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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Jets Move From Free Agency To The Draft!

As we move away from the free agent period, most of the big names have been signed. The big one still left is Ezekiel Ansah, the edge pass rusher who is still unsigned because teams are waiting for the Dr.’s report on his injured shoulder. The Jets have been signing some of their own players. Within the last couple of days WR Deontay Burnett, DB Jeremy Clark, QB Davis Webb, OL Ben Braden and S Doug Middleton have all signed their exclusive rights tenders. The Jets are still thin (real thin) at offensive line so don’t be surprised if they pick up a few veteran players such as: John Sullivan (C), Brett Jones (C), Josh Sitton (G) or Corey Robinson (T) among others. Missing out on centers Mitch Morsse and Matt Paradis, Jets offensive line coach Frank Pollack (best off season PU by Jets) knows what the team needs and his voice will be heard in the next 4 weeks. Moving toward draft day, Green Rewind’s own rankings have changed a bit. Here are our latest top ten:

1) Nick Bosa, Ohio State, Edge
2) Ed Oliver, Houston, DL
3) Quinnen Williams, Alabama, DL
4) Montez Sweat, Miss. St., Edge
5) Clelin Ferrell, Clemson, Edge
6) Josh Allen, KY., Edge
7) Jawaan Taylor, Florida, OL
8) Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
9) Devin White, LB, LSU
10)T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Please keep in mind this is not the way I think the draft will go. But it is my rankings based on talent. A few things.

1) We love Nick Bosa. He has the best skill set of any of this overloaded defensive talent draft. A lot of Jet fans are enamored with Josh Allen the pass rusher from Kentucky. He is one of the most gifted athletes you will ever see. But in reviewing all his film, I am not convinced he will get by with his talent in the NFL. I had addressed this before but if you look closely at his sacks, they are all basically the same move. He uses his incredible speed to go around the tackle to the outside almost untouched. There is very little film of him doing a spin move, a bull rush, splitting a double team or even doing stunts to go inside. His move is the same almost each and every sack. I would pass on Josh Allen.

2) I had Quinnen Williams as the second most talented player in the draft but this has changed. Now I would take Houston’s Ed Oliver before Williams but it’s very close. And I changed it before Oliver’s pro day last week. Both players have an incredible first step. What stands out to me about Ed Oliver is that this 6’3” 291 lbs. Houston native has a motor unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. He has an edge to him getting into an on field argument with his coach but I think this is a positive. So Ed Oliver is a nose ahead of Quinnen Williams but both will be excellent pros.  
                                   Ed Oliver Highlights

3) Okay, here is a scenario we may see next month in Nashville for the top 10 picks.

1 Arizona Cardinals-Kyler Murray QB, Oklahoma, It’s pretty well known how new coach Kliff Kingsbury feels about Murray. Rumors are swirling that Josh Rosen is on the market.   
2 San Francisco 49ers-Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama, With Dee “offside” Ford signed as a free agent, GM John Lynch bypasses Nick Bosa and goes for this great DL from Alabama. 
3 New York Jets-Nick Bosa, Ohio State, Edge, GM Mike Maccagnan can’t resist Bosa after fielding incredible last second offers from teams wanting to move up to the Jets spot.   
4 Oakland Raiders- Ed Oliver, Houston, DL. Jon Gruden loves the Raider mystique and loves getting guys who fit. No one on the draft board fits in more with the Raiders than Oliver. 
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Dwayne Haskins, QB Ohio State, Despite assurances from new coach Bruce Arians that Jameis Winston is the starter, he can’t resist what Haskins offers. 
6 New York Giants-Josh Allen, KY., Edge, GM Dave Gettleman insists if Allen wasn’t available, he would have traded out of round. He adds, “hog mollies will be gotten later on.”     
7 Jacksonville Jags-T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa, With Doug Marrone on notice, Tom Coughlin reaches for this 21 year old who had 49 catches with 6 TDs as a sophomore. And he blocks well. 

8 Detroit Lions- Drew Lock, QB, Missouri, With Matt Stafford throwing only 21 TD passes, Matt Patricia cannot pass up on Lock who has a rifle & his personality reminds him of Brady. 
9 Buffalo Bills-D. K. Metcalf, WR, Old Miss., Continuing with surrounding Josh Allen with quality, Bills can’t resist this dynamic WR who averaged 21.9 yards per reception.      

10 Denver Broncos-Daniel Jones, QB, Duke, John Elway’s prayers are answered as he plucks the player the Broncos had rated as the most complete quarterback on the board.   

