NFL Team Report - New York Jets - INSIDE SLANT
One of the most underwhelming quarterback battles in the NFL got a whole lot more interesting last Friday night, when the Jets selected West Virginia's Geno Smith in the second round of the draft.
The presence of the polarizing Smith interjects some drama -- something that owner Woody Johnson surely enjoys -- into what was a two-man derby between the beleaguered Mark Sanchez and the injury-prone David Garrard.
And while Smith is the future at quarterback for the Jets, Sanchez and Garrard made it clear Thursday they're eager to prove they belong behind center for the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8.
"As long as I'm healthy and able to continue to work with the team and don't have setbacks with my knee or my back or anything like that, then I know that I have the ability to (start)," said Garrard, who missed the last two years following back and knee surgeries.
"But I can't talk about it. I've still got to go out on the field and do it. I've been trying to be the No. 1 guy for the last two years and it's one thing after the other that hasn't allowed that."
Sanchez, as always, said all the right things about how the Jets were still his team -- just as he did last year, when he ended up distracted by the Tim Tebow circus.
"No doubt," Sanchez said when asked if he expected to remain the starter. "Sure. Of course."
But last year, Sanchez had the support of his head coach and ownership. Now, Rex Ryan is out of patience with Sanchez -- remember the icy death stare he gave Sanchez after the five-turnover game against Tennessee officially extinguished the Jets' playoff hopes -- and fighting to keep his job under new general manager John Idzik, whose favorite talking point is competition, which is something Sanchez didn't face in his first four seasons.
"They said. 'We're going to compete' and that's what we're doing," Sanchez said of Jets management. "They drafted a quarterback, so let's compete."
NFL Team Report - New York Jets - NOTES, QUOTES
--One player who won't be competing for the starting quarterback job -- finally and officially -- is Tim Tebow, whose bizarre tenure with the Jets came to a merciful conclusion when the Jets released him Monday morning.
Tebow's release was announced in a 136-word news release that came 399 days after the Jets, in perhaps the worst move in franchise history, sent fourth- and sixth-round picks to the Broncos in exchange for Tebow.
The Jets promised to come up with innovative ways to use Tebow, but of course, those plans never came to fruition as he took just 77 offensive snaps -- or roughly one snap per press conference he conducted.
Despite having no interest in bringing Tebow back to vie for the starting job this summer, the Jets -- who owed the Broncos $2.53 million, or half of Tebow's original signing bonus -- held onto him beyond the draft in hopes of being able to trade him. But with the Jets possessing as much negotiating power as Tebow possessed marketability, his release was inevitable, complete with the canned quote from Rex Ryan.
"We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow," Ryan said in a press release. "Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped."
That's one way to put it.
--The Jets added depth along the offensive line Monday, when they signed guard Steven Peterman, who spent the last seven years with the Lions. Peterman started all 16 games last year and should compete for a starting job with fellow free-agent signing Willie Colon and rookie Brian Winters.
--Running back Chris Ivory, whom the Jets acquired from the Saints in exchange for a fourth-round pick during the second day of the draft, signed a three-year extension on Monday. Ivory, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry in three seasons with the Saints, enters the season as the heavy favorite to serve as the Jets' No. 1 running back.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're just professional and you're cool, and if the guy has a flat tire on the side of the road, I'm going to stop, I'm not just going to blow by him. But at the same time, I'm not sending him gifts on his birthday or anything." -- Jets QB Mark Sanchez on the awkward relationship he shared with Tim Tebow as they competed for playing time last year.
NFL Team Report - New York Jets - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Jets' picks:
Round 1/9 - Dee Milliner, CB, 6-0, 201, Alabama
Milliner was one of the most decorated cornerbacks in the draft, as well as perhaps its most banged-up. He's already had five surgeries, including a recent shoulder operation to repair a torn labrum, but the Jets are confident in his medical records and believe he can perform in the NFL as he did at Alabama, where he led the nation with 21 pass breakups last year. Not drafted to replace Darrelle Revis, but will likely anchor the secondary for years to come.
Round 1/13 - Sheldon Richardson, DT, 6-3, 294, Missouri
Viewed as a bit of a reach by many draftniks, but Richardson fills a glaring need for a team that lost its two starting nose tackles and whose rush defense fell to 26th in the NFL last season. Richardson only played two years at Missouri but led the SEC with 75 tackles last year and recorded 30 tackles on third or fourth down.
