Since the Jets hired Todd Bowles to be their coach, I've been wanting to write in detail about the defensive system he was operating in Arizona and how such a system might translate to the personnel he has at his disposal now that he's in charge of the Jets. However, I was (justifiably, as it turned out) anticipating significant personnel turnover during the offseason, so it would have been pointless to jump into that too soon. Now that the draft is over, we finally have some idea of what the final depth chart might look like and what kind of role all the new players they've added might have.

Although I was already pretty familiar with the Cardinals defense, having reviewed plenty of film over the last few years while covering Yeremiah Bell and Antonio Cromartie for our Expendables series, I've been doing extra research into the personnel groups, formations and individual roles to try and figure out how the pieces might fit. This includes players like Calvin Pryor, Buster Skrine, Leonard Williams and Quinton Coples.

After the jump, I'll be comprehensively breaking these down and trying to figure out what this could mean for the Jets in 2015. I'll also be talking extensively about zoo animals, for some reason.

Todd Bowles: The Mad Zookeeper

It all started with an innocent exchange in the comments section of this very blog. Someone - it may even have been me - came across a quote Bowles had made having just taken over as defensive coordinator in Arizona:

We have to make sure elephants stay elephants and giraffes stay giraffes.

This set the imagination wheels turning. Clearly he's talking about an elephant in the context of the elephant position. The elephant position is a hybrid end/linebacker position (E/L = Elephant, get it?) which is basically the same as the rush linebacker position that Quinton Coples played for Rex Ryan last year. It's the name the Packers give to the position Julius Peppers played for them last season and is also sometimes referred to as the leo position (linebacker/end = L/E = Leo, get it?) including by teams such as Seattle.

So we know what an elephant is - or at least we think we do - but what's a "giraffe" within this context? Well, when considering the main trait that a giraffe brings to the table - length - the answer seemed obvious. The 6'8" Calais Campbell is an integral part of that defense, maybe even the key player, so it seemed obvious that Bowles must value length on his defense and that a player with extra-ordinary length - like the 35.5 inch-armed Muhammad Wilkerson - is viewed as an essential component on the line. Then, clearly, the above quote is about putting each player into the correct role where he can have the most success.

Except...it doesn't actually mean any of that. So, while we were getting ahead of ourselves and assigning anthropomorphic characteristics to a bunch of different animals ("Damon Harrison must be a hippo!") and losing track of where the line between reality and assumption was drawn, it turned out that the whole thing was a red herring.

Bowles had also made some comment about elephants and giraffes when coaching with the Dolphins in 2011, so clearly it's just phraseology he uses to emphasize the difference between the attributes some of his players bring to the table. In that context, all he's talking about here is ensuring his players are disciplined within their roles rather than just taking the attacking mindset too far.

As best I can determine, the positional nomenclature Bowles uses for his defense is similar to what Jets fans would have been used to under Eric Mangini. In a four-linebacker alignment, the strongside outside backer is not a hyena, or a tiger, he's just a SAM. The weakside linebacker isn't an elephant, a leo or even a RUSH, he's just a WILL. The two inside linebackers were both just referred to on team literature as ILB. Clearly one of the two will be the MIKE, and if you're not sure, just listen to the quarterback because these days they tell you who the MIKE is before the snap. The other ILB position, commonly called TED or JACK in some systems, doesn't seem to have a specific name under Bowles, so I guess it's the MIKE-and-NOTMIKE show on the inside.

A few things must be mentioned here before we get completely de-railed. One is that although these will likely be the positions shown on the official depth chart, the Jets won't be completely married to having four linebackers on the field most of the time, as indeed the Cardinals weren't. Also, their defense maintains the same kind of hybrid flexibility as a Rex Ryan defense, so even though the positional terminology has more in common with the Patriots, Steelers or Mangini-era Jets, the flexibility for that player listed at the WILL position to put his hand in the dirt and create a four-man line is still inherent. Finally, as if this wasn't confusing enough already, the WILL position in the Rex Ryan defense is an inside linebacker role (weakside inside linebacker = W.I.L. = WILL, get it?) whereas in this defense, it represents that weakside pass rusher role. Essentially, Demario Davis is staying where he is but the WILL position is changing and moving outside to be occupied by someone else, if that doesn't blow your mind too much.