T-Ball Skills & Drills

It is extremely possible that for the second consecutive year (3rd if you count Jamal Adams) that a player unexpectingly falls right into the Jets lap. As I have been saying for weeks now, and even years if you have followed me, the closer we get to draft day the quarterback feeding frenzy will take hold. My rankings talent wise do not include a QB in the top 10 but because there is such a desperate need to get that franchise quarterback, teams overpay and overrate players at that position. Case in point is to look at what Denver GM John Elway has gone through the last few years trying to find that missing piece. Starting in 2008 with Jay Cutler as the starter, here is a list of players who have started regular season games for the Broncos at quarterback:
Kyle Orton, Chris Simms,Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Simian, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum. And this list doesn’t tell the whole story considering Manning started 57 games during that span. The point is (and we Jet fans know this) it is incredibly hard to find that franchise quarterback. Why is this important to Jet fans? Even though the 2019 crop is not as good as the 2018, teams will reach and reach hard. The Jets picking 3 are in a wonderful position to be in. I wasn’t overly happy that Mike Maccagnan was lobbying publicly the Jets willingness to trade down. He should have been more political with a statement like: “We love the position we are in and will stay there considering the quality of players at the top of this year’s draft. I’ll never say never but unless we are blown away with an offer, we are good with the third pick.” Right now there are an abundance of teams looking for a quarterback. I count at least 13. If the Jets trade out of the 3rd pick, they should not move down too far. I would be reluctant to move out of the top 10 and even hesitant about moving below 6. I strongly feel the Jets pick becomes more valuable as we get closer to draft day. And Maccagnan might want to consider waiting for the draft itself before even considering a trade. He’ll be under pressure with the clock but he should come prepared with 31 different scenarios written out. Of all the teams that need quarterbacks that might contact the Jets about their pick, I would say Denver, Washington and Cincinnati would be the most likely suitors. I would also say Miami but there is no way the Jets will entertain a trade to better a team in their division. 


How The Eagles Moved From 13 to 2 To Draft Wentz
Just to show how a team does it the right way one should look at the Philadelphia Eagles and the 2016 draft. The Eagles had the 13th pick. They were infatuated with Carson Wentz the quarterback from North Dakota State. Picking 13th the Eagles knew they had to get up to the 1st or 2nd pick to have a chance. It would be a major undertaking to do it with one trade so Eagle General Manager, Brooklyn born Howie Roseman planned to try and make the move with multiple trades. The first step was to get into the top 10. For this Philadelphia sent Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and the 13th overall pick to Miami for the Dolphins' No. 8 pick. Then about a week before the draft the Eagles acquired the No. 2 overall pick in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns received Philadelphia's No. 8 overall pick, a third- and fourth-round selection in the draft, and their first-round pick and second-round pick in 2018. The Eagles also got a conditional fifth-round pick (a compensatory fourth-rounder) from the Browns the following season. At the time of this trade, almost everyone thought the Eagles overpaid and overpaid a lot. Howie Roseman realized the value of a franchise quarterback and with a lot of help from Nick Foles, the Eagles went out and won a Super Bowl within two years of the trade. It was a brilliant move by Roseman. Teams might be reluctant to try the same this year waiting for the next super QB crop in 2020 but I promise you there will be teams that will be enamored with Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock. This is all good for the Jets. Now don’t blow it!

