Unacceptable Contracts: 2nd tier contracts that need to change in the offseason

We’ve all heard about the big name players who are likely to be cut in the 2014 offseason. Names like Mark Sanchez, Julius Peppers, and Chris Johnson are being thrown around as foregone conclusions to find new, cheaper homes in 2014. I want to outline some of the players that are cheaper, but are likely to change their contracts in the offseason

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David Harris, New York Jets:

The Jets veteran inside linebacker is scheduled to make $7,000,000 in 2014. As he approaches the waning years of his career, it is difficult to imagine that the Jets will pay top-dollar for Harris going forward.

With a dead money number of only $2,000,000, Harris is an excellent candidate for a contract extension that will keep him in New York while lowering his annual cap hit.

120113_fletcher_600Patrick Chung and Bradley Fletcher
Philadelphia Eagles:

These two members of the Eagles secondary left much to be desired after joining the team during the 2013 offseason.

The safety and cornerback pair combine for a total of zero dead money, meaning that the Eagles could let them fly the coop in the offseason without incurring any cap penalties.

With a promising young defensive line and Chip Kelly turning heads with his unique personality and coaching style, it certainly seems like they should kill these two birds with one stone.

JON-BALDWINJonathan Baldwin, Forty Niners:

Baldwin was acquired by the Forty Niners in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver AJ Jenkins. The hope that a change of scenery would benefit the young receiver proved fruitless as Baldwin ended the 2013 season with 3 catches for 28 yards.

With a career total of 44 receptions, it’s clear that Baldwin isn’t worth the $1,404,765 San Francisco would be paying him. Lucky for his Bay-Area bosses, none of that money is guaranteed. Look for Baldwin to hit the unemployment line in 2014 as the Forty Niners once again try to find a receiver who will be productive coming out of the draft.

Asante-Samuel2Asante Samuel, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons veteran cornerback was a key player in one of the league’s worst defenses in 2013, and it’s clear that the Falcons are going to need a full rebuild on that side of the ball.

The former Patriot and Eagle is 33 years old and his contract for the 2014 season would be $5,250,000. The Falcons can cut Samuel and only pay him $750,000 of that. It may be time for the Superbowl-winning ball hawk to hang up his cleats.

The NFL offseason can be an unpredictable time NFL fans, but these team-friendly cuts would be a good start to building up cap space to sign rookies and make moves in free agency.

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The Forgotten Superstar: Don Maynard

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Jets wide receiver Don Maynard is not often mentioned in conversations about superstar wide receivers. Amidst modern giants like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens, Maynard’s 24th in all-time receiving yards, 11th in receiving touchdowns, and 54th in receptions seem almost pedestrian. Maynard however, was statistically the greatest receiver in NFL history when he retired.

When Don Maynard retired from professional football in 1973, he held the records for careers receptions, receiving yards, and followed only Don Hutson is career receiving touchdowns. Maynard was the cornerstone of Joe Namath’s Jets offense that set records vastly ahead of it’s time and led to a victory in Superbowl 3.

The most mind-boggling accolade in Maynard’s record-breaking career was that he had been retired for five years when the 1978 NFL season introduced rule changes that paved the way for Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, and the passing offenses of the modern NFL.

A hall-of-famer, AFL All-star, Jets Ring of Honor member, and first player in NFL history to have 10,000 yards receiving, Maynard deserves to be remembered as a precedent for the NFL we know today and one of the most important players to ever catch a pass.

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Developing Consistency while Developing a Quarterback

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In a May article from turnonthejets.com, Joe Caporoso claimed that one of the biggest mistakes the Jets made with quarterback Mark Sanchez was not keeping his environment consistent. For years people have called out organizations for changing offensive coordinators during the development of young quarterbacks. Alex Smith and Sam Bradford spent the early years of their promising careers learning system after system and never finding consistent success.

So if it’s so clear that consistency is a key component to the development and sustained success for a young quarterback coming into the “win now” NFL, why doesn’t that start from the moment they step foot on the practice field?

In 2012, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck with the first overall pick of the draft. It was clear to everyone involved that the Colts were betting their future on the neck-bearded Stanford quarterback, but what they did next is far too unique. With the 34th overall pick, the Colts drafted Stanford tight end and Luck’s favorite target, Coby Fleener.

I think that in the future of an NFL where quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton have set an expectation as immediate starters, teams should be following the Colts’ lead and adding a layer of comfort to a quarterback’s rookie season by drafting his favorite receiver along with him.

In 2013, the Jets drafted Geno Smith in the second round, and in the third round (20 picks after the Jets selected guard Brian Winters) Smith’s best friend and fellow West Virginia Mountaineer Stedman Bailey was taken by the St. Louis Rams. I can’t help but wonder what that level of comfort and trust could’ve brought to a depleted receiver corps in Smith’s rookie season.

It’s never been a secret that head coaches in the NFL don’t get the opportunity to draft more than one franchise quarterback, and franchise quarterbacks are few and far between. Allowing existing relationships to grow in the next level like Luck and Fleener’s has a positive upside for both players and the team that drafts them, so it should be the norm in the NFL.

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If Browns general manager Mike Lombardi is as dead-set on drafting Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel as reports are suggesting that he is, maybe he should consider trying to use his other powerful draft picks to make a run at Manziel’s counterpart, wide receiver Mike Evans.

In a game of uncertainties, you can always expect a quarterback-receiver relationship that was already successful to continue to be successful, and that shouldn’t extend to just players that are already in the league.

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13-10 Loss to the New England Patriots – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Overview:

I waited until this afternoon to write this update, because I knew that my seething rage would’ve colored it and that wouldn’t be a very objective or effective piece. 