So, perhaps somewhat disappointingly, Bowles doesn't have time to assign animal-based nicknames to each of his defensive positional roles, instead concerning himself with such minutiae as creative formations and play-calling. However, I actually think it's an effective device for helping to understand how the defense works and what's required from each of the component parts, so there's no reason why we can't use such terms in fan parlance to help us to get our heads round some of the dilemmas the coaching staff face. I'll therefore be revisiting this concept further down.

First though, let's get into the nitty-gritty of who did what for Bowles' defense last season.

Personnel Groups

As is becoming increasingly common these days around the league, the Cardinals weren't actually in their base defense the majority of the time. So, while the media flaps over whether or not the Jets will follow in their footsteps and play a 3-4 defense or try and play more 4-3 to accommodate their defensive line depth, the truth is that the Cardinals were in base less than 40% of the time last season and spent the majority of the rest of the time in sub-packages.

(As an aside, I'm not sure the distinction between 3-4 or 4-3 makes that much difference to the amount of available defensive line reps anyway, but we'll be revisiting that lower down).

You'd therefore assume that the Cardinals spent the majority of the time in nickel. That was indeed the case, although when I charted two games from last season (one from November and one from December) in detail, I found that the personnel used was as follows:

Base Personnel (4 DBs) - 56 plays

Short yardage (3 DBs) - 6 plays

Dime personnel (6 or more DBs) - 69 plays

Nickel personnel (5 DBs) - 0 plays

The reason for this was that rookie safety Deone Bucannon was actually employed as a linebacker in dime packages. Not as a strong safety coming up into the box, but literally as an undersized linebacker alongside the other linebacker (Larry Foote) 4-5 yards off the line and between the tackles.

To an extent, Bowles' hand was forced here by injury, but it did show one way he might employ his personnel if necessary. I don't believe it would have been Bowles' first choice to employ Bucannon in that way, nor do I expect him to employ any defensive backs in that way with the Jets unless he has no other options. Still, it's worth considering. As noted, on these plays, there were typically five other defensive backs in the game.

In terms of the personnel upfront, this can again be misleading. In the two games I charted, which do seem to be representative of the numbers for the whole season, the Cardinals had four defensive linemen in the game on 30 plays, but three or less on 101 plays. This doesn't necessarily mean they played with a four man front on those 30 plays because there were times where linebackers came up and played at defensive end (and, actually, some rare plays where the defensive linemen were standing up). However, the total number of times they played with a four man front was 35, so it wasn't too far off. Basically, they played with a four man front just over 25% of the time.

To dig a little further still, let's consider some case studies from the Cardinals defense over the last two seasons and see if we can apply the findings to current Jets personnel:

Case Study #1 - The Hippo

Let's refer to the nose tackle role here as the HIPPO position. Ideally here, you want somebody heavy, tough to move and that will take up a lot of room. Maybe this does today's brand of athletic nose tackles somewhat of a disservice, but at least it differentiates them from the quicker, one-gap, attacking interior linemen they'd be paired with on the line.

Of particular interest to the Jets is perhaps not how Harrison will fit into the role, because we know he can control two gaps and stuff the run with the best players in the league. Instead, we want to consider whether other players on the Jets roster can also play the same role and also whether there are packages where the HIPPO can come out of the game to be replaced with another player. In other words, is it realistic to expect the Jets to get the likes of Sheldon Richardson, Wilkerson and Leonard Williams on the field together and, if not, how many reps will there be to go around?

Let's make our starting point the Cardinals defense from 2013 and 2014. Their starting nose tackle, or HIPPO, was Dan Williams. Williams, a 327-pound former first round pick, is a little smaller than Harrison but basically plays the same role.

In 2013, he was backed up by Alameda Ta'amu, a similarly built player, but in 2014 he played most of the time without a direct backup as he played more snaps himself to make up for this. In each year, the total number of reps allocated to this role was less than 50% of the total snaps.

As you'd expect, Williams lined up directly opposite the center, sometimes shading to one side or the other. However, in one of the two games I charted, he only did this just over half of the time and instead played extensive reps across from the right guard, even shading him to the outside at times. In the other game he just had one series where he lined up opposite a guard and a couple of plays where he lined up in the "A" gap. (The gap between the guard and center).

These are all things Harrison could handle, although perhaps they could align the rotations so that he could be two-gapping most of the time and that another lineman could enter the game in those situations where they would try to exploit a mismatch on a guard. The difference between Williams' role in those two games is an interesting insight into how Bowles' gameplan may differ from week-to-week in an effort to exploit mismatches or nuances in the other team's protection schemes. This is made all the more interesting by the fact that both games were against the same opponent (Seattle). Against a more pass-happy team like the Packers or Saints, maybe the gameplan would need to be tweaked, perhaps so that the HIPPO wasn't required as much. I'd consider the Seahawks to be at one extreme in terms of their offense being geared towards running rather than passing.