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My Jet Draft Nightmare
As we get closer to draft time, I have to confess my own personal demon with my March and April horrible nightmare. Every year as we approach the draft, I have some great memories. Going down to New York City to watch the draft live with friends Ralph Sharaga and Len Kaye. I cherished those days even though we heard names like Mike Taylor, Carl Barzilauskas and Johnny "Lam" Jones come from an always tanned Pete Rozelle as Jet first round picks. Despite these busts we continued our trek into the city excited to see celebrities like Howard Cosell and Paul Zimmerman walking the floor before the picks started. It was the 1983 draft that it started. Ralph had been touting Dan Marino for three years and I became something of a Pitt Panther fan following Marino. In his senior year he threw 17 TD passes and 23 Interceptions. By no means star quality numbers. But if you watched him as closely as both Ralph and I did, you saw his incredible quick release and the toughness he had staying in the pocket till the last second before getting hit. In his Junior year Marino lit it up throwing 37 TD passes and 23 Interceptions and 2,876 yards in only 12 games. He torched Georgia that season in the Sugar Bowl throwing for 261 yards and 3 TD passes. He did everything his Junior year. He made an average team great! He made the “back hip” pass part of his repertoire as only a 20 year old. He knew how to step up in the pocket while Tom Brady was still in diapers. He did things we haven’t seen since Joe Namath’s Junior year at Alabama. As draft day approached in 1983, everyone who followed the NFL knew it was a special quarterback class. John Elway was the first off the board picked by the Colts who he never played for. Todd Blackledge was the next QB picked by the KC Chiefs. We sat in the balcony of the New York Sheraton Hotel drooling over what might become an incredible day in Jet history. We all kept referring to Ralph’s mock draft list because of his accurate history. With the 14th pick, the Bills took Jim Kelly, the place where we all thought Marino would end up. Then with the next pick the Patriots took Tony Eason. The tension was building as we three were wishing and hoping but knew Marino could not last till the 24th pick. After the Eason pick, defensive players seemed to be the trend. The Cowboys with the pick (#23) before the Jets chose Jim Jeffcoat the defensive end from Arizona State and a cheer went up led by us three. This was it. Looking the Jets in the eye was a franchise changer. As Rozelle approached the podium, it was one of the most exciting times I ever felt. Then it happened. “With the 24th pick, the New York Jets pick Ken O’Brian, Quarterback California-Davis.” I was in so much shock and disappointed, I went out of the room to gather myself and missed the next 5 picks including the 27th by the Dolphins-Dan Marino. Since that infamous day April 26, 1983 the reoccurring nightmare has haunted me for 35 years. I’ve tried everything to get rid of them. But these nightmares keep coming every March and April like ragweed and pollen. Nothing has worked including medication, shrinks and even hypnotism. Last year did help with Sam Darnold falling into the Jets laps at 3. But I need more assurance. I’m hoping Sam can get me out of this long term funk as I head into my senior years. Hey Mike Maccagnan, help a Jet fan find lasting peace all year round. Get Sam some protection up front! 

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What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
The Jets might have whiffed on the top two centers on the free-agent market, but Adam Gase has a message from some borderline panicked people about the state of the offensive line:
The Jets head coach didn’t sound overly concerned this week at the annual league meetings about the group paid to protect the franchise’s most important player. Although CEO Christopher Johnson recently underscored the importance of giving Sam Darnold better weapons and protection heading into his second season, it’s fair to wonder whether Gang Green did enough to improve the offensive line.
“I would say that we’re a work in progress right now,” Gase said. “We’ll see how the draft goes. The last three years, we’ve added so many guys during that waiver claim (period) after training camp … whether it’s guys that we’ve had in the past, whether it’s young players that got cut or moving on and we end up picking them up. We make some changes up front. Trades. So many things that can happen. We’re at a good starting point right now.” “I think we absolutely need to add,” Gase continued. “We just don’t have that many bodies. You want to create competition. That’s really what you want to do at the end of the day. You want to try to make it to where a couple guys get on a field – that young guy or second- or third-year developmental player is kind of pressing at their heels. So it’s like, ‘Hey I got to keep working because this guy is coming up behind me and he’s going to try to take my spot.’”

…..“We have to add players,” Gase said. “We literally have how many linemen right now? We have eight or nine linemen right now. We’re going to go to camp with what? Fourteen, 15, 16. We have to add some pulses.”

Rich Cimini, ESPN
When the New York Jets' decision-makers conducted their strategy sessions ahead of NFL free agency, they never imagined C.J. Mosley would be available. They figured he'd re-sign with the Baltimore Ravens or get the franchise tag. After all, who lets a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker, three months shy of his 27th birthday, out of their clutches?
So, yes, the Jets were "shocked" when Mosley became a free agent, according to coach Adam Gase.

"When he hit the market," Gase said, "it was a full-court press for us."

It took a record-setting contract to land Mosley -- crazy money, some league insiders will tell you -- but the Jets felt compelled to do it because they're determined to build a winning culture. Gase talked about it on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, saying he wants to fill the locker room with football-first players who put team and winning above themselves. "Dogs," safety Jamal Adams calls them. The Jets identified Mosley as one of those dogs -- a "culture-changer," Gase said -- and they defeated the Ravens in an intense bidding war. Gase is attempting to eradicate the losing mindset from the Jets' locker room, and his first big move was to steal a piece of the Raven Way.

…..Quite frankly, it's an insane amount of money for a linebacker who doesn't sack the quarterback and doesn't excel in pass coverage. The Ravens never thought they would lose him, but there's an old saying in free agency: It only takes one. The Jets were the one, a team flush with cap space and desperate to remove the stink of eight straight non-playoff seasons.
"It's what the market bears out," said general manager Mike Maccagnan, defending the Mosley contract. "A lot of people were surprised when he [got to free agency]. He was highly sought after, and we knew going into it that we'd have to be very aggressive."
Winning franchises such as the Ravens draft and develop their own culture-changers, from one generation to the next. The Jets have failed at that, so they have to buy them. And it ain't cheap.

