If the New York Jets haven’t established that they will aggressively pursue the players they covet most by now, then you haven’t been watching closely enough.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually been fire as far as the Jets have been concerned.
With inquiries into Plaxico Burress hitting the news wires and rumors of a trade for Braylon Edwards floating around, it’s clear that the Jets aren’t willing to leave their passing game to chance.
Finding a receiver may be a priority for most fans, but Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum is willing to see what David Clowney and Brad Smith can do before making another offseason splash.
But if neither receiver establishes himself as a quality starter, fans should know that Tannenbaum will not hesitate to acquire talent from elsewhere. With Terrell Owens and Randy Moss claiming residence in the AFC East, New York will need a dynamic receiver who will level the playing field.
That could mean kicking over some rocks that would have been completely ignored by the previous regime.
How Would They Look in Green?
No Coke, Then a Smile — Matt Jones Fights for Redemption in New York
After being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars following drug-related incidents, Matt Jones failed to generate any interest in the offseason. And understandably so.
With the NFL taking a hard stance on off-field infractions, most teams are afraid of the risk Jones poses to their organization with bad press. But desperation could inspire leniency.
When reports surfaced regarding the Jets inquiries into Adam “Pacman” Jones, one thing became clear: New York ain’t scared.
At 6’6″, Jones is the tall receiver New York could utilize in the red zone. With four years in the NFL under his belt, he has shown more promise as a quarterback-turned-receiver than Brad Smith ever has with the Jets.
While Jones never established himself as an elite player, it would be in the Jets’ best interest to carefully evaluate his risk and reward factors. Signing him to a one-year, veteran minimum contract is probably a more generous offer than he’ll receive elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the gamble wouldn’t end with the evaluation of his personality. There’s likely a four-game suspension in his future that could be contributing to the hesitation for his services.
More Cameras Than He Can Smile At; Braylon Edwards to New York
When he’s at his best, Braylon Edwards is a top receiver in the NFL.
He commands a double team and can score 16 times in a season. At his worst, he leads the NFL in drops and becomes a liability rather than a sure-handed receiver.
Which No. 17 would the Jets be getting if they managed a deal for him?
If the Jets believe he’s worth the gamble, then finding the right compensation to free him from Cleveland becomes the problem. New York may have fleeced the Browns in the NFL Draft, but the chances of lightning striking twice this offseason are slim.
Cleveland has stockpiled receivers this offseason, but they still place a high price tag on Edwards. The Jets may not have enough ammunition to entice Mangini without mortgaging future draft picks, or offering up a key defensive player.
The New York Giants did back down after the Browns requested Mathias Kiwanuka and their first round pick for Edwards.
After the trade compensation is determined, the battle is only half finished. The Jets would have work out a new contract with Edwards, since the root of his unhappiness stems from his desire for a more lucrative commitment.
Then they have to make sure he’s more committed to football and not modeling opportunities.
Too Late to Reconcile, Anquan Boldin Flies the Coop
Reports from Arizona have been conflicting. Prior to the draft, Ken Whisenhunt told reporters that they would listen to offers for the disgruntled Anquan Boldin.
More recent reports say the Cardinals rejected two offers.
If the Jets can break through the Cardinals’ defenses and agree to compensation for Boldin, the new issue revolves around meeting his financial requirements. Much like Edwards, Boldin wants a new contract, and he wants a big one.
With Larry Fitzgerald’s contract paying him an average of $10 million a year, Boldin expects something comparable. Drew Rosenhaus has said Boldin could be re-signed for less, but how much less is unknown.
Despite the contract demands, Boldin wouldn’t be the best fit in New York anyway. He’s only played two full seasons in his career and is a similar receiver to Jerricho Cotchery, in style and build.
There’s no doubt that Boldin is an elite receiver. But he’d be an expensive addition to a Jets’ team that promises to run first.
Only a Flesh Wound — Plaxico Burress Moves Down the Hall
Jerricho Cotchery and Alan Faneca, two well-respected Jets veterans, have said they would welcome Burress to the team on the merit of what he brings to the field alone.
The significance of those sentiments should not be overlooked.
Cotchery became the Jets new No. 1 receiver after Laveranues Coles forced his release, but he respects the dynamics of Burress’ game enough to put the team before his well-deserved promotion.
Knowing what Burress brings to the field, the attention he demands every time he lines up, and his ability to be a trustworthy receiver, the Jets understand what he could mean for the offense and Mark Sanchez.
If celebrity justice (read: slap on the wrist) allows Burress to avoid prison, then a move to the other football locker room in the Meadowlands shouldn’t surprise anyone.
If the Jets Decide to Do Nothing
While the focus rests upon finding a traditional wide receiver to complement Jerricho Cotchery, the answer could rest with the untraditional player the Jets already have on the roster.
Despite being listed as a tight end, Dustin Keller established himself as a certifiable threat in the passing game with his versatility.
He emerged as one of Brett Favre’s favorite targets as a rookie, taking advantage of the mismatch he constantly presents.
There are no defenders who stack up favorably against Keller.
Keller exploited the soft spots in zone coverages at all distances. He was a big target in underneath routes, and he was able to slip past the secondary to get down field. He’s swift, fast, and a reliable target.
If utilized more effectively in 2009, Keller has the potential to become the centerpiece of the offensive passing game.