So, we gave consideration above to whether the HIPPO would come out of the game in certain packages. While you'd obviously expect that player to leave the game on passing downs, the Cardinals did run plenty of base packages without Williams, so they provide an insight into what packages the Jets might opt to run without Harrison in the game and how these might help them to get their defensive line talent all on the field at once.

We've already (sort of) established that Wilkerson is a GIRAFFE. Let's assume he'll play that role full time and that it corresponds to what Campbell would do in the Cardinals defense. Like Wilkerson, Campell will line up outside and match up with a tackle at times and also will play on the interior (sometimes at nose) on passing downs, so it seems like a role that's tailor made for Wilkerson to fill.

Let's refer to the other interior lineman role as the RHINO position. This is pretty self-explanatory in terms of having a player who will be explosive and charge into the backfield to make plays. I think that explains Sheldon Richardson's capabilities adequately. While we can also acknowledge that Wilkerson and Richardson each have the length and explosiveness to be interchangeable between these two roles, it might leave you wondering where rookie Leonard Williams - who, if he's all he's cracked up to be should also be able to perform well in either role - fits in.

Here's an excellent article from Chase Stuart of Football Perspective that makes many of the basic points I wanted to cover here. He reaches the conclusion that a three-man rotation would probably be the best approach for 2015, while agreeing with my earlier contention (which I still intend to revisit below) that switching to 4-3 doesn't really solve anything.

So, three defensive linemen rotating into two spots. That can work, right? Where have I seen that before? The first team that sprung to mind was Atlanta, who have operated a three-man rotation for their defensive tackles in recent years. When they faced the Jets in 2013, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux shared reps at the two interior line positions with Jerry and Babineaux also getting reps at defensive end. The next team I thought of was Miami. For the past few years, they've been a 4-3 team with three defensive tackles splitting reps (Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai/Earl Mitchell). Again, there are times when all three would get in the game at once.

Miami, in particular, is an especially relevant comparison because the Jets' new defensive coordinator - Kacy Rodgers - was their defensive line coach. While we're looking at this through a Todd Bowles paradigm, the role of Rodgers shouldn't be overlooked. As they've coached together, Bowles and Rodgers presumably have common ideas about defensive concepts and approaches, but that doesn't mean Rodgers won't bring his own influence to the fore. In an effort to get their best players on the field, Miami ran about five plays per game on average last year where all three defensive tackles were on the field along with both starting defensive ends. So they did have some packages with five defensive linemen, albeit that one of the ends would often be required to stand up and maybe drop into coverage and that Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon would be outside linebackers on team with a 3-4 base.

For what it's worth, the Falcons had two coaches on their staff who are now on the Jets staff (Mark Collins and Joe Danna) and while these two are coaching linebackers and defensive backs, again they likely share many of Bowles' coaching principles.

So, how would the rotation work? Campbell played 990 snaps in 2013 and 800 snaps in 2014, whereas Wilkerson played over 1,000 snaps in 2013 but only 739 in 2014 (although he missed time through injury and was also ejected from one game). Assuming Wilkerson will remain with the Jets throughout 2015 at least, the team will likely want to see those snaps counts stabilize somewhat, especially after he was banged-up towards the end of last year. Since the rookie Williams brings many of the same things to the table, we can readily assume that he will be able to consume the remainder of these reps backing up Wilkerson, as long as he stays healthy and lives up to his potential.

Returning to Richardson and the RHINO role, here's another place where the rookie can take all the reps that Richardson doesn't. Richardson played over 900 snaps as a rookie, but this dropped to 835 last year. I'd imagine the Jets would prefer to play him less than that to keep him fresh throughout the season. While Richardson didn't miss any time last year, he too was banged up in December.

Within the Cardinals defense, that RHINO role was primarily played by Tommy Kelly last year and Darnell Dockett before him in 2013. Let's focus on Kelly in particular. He is a player whom Pro Football Focus identified as the protypical 3-technique tackle in 2011. That's a role where you'd be matched up with a guard. With the HIPPO over the center and the GIRAFFE opposite one of the tackles, that means the ELEPHANT (whether or not they have their hand in the dirt) would be outside the other tackle, giving you an effective four man front whereby the personnel (with Coples as the ELEPHANT) would essentially be the same as the Jets' starting unit last year.