Brian Costello, NY Post
The Jets have a head coach whose background is on offense for the first time in more than 20 years. They signed the best available offensive free-agent weapon this month. They have a quarterback who showed great promise as a rookie entering his second season.

Could the 2019 Jets offense actually be explosive?

It is hard to fathom after watching the terrible offenses of the past few years, but with Adam Gase now running the show, Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and Sam Darnold entering his second season, there is hope.

“I don’t know,” Gase said at the owners meetings here this week when asked about how good the offense can be. “We need to have a meeting first so everybody can know what our offense actually is. It’s so hard to predict. We’ve got to go through … I’ll let you know in September or October. We just need to get started.

“We’re talking about all these things and in my head I’m going, ‘Can we just go practice right now?’ because I’m curious, too. I like the guys we’ve got on our roster. I’m excited to work with Sam. I’m excited to see Le’Veon Bell and Quincy [Enunwa] and Robby [Anderson] and Chris [Herndon]. There’s a lot of guys. I’m excited to get going.”

…..Gase is excited about the potential matchup issues Bell and Crowder can create along with receivers Anderson and Enunwa and tight end Herndon.“It’s another guy to worry about, really,” Gase said of Bell’s receiving ability. “It’s kind of a man-zone thing. If you want to play man-to-man, that means Bell has either a back or a safety on him. That’s a good matchup. If you want to go zone, now Crowder is going to have inside leverage with a guy playing soft in the nickel. Now he’s able to work his thing. That gives him freedom on a lot of option routes where he can break out, break in, he can go down the middle, run deeper corner routes. That’s where the ball starts going. You start getting those zone coverages, those middle-field open zones. The ball is probably going to Herndon or Crowder probably.”

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2019 NFL Draft Order
*Asterik next to teams that might draft QBs
Rnd. Pick # NFL team
1 1 Arizona Cardinals *     
1 2 San Francisco 49ers     
1 3 New York Jets     
1 4 Oakland Raiders *   
1 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers*     
1 6 New York Giants  *   
1 7 Jacksonville Jaguars *     
1 8 Detroit Lions     
1 9 Buffalo Bills     
1 10 Denver Broncos *     
1 11 Cincinnati Bengals *     
1 12 Green Bay Packers *     
1 13 Miami Dolphins *     
1 14 Atlanta Falcons     
1 15 Washington Redskins *     
1 16 Carolina Panthers     
1 17 Cleveland Browns     
1 18 Minnesota Vikings     
1 19 Tennessee Titans     
1 20 Pittsburgh Steelers     
1 21 Seattle Seahawks *     
1 22 Baltimore Ravens     
1 23 Houston Texans     
1 24 Oakland Raiders    from Chicago [R1 - 1]
1 25 Philadelphia Eagles     
1 26 Indianapolis Colts     
1 27 Oakland Raiders    from Dallas [R1 - 2]
1 28 Los Angeles Chargers *     
1 29 Kansas City Chiefs     
1 30 Green Bay Packers  from New Orleans [R1 - 3]
1 31 Los Angeles Rams     
1 32 New England Patriots*

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Jets Free Agent Signings: The Good, Bad & Ugly!

It is an amazing time in the sports world with tons happening. The NCAA basketball playoffs are in full swing,baseball is a few days away, an SAT cheating scandal involving the rich and famous sprinkled in with some NCAA coaches is in the news and of course the NFL free agent period. With all the money the Jets had, I would have pursued or prioritized a different game plan. The Jets started off making a splash and as the signing period went on, more and more players bypassed the Jets for other teams. Did Mike Maccagnan save his job? Maybe. Did the Jets give Sam Darnold the protection they wanted? I don’t think so. Let’s look at their picks and see how it helps or hinders the upcoming 2019 Jet season. 

The Good
C.J. Mosley, linebacker
This is a four-time Pro Bowl player who will bring effort and attitude to Gregg Williams’ defense. Don’t let his five-year, $85 million contract that includes $51 million in guarantees scare you Jet fans. He is still only 26-years old and is the type of player who will put on a uniform tonight and is ready to play. He has only missed 3 games in the last five years and will make other players around him better. This number one draft pick (17th overall) from Alabama finished the season as the Baltimore Ravens leading tackler with 105 combined tackles. In fact in his 5 years in the NFL in 77 games, Mosley has 579 tackles and assists which averages out to 7 1/2 per game. For an interior linebacker who does not sack the QB a lot, these numbers are stunning. A real good pick though the Jets probably over paid.