It was very clear coming into this season that the Jets were making a conscious effort to get back to the roots of our AFC championship games. We were going to play mistake free, run the ball, and let the defense keep us in games. We followed that game plan effectively for about 50 minutes against a good team Thursday. If Marty can lean more on Ivory and Powell who looked excellent and the defense keeps playing lights out, we could win a lot of football games.

 

The Good:

The defensive front 3: 

It was clear coming out of last season that Muhammad Wilkerson is the unsung star of the Jets defense. The rotation of “Big Snacks” and Ellis in the middle with rookie Sheldon Richardson on the other side was a dominant force that has held two formative running games to less than 3 yards per carry in a row. Rex seems to have a point when he says that these lineman eating, green-clad monsters could be successful together for 10 years. 

The Geno:

I’ve been inspired by the admittedly confusing Calvin and Johnson Nike commercials, and I’ll be splitting my analysis of Geno Smith into two sections: The Geno and the Smith.

For all but the last 3 possessions of the game, Geno looked like he was going to do exactly what the Jets needed. He extended plays with his feet, he threw the ball away instead of forcing it, and he made some excellent mid-range throws (including one that hit Clyde Gates in the chest and was dropped).

If Geno can continue you to play like he did in most of his drives against Tampa and New England, he may be the quarterback to solve the Jets problems.

The no-namers:

There were some rotational players that came up big in a Rex Ryan defense that’s more complicated than Tom Brady’s range of emotions. Darrin Walls, Antonio Allen, and Demario Davis all made plays, Davis showing once again that he is a speedy, physical specimen that was sorely needed on in an aging linebacker corps.

The Bad:

Blitz pickup:

The protection for Geno still wasn’t there against free rushers, but Vlad Ducasse who generally would find himself somewhere between “the bad” and the “please god, release this player” did a good job of handling all-pro defensive tackle Vince WIlfork. 

I didn’t expect the blitz pickup to improve much in a short week, but I think that it will be addressed before heading into a game in Metlife against a crafty Buffalo defense.

Wide Receivers:

Santonio Holmes can’t do it all, and he can’t do most of it until he’s fully healthy. With Jeremy Kerley out, Clyde Gates had an opportunity to prove himself in the slot, but instead he looked like he belonged on the Patriots with the amount of catch-able balls he dropped.

 The lone bright spot was Stephen Hill, who managed to look like a productive target for more than one week in a row. If Hill can continue to improve his catching and make jump-ball plays like he did last night, he’s going to be a favorite target of Geno’s.

The Ugly:

The Smith: 

I won’t put all of the blame on Geno for failing to come up big for the win in the fourth quarter, but an under thrown deep ball and a late crossing route both led to interception that should’ve been placed better. If Smith wants to keep his job, he’s going to have to put together a consistent 60 minutes. Next week against an ailing Bills defense should provide ample opportunity.

Special Teams:

I can’t count how many times last night on defense and special teams that I found myself shouting, “Julian Edelman is the only person who can catch, can we please cover him!” 

The shifty returner’s seeming inability to get less than 10 yards on every punt was not the ugliest part of our special teams however. Our punt coverage was lacking on the few plays when Kyle Wilson went pack to receiver. With Kerley out I understand the drop in production, but there were several plays when Wilson could have easily turned up field for 15+ yards, but he chose to call a fair-catch or fall on his face.

 

Summing it All Up:

This was an ugly loss, but we knew going in it was going to be ugly. We learned a lot about the Jets this week and I think we’ve proven that we have a core of players that can compete for the next several years. I’m personally still on team Geno, and I think if he can get Kerley back, he’ll be able to string together some wins.

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How the New York Jets can beat the New England Patriots Tomorrow

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Let’s take a look at this week’s Thursday Night Football Matchup

Tom Brady and The Low-Octane Patriots Offense

Only a year removed from leading one of the most productive offensive seasons in NFL history, Patriots faithful are nervous with their Hall of Fame quarterback’s rhythm with his new receiving corps. The lone bright spots on the Patriots offense in their ugly win over the Bills on Sunday were Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola. Vereen was one of 2 running backs to rush for 100 yards, and Amendola made some clutch plays to convert important third downs.

Going into the Thursday Night matchup, Amendola is out with a groin injury and Vereen is out with a broken bone in his hand.

Why the Jets Defense will have a great day

We’ve established that Tom Brady will be on an island with plenty of time to throw, but no one to throw to. The Patriots are rife with inexperienced receivers and the Jets are so deep at corner that people in dimly-lit coffee houses are writing poetry about them. The three former first-round picks starting at corner for the Jets should make Brady’s job very difficult, but that’s not the story of the game.

The Patriots will have to rely on running back Stevan Ridley to produce on offense, but Jets showed against the Buccaneers on Sunday that their run defense is for real. Mohammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson led a defensive front that held Doug Martin to just 2.7 yards per carry.

How the Jets offense will make enough plays to pull out the win

The Patriots base package pass rush from big Vince and their outside linebackers look impressive. However, the Jets showed against the Buccaneers that they can hold their own against a straight forward pass rusher. Blitz pickup was the lone weakness, so the Pats will have to commit additional rushers to beat the o-line and hope that Geno doesn’t make more plays with his legs.

The Patriots secondary will be enough to remove Holmes from the game, but Geno has showed that he can get the ball to his other targets and test the strength of the defense without putting the ball in dangerous position.

If Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell can get the game going, the offense should be able to create enough points for the defense to hold onto a win.

Tune in this Thursday and look for the Jets to make a real shot at stealing one from the Pats early. I think if Geno leads this game and comes out with a W, the starting job is his and his alone.

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