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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. 

                                                        T-Ball Skills & Drills

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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