Jamison Crowder, wide receiver
At the time I would have preferred Adam Humphries but Crowder is a good one. He missed some games last year with injuries but with the QB situation in Washington in 2018, it may have been a blessing. He is a slot receiver who had 67 receptions in 2016 and 66 in 2017. He has 14 career TDs in 4 season and returns punts and can return kickoffs which may be a reason the Jets let last year’s All-Pro Andre Roberts walk. Jamison Crowder is a very good route runner with deceptive speed who should do well in Adam Gase’s offense with Sam Darnold. Another good pick.

Josh Bellamy, wide receiver
Here is a player who will not knock your socks off with gaudy statistics. What this 30-year old un-drafted free agent from Louisville is, is the consummate professional. He excels as a Special Teams player and can do a good job as a wide receiver. Adam Gase knew him from his days with the Chicago Bears and thinks very highly of him. His best year catching the ball was in 2017 when he had 24 receptions for 376 yards. This is a player who was very popular in Chicago and will be a positive influence with the younger players. A good pick.

Trevor Siemian, QB
Always liked him. Let’s face it after Sam Darnold went down those 4 games, it was obvious Josh McCown cannot play quarterback anymore. He was awful. Trevor Siemian is no Johnny Unitas but this Northwestern grad can spin it. This 26-year old has started 24 NFL games and has thrown 30 TDs and 24 INTs. He is more than serviceable and I only wish his contract was for more than 1 year.

                              T-Ball Skills & Drills

The Bad
Le'Veon Bell
In a Wild Card playoff game a few years ago when the Adam Gase Dolphins lost to the Steelers 30-12, it was Le'Veon Bell who ripped through the Fish all day rushing for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. I know I am in the minority here but I really don’t like this signing. Le'Veon Bell seems to me like Odell Beckham Junior 2.0. I want players who love football and that is their first priority. Minutes before it was reported his signing with the Jets Le'Veon Bell released his rap album "Life's A Gamble" at midnight. I hope I am wrong but looking ahead, even after taking a year off, this guy may be a diva out of control. The good news is with a locker room of Jamal Adams, Avery Williamson, and CJ Mosley, the Jets have a chance to get production out of Bell. Make no mistake Le'Veon Bell is one of the most talented athletes you will ever see but I want to win. And I want Le'Veon Bell want to win also.

Year Games Started Rushing  Receiving   TDS     
2013        13                  860         399           8
2014        16                1,361        854          11
2015         6                   556         136           3
2016        12                1,268         616          9
2017        15                1,291         655        11
2018            Did not play

Brian Poole, CB 
Don’t understand the thinking here. Poole had a good rookie year but has slipped the last two seasons. I’m holding my nose saying this but it might have been just as good to keep Buster Skrine. Look for Poole to play the same role as a nickel corner. Let’s hope Gregg Williams will get more out of him than the Falcons did. 

The Ugly
Anthony Barr, Linebacker
I’m an old school type of guy that still thinks a man’s word is his bond. This is the second year in a row (Kirk Cousins last year) a Minnesota Viking used the Jets to get more money and in this case, Anthony Barr went back on his word and lied to the Jets. I hope he has a horrible (injury free) season. By the way, Adam Humphires signed with the Titans after giving his word even when BB and the "dark side" offered him more money (alot more) to come to New England. Good job Adam!

Other Transactions
Kelechi Osemele, LG 
The Jets swapped late-round picks with Oakland to land the former Pro Bowler with two non-guaranteed years left on his contract before the start of free agency. This is a good low risk move. And no, Osemele is not another Ryan Clady. By all accounts he has dropped weight and is ready to play. This guy is a mauler. 

Chandler Catanzaro, Kicker
I know Jason Myers had an all pro year. But remember the Jets picked him up off the waiver wire. To me kickers are like baseball relief pitchers. It was not worth bring Myers back at those numbers- four year, $15.45 million. 

Henry Anderson, DE
There were some questions if Anderson was made for Gregg Williams defense. His 7 sacks were all meaningful and his PFF (Pro Football Focus) ranking was above average. If the Jets draft a solid DL, both Henry Anderson and Leonard Williams will benefit.

Darryl Roberts, CB
Thank god Gregg Williams and his staff have watched all the game films. Roberts played well and the three-year, $18 million deal is only guaranteed for one year. He was rated (by PFF) as playing above average and he will get better with the new coaching staff.

