history is arguably Darrelle Revis. Pound for pound, from 2007-2011, there may not have been a more dominant position player in the entire league than Revis. He was a special once in a lifetime player at cornerback — the ultimate shutdown corner.

The last time, the Jets were a legit championship contender. Revis was the catalyst behind two consecutive AFC Championship runs. The marriage between Revis and the Jets should have lasted forever.

From the moment, the Jets moved heaven and earth to draft Revis in 2007. The Jets and Darrelle had contract issues. Revis missed the first 21 days of training camp in his rookie season due to a contract dispute.

Once Darrelle established himself as a superstar. The contract demands created a wedge between Revis and the team. The two sides would resolve their issues in 2010, but by 2013, in the prime of his career, the Jets traded Revis away to Tampa.

Jets fans watched as Revis made yet another Pro Bowl in Tampa before heading to the Patriots and winning a Super Bowl championship.

Revis would make his way back to New York for one last run at the tail-end of his career, but by then, he wasn’t his former self, and the Jets window of being a real contender was closed.

The Jets’ history of keeping their star players is not a good one. In the NFL, the difference between contending and non-contending teams is a narrow one.

What usually sets teams apart in the NFL is the number of elite players they have on their roster. Most championship teams have three to five on each side of the ball.

The NY Jets lack difference-making players on their team. Hence the reason why they haven’t been a contender in years. The franchise is hoping that quarterback Sam Darnold will reach that status, but the player who already has is Jamal Adams.

The NY Jets and megastar Jamal Adams are at a crossroads. Adams is seeking a long-term deal, but ultimately what he seeks is respect after last season’s trade deadline controversy.

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The Jets may not have initiated trading away their best player, but they sure as hell entertained the possibility.

Adams feels slighted by his current team — he wants to be a part of a winning organization and wants to be treated like a winner as well. Jets management has said all the right things publicly, but the relationship between Adams and the franchise is a strained one.

General manager Joe Douglas is off to a great start in his honeymoon period with the Jets fanbase. However, the first big test for Douglas as GM is repairing the franchise’s relationship with its best player.

Adams is the Jets’ best player, and he should be the leader of the franchise, but it feels as if he is not a part of the team at the moment. Even though he technically still is. The Jets can’t move forward as a franchise if they are not on the same page with Adams.

History has a way of repeating itself. You can see where this is headed.

The groundwork has been laid for Adams to be dealt away at some point for the “greater good’ of the franchise. The problem is that finding players like Jamal Adams is easier said than done.

Next. NY Jets: 3 interesting things to know about new QB James Morgan

Finding elite cornerstone players like Adams has always been challenging for the Jets, but hanging on to players like Adams, has always been the hardest part.

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