Round 2/39 -- Geno Smith, QB, 6-3, 218, West Virginia
One way or the other, he'll likely be the defining pick of the John Idzik Era. Jets were thrilled he fell from a potential No. 1 overall pick all the way into their laps in the second round, but is it a good idea to draft a quarterback when the head coach is very likely entering a lame-duck season? Smith's struggles in the second half of his senior season - and in the wintry conditions of the Pinstripe Bowl, located just a few miles from MetLife Stadium - are cause for concern, but his upside was too good to pass up. May not be an immediate starter, but Mark Sanchez's days in green and white are surely numbered.
Round 3/72 - Brian Winters, G, 6-4, 320, Kent State
Another pick who will contribute right away. Winters played left tackle at Kent State but is expected to move to guard for the Jets, who lost guards Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore via free agency. A tough (he was a wrestler in high school) and experienced (50 starts in college) player, Winters should fit right in with the Jets' lunch-pail offensive line.
Round 5/141 - Oday Aboushi, T, 6-6, 308, Virginia
Aboushi, a Brooklyn native, is more of a project, especially with Austin Howard ahead of him on the depth chart. Like Winters, he played guard at the Senior Bowl and could end up becoming a versatile utilityman along the line.
Round 6/178 - William Campbell, DT, 6-5, 311, Michigan
Yet another player who will switch positions as a pro. Campbell played in 51 straight games, mostly at defensive tackle, for the Wolverines but is expected to move to the offensive line. He's more of a long-term project than Aboushi and may not see much action as a rookie.
Round 7/215 - Tommy Bohanon, RB, 6-1 246, Wake Forest
Bohanon was a do-everything type at Wake Forest who played four years of special teams and has experience at both tight end and H-back, so he has the potential to be a useful late-round find. With Lex Hilliard atop the depth chart at fullback, Bohanon should have a chance to compete for the starting job immediately.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4)
--WR Braylon Edwards made an unlikely return to the Jets after he was cut by the Seahawks last December and became an unlikely contributor with 10 catches in the final three games. Of course, he was a contributor solely because the Jets had the worst wide receiver corps in the league. Edwards is clearly on the downside at 30, and the fact that new Jets GM John Idzik was with the Seahawks last year surely doesn't help his chances of returning.
--G Brandon Moore is one of the Jets' two longest-tenured players and he showed no signs of slowing down in his 11th season and would likely be welcomed back. He did appear worn out by the constant drama surrounding the Jets, though, and could seek a deal with a contender.
--WR Chaz Schilens played in 15 games, his most since his rookie year in 2008, but Schilens proved to be nothing more than a replacement-level talent. Won't likely be pursued by Idzik and might have a hard time finding a deal anywhere.
--LB Bryan Thomas is the lone remaining signee from 2002. He fared pretty well as a rotational player before suffering a torn pectoral muscle in December. That's just the latest injury in a litany of ailments suffered by Thomas over the years and more proof there's little left in the tank. His chances of returning may have further diminished when it was revealed he was arrested on domestic violence and drug possession charges in October.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--TE Dedrick Epps (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--TE Jeff Cumberland: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation; $1.323M/1 yr.
--K Nick Folk: UFA; $780,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--RB Lex Hilliard: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Austin Howard: RFA tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation); terms unknown.
--LB Josh Mauga: Potential RFA; terms unknown.
--LB Calvin Pace: FA, had been released by Jets; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LS Tanner Purdum: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Antwan Barnes: UFA Chargers; $4M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
--G Willie Colon: FA Steelers; $1.2M/1 yr.
--NT Antonio Garay: FA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB David Garrard: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Mike Goodson: UFA Raiders; $6.9M/3 yrs.
--RB Chris Ivory (trade Saints).
--S Jaiquawn Jarrett: FA; terms unknown.
--S Dawan Landry: FA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--G Stephen Peterman: FA Lions; terms unknown.
--FB/TE Josh Baker (released).
--S Yeremiah Bell: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--DE Mike DeVito: UFA Chiefs; $12.6M/3 yrs, $6.2M guaranteed.
--RB Shonn Greene: UFA Titans; $10M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.
--TE Dustin Keller: UFA Dolphins; $4.25M/1 yr, $2.25M guaranteed.
--S LaRon Landry: UFA Colts; $24M/4 yrs, $14M guaranteed.
--NT Sione Po'uha (released).
--CB Darrelle Revis (traded Buccaneers).
--LB Bart Scott (released).
--G Matt Slauson: UFA Jets; $815,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.
--S Eric Smith (released).
--T Jason Smith (released).
--QB Tim Tebow (released).