Steve McClendon, NT
Would they have signed McClendon (a former teammate of Bell’s) if the Jets didn’t sign Le'Veon Bell? Nevertheless, Steve McClendon is a great locker room leader who despite his play slipping last year should be effective providing 18-25 defensive snaps per game.  

                            Marty Schupak's just released book from Amazon

I’m very upset that the Jets missed out on signing center Mitch Morse who the Bills signed. He signed a 4 year, $44,500,000 contract including a $11,000,000 signing bonus, $26,175,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $11,125,000. Mike Maccagnan should have been more aggressive chasing this 26 year old from Missouri. The Jets could have potentially locked up the center position for the next 8-10 years. A shame! 

I would also have signed guard Rodger Saffold. He signed for a lot and despite his age (31), with Scaffold, Morse and Osemele up front, this would have had the making of a great offensive line. But the Jets went in a different direction spending the money on Bell. I hope this works! 

Jets Might Dip Into AAF For Center
J.C. Hassenauer plays center for the Birmingham Iron. Hassenauer graded as the league's best offensive lineman and didn't allow a quarterback pressure during the opening weekend, according to Pro Football Focus. He only started three games for Alabama so he should see steady improvement with extra reps. The 6'3", 305-pound blocker spent half of the 2018 campaign on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. He also has experience playing guard. Go get this guy Mac!

NFL News And Rumors
…..Rob Gronkowski announces his retirement.  "Rob Gronkowski is going out on top. The New England Patriots tight end announced on Sunday that he is retiring. After making the biggest play of Super Bowl LIII to help the New England Patriots win another championship, Gronkowski is calling it a career…..The Pittsburgh Steelers and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are holding contract extension talks, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network…..The Pittsburgh Steelers are armed with lots of draft picks and sound ready to use them. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said Sunday that the team could either take ten players, or would be happy to entertain trading up using those picks as ammo…..Even though there are mouths to feed, Jeremy Maclin is finished with football. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin announced his retirement today — while at his wife’s baby shower…..Quarterback Tom Brady was not present for much of the New England Patriots’ voluntary offseason program last year, and it appears the six-time Super Bowl champion is planning to take the same approach in 2019….With Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing multiple criminal charges, thousands of people around the country are now asking Proctor and Gamble to pull the Gillette name off of the Patriots' stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts….Tickets to the highly-anticipated preseason game at Aloha Stadium between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys are sold out, stadium officials announced Friday morning. The Cowboys-Rams game on Aug. 17 will be the first preseason NFL game in Hawaii since 1976…..

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jets Pass Rushing Options Dwindling!

Fans and scribes that thought the Jet rebuild with 100+ million dollars available would be as easy as Supermarket Sweepstakes running up and down the grocery store aisle throwing items in the shopping cart were very much mistaken. In fact just looking at recent free agent signings such as Trumaine Johnson and Isaiah Crowell makes one wonder if it is a curse having that much money available. It also makes one wonder if the Patriots figuring long term do it the right way. They let free agents get signed by other teams and accumulate compensatory picks. Going into the draft next month they have 12 draft choices. As of this writing the Cowboys have tagged DeMarcus Lawrence, the Chiefs have tagged Dee “offsides” Ford, the Texans tagged Jadeveon Clowney and the Seahawks tagged DE Frank Clark (13 sacks in ’18). Pass rushers are a hot commodity in today’s NFL with all the rules geared toward the offense. The top tier free agents  pass rushers with substantial sack totals are hard to sign. But have faith Jet fans. The second tier pass rushers are the players the Jets should seek out. They may have to overpay but it will be worth it. Here is who the Jets should target:

Dante Fowler Jr.,OLB, LA Rams
This 24 years old may be a borderline top tier pass rusher. The Jets did try to acquire him when he was with Jacksonville. The 6’3” outside linebacker is young and he is good! In 47 games played (only started 7) this former 3rd pick of the 2015 draft already has 16 career sacks in 3 seasons and has only begun to touch his potential. He does bring some off the field baggage but Fowler’s type of play would be perfect for Gregg Williams defense. 

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
After the Lions tagged this 29 year old in 2018 he only started 2 games. Matt Patricia has contacted every car manufacturer in Detroit to drive him to the state line. No way he goes back to the Lions. With that said Jet fans may ask, “Why sign a player who is approaching 30 and cannot stay on the field”? I’ll tell you why. This 6’6” 275 defensive end is a monster when he is on the field. In 73 games started in his career, he has 48 sacks with 14 of them coming in 2015. Here is the kicker. I sign him and convince him that the Jets want to extend his career so he will be a 2nd and 3rd down player only. This way the Jets are preserving his ability and stretching it out to 3 or 4 more productive years. His contract should reflect that with incentives.

Preston Smith, DE, Washington Redskins
This 6’5” 265 pound 26 year old has slipped under the radar with big names like Jadeveon Clowney and DeMarcus Lawrence getting most of the “pub” as pass rushers. In only 32 games started, this former 2nd round pick from Mississippi State already has 24 1/2 career sacks. He had 8 sacks in 2017 and slipped to 4 in 2018 but this is another player who will flourish with Gregg Williams.

Za'Darius Smith, DE, Baltimore Ravens
Smith is one of those players we wish the Jets drafted. At 26 years old, the Ravens would be crazy to let this beast walk away in free agency. In 4 years he has 18 1/2 career sacks but this past season was a break out year. Smith had 8 1/2 sacks and get this, 24 quarterback hits which is incredible. If by some miracle the Ravens pass on him, the Jets have got to get him.

Bottom Line
From the above 4 listed, Mike Maccagnan needs to land 2. This year’s draft is rich in pass rushers but with the Jets having so many holes to fill, they should focus on pass rushers and the offensive line in free agency. Picking up Ezekiel Ansah with a short term loaded contract and Preston Smith would be a good realistic plan. Both would be costly but not out of the ball park which is good. 

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Jets Might Want To Pass On Kentucky’s Josh Allen
There is no doubt that Kentucky’s linebacker Josh Allen is one of the quickest college pass rushers you will ever see. Give him credit for coming back to play a 4th year of college football when most players go for the dollar signs. It was a good move as he had 17 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for a loss in his last year in college. He measures 6’ 5”, 260 lbs. and spent his last year in high school going to Montclair High School in New Jersey. All the stars are lined up in the right places for the Jets to draft him (unless Nick Bosa falls into their lap). However, I hate to be the one to pour water on this specimen but I have my doubts. I have spent the last week watching game film of Josh Allen and as impressive as he looks, he has too many deficiencies in my book to make him the 3rd pick of the draft. His outside speed is super human! But in viewing the highlight film(s), I see very little of Allen taking on and shedding blocks, splitting the double team and doing stunts. I like players no matter how quick they are can take on and are not afraid of contact. He is talented but he is starting to look too much like Vernon Gholston to me. I hope I’m wrong but this is the way I see it.

                                                Josh Allen Highlights

What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
It's too soon in the process to know that, but the Jets are guaranteed to get one of the top three defenders (arguably the top three players in the draft) -- defensive end Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or outside linebacker Josh Allen. If quarterback Kyler Murray goes No. 1 overall, the Jets will have a choice of defenders. Quinnen Williams put on a show at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.83 seconds at 303 pounds. As a comparison, Leonard Williams, picked sixth in 2015, clocked a 4.97 at 302 pounds. Bosa didn't burn it up (4.79) in the 40, but his 10-yard split (1.55) was impressive. More than anything, Quinnen Williams and Bosa have excellent college tape. So does Allen, who recorded 17 sacks last season, the most by an SEC player since the NCAA starting officially counting sacks in 2000.

"Oh, yeah, I think I'm the best player in the draft, but I believe that," Allen said before running a solid 4.63. "I think every guy here should believe that, and if a team doesn't believe that, I'll see them during the season."

This could come down to a fascinating decision for Maccagnan: Would he prefer the outside rusher (Allen or Bosa) to fill a need or would he opt for the freakishly gifted tackle (Williams)? That decision could be based on what happens in free agency.
…..The top players will be tagged. One of those, Dee Ford of the Kansas City Chiefs, reportedly is available in a trade, but it makes little sense to give up an asset and take on a huge contract. The Jets should stay away. Frankly, they should proceed with caution in free agency. Unless there's a perfect match, why spend crazy money when they can simply draft a younger and cheaper player to do the same thing? They could double down, a route they appear willing to take. They're showing interest in Dante Fowler Jr. (Los Angeles Rams), Ezekiel Ansah (Detroit Lions) and Preston Smith (Washington Redskins), sources said. The Jets also reportedly have interest in Trey Flowers (New England Patriots).
Ansah (injuries, age) and Fowler (lack of consistency) come with red flags, so I would be hesitant to invest $15 million a year in either of them. Smith is a solid, complementary pass-rusher. Flowers is a very good, three-down player who developed nicely under coach Bill Belichick, so he would be worth a splurge. Pair Flowers with Leonard Williams and, say, Josh Allen, and you can bet the Jets' pass rush would improve significantly.

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Brian Costello, NY Post
With the NFL Scouting Combine over, here are some things I heard in Indianapolis about the Jets with free agency set to begin in a week. Teams can begin to speak to agents on March 11 and players can sign with teams on March 13. Here is some of the rumors going around about the Jets:
Most of the NFL people I spoke to believe the Jets will be aggressive in their pursuit of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. The Jets make sense because they have more than $100 million in salary cap space, a glaring need for a playmaker on offense and a desperate general manager in Mike Maccagnan, who needs to hit a few home runs this offseason.That being said, the people I spoke with seemed to be deducing that the Jets would be in on Bell, not that they were told that by anyone from the Jets. Maccagnan has a reputation for keeping things close to the vest and he has done that with his plans for Bell. Another variable that people seem unsure of is just how robust a market there will be for Bell. There have been no firm reports of teams being interested in signing Bell. Again, there has been speculation that the Colts, Ravens or Texans might be interested, but nothing concrete. If there are not many suitors, the asking price may not be as high as people have expected. A name to keep an eye on if the Jets don’t land Bell is Falcons running back Tevin Coleman. A few people told me that he could wind up with the Jets. One interesting element of that is Coleman and Bell share an agent – Adisa Bakari. It reminds me of last year when Kirk Cousins shared an agent with Josh McCown. Once the Jets were out on Cousins, they quickly pivoted to re-sign McCown. Could that happen this year with Bell and Coleman?…..After listening to chatter in Indy, though, it sounds like the Jets may try to fill their need for an edge rusher in free agency. Most of the top edge rushers will be off the market as teams either sign them long-term or slap the franchise tag on them. Some names to keep an eye on with the Jets are: Dante Fowler of the Rams, Trey Flowers of the Patriots and Ezekiel Ansah of the Lions. There were rumblings of the Jets having interest in them when free agency opens next week…..A few other positions the Jets are looking at are interior offensive linemen and blocking tight ends. The Jets seem to be content with sticking with Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell at tackles. They’d like to upgrade the middle of the line, though. The Rams’ Rodger Saffold is a candidate at left guard. Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse are the top centers on the market. Adam Gase had Paradis for a year in Denver, so that could be a match. The Jets love Chris Herndon at tight end, but feel like they need some help behind him, particularly when it comes to a run-blocker at the position.

Around The NFL
….With all the talk about the Arizona Cardinals wanting to draft Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, one thing had to happen for the rumors to seem real. There had to be a report of the Cardinals engaging in trade talks for last year’s first-round pick, quarterback Josh Rosen. We now have that report, as NFL Network’s Charley Casserly said on the air he spoke with a team who told him the Cardinals are in fact shopping Rosen.…..A report from earlier Tuesday said the Patriots wouldn’t use the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The bigger news comes from Tom Curran of NBC Boston who says the Patriots aren’t expected to use the tag on any player.That means defensive end Trey Flowers, ranked third on PFT’s top-100 free agents, will hit the open market.…..Word on Monday was that the Buccaneers were set to use the franchise tag on left tackle Donovan Smith, but that they’d keep talking about a long-term extension before and after the deadline to get one done. Those talks proved to be fruitful. The Buccaneers announced that they’ve reached agreement on a three-year deal with Smith on Tuesday afternoon. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported and PFT has confirmed that the deal is worth a total of $41.25 million. Of that total, $27 million is fully guaranteed at signing…..The Los Angeles Rams are making a surprise move, reportedly releasing starting linebacker Mark Barron, who is a very good player at his position. Barron was due to make a $3 million roster bonus on March 15, which likely had a lot to do with this decision…..The Broncos are expected to have interest in linebacker C.J. Mosley, according to Troy Renck of Denver7. This week, we learned that the Ravens will not use the franchise tag on Mosley, and the expectation is that he will be an unrestricted free agent later this month. Mosley, 27 in June, is a perennial Pro Bowler and anchored Baltimore’s linebacking corps for several years…..The Kansas City Chiefs have no intention of letting superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill hit the open market and are working on securing him long term. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the team has begun negotiating with Hill on “what’ll be a record-setting deal.”…..The Houston Texans are parting ways with a former first-round defender. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports Houston released corner Kevin Johnson, per a source informed of the decision. The Texans drafted Johnson with the No. 16 overall pick in 2015. Houston confirmed the news later Tuesday. A talented corner, Johnson has struggled to stay healthy the past three seasons. He played just six games in 2016, 12 in 2017 and participated in just one tilt in 2018 before going on injured reserve after multiple concussions. Johnson has started only eight games since his rookie campaign….. 

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