(Remember, these terms have been invented by us solely for the purposes of this article the real names for these positions would be HIPPO = Nose Tackle, RHINO = Defensive Tackle, GIRAFFE = Defensive End and ELEPHANT = WILL/OLB.)

That leaves Williams on the bench, unless there's an injury or he can unexpectedly unseat one of the quality veterans ahead of him. Still, he'll be getting plenty of reps in a three man rotation. Can they get him on the field more though? What would the Jets do when removing their HIPPO from the game?

Most of the time, when the nose came out of the game for Bowles, it was simply a passing down, so you'd typically see the other two defensive linemen remain in the game and an extra defensive back enter, while they brought up a linebacker to come off the edge. I suppose it's possible that they could opt to run some pass rush packages whereby Wilkerson or Richardson comes off the edge with Coples off the other edge and the rookie Williams completing the four man front. Wilkerson lined up on the edge of a four man line or outside the tackle in a three man line almost 300 times last year, so he is capable of lining up outside a tackle. Richardson himself did this almost 200 times and it was also something Williams did at times in college.

This four man package looks alluring on paper, but I wouldn't necessarily expect it to be a primary pass rush package for Bowles. I think it's just as likely that you would use Calvin Pace (or his heir apparent) off the edge on the strong side because they have the ability to drop into coverage. Also, you might prefer to have more of a speed edge rusher - someone like IK Enemkpali, if he can make the team, coming off the edge on the weakside, perhaps moving Coples and/or Wilkerson inside.

There were also plenty of base packages where Dan Williams would come out of the game for the Cardinals though and these might provide a better idea of how the Jets could scheme to get the rookie on the field with Wilkerson and Richardson. Ordinarily, the Cardinals would operate with two of their three linemen playing the 3-technique and the other one lined up outside. As we established above, the Jets could line up their GIRAFFE outside the tackle and this would enable them to have a balanced line with two RHINOS on the interior. You might not need anyone to two-gap in this look, as you could exploit the speed of your linemen to shoot gaps, although you might have to employ an inside linebacker to take on a lead blocker, Bart Scott-style. Again, Coples would presumably fill the ELEPHANT role across from the GIRAFFE and it wouldn't matter whether or not his hand was in the dirt.

Kelly, at times, also played the nose tackle position in this personnel grouping, which would involve another rotational lineman (usually Frostee Rucker) entering the game. While you wouldn't want to limit the production of a guy like Richardson or Wilkerson by playing them at nose tackle all the time, Bowles' use of Kelly in this role rather than using an actual backup nose would suggest he might be prepared to roll with Wilkerson or Richardson there in limited doses.

Case Study #2 - The Badger

One of the most interesting players Todd Bowles has had at his disposal over the past two years is Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu, a diminutive and controversial return man and slot cornerback who was effectively employed as the team's starting safety.

As I've written about before, the media usually associates run-stopping ability with strong safeties and coverage skills with free safeties, but actually that's an over-simplification that can cause confusion. In his rookie year, which coincided with Bowles' first year as Arizona's defensive coordinator in 2013, Mathieu was paired with ex-Jet Yeremiah Bell. While you'd assume the ageing Bell was employed in the box and the converted cornerback Mathieu would use his coverage skills to play deep, the opposite was true in the Cardinals' base packages.

Mathieu would primarily match up with someone in the slot, making use of those slot coverage skills and playing aggressive press coverage at the line. This meant Bell had to play deep. In many respects, Bowles was eschewing the traditional two cornerback, two safety alignment in his defensive backfield and instead playing with three corners and one safety.

In subpackages, Mathieu would remain in the slot, while Bell would come up into the box and Rashad Johnson would enter the game to play as a deep safety.

When the Jets acquired Marcus Gilchrist, the eponymous BADGER role seemed like it was ideal for him to assume within Bowles' defense. Gilchrist is also a converted cornerback, who has played in the slot and typically matched with slot receivers in both base and sub-packages for the Chargers in 2014. Eric Weddle played deep in the base defense and Jahleel Addae entered the game to play deep in the subpackages with Weddle coming up into the box.

Gilchrist's role in 2013 was actually to play as more of a conventional deep safety most of the time, though; a role he handled well. This affords the Jets some useful flexibility.

Mathieu's role in 2014 was also slightly different as he was coming off an injury. This time, he only played in subpackages (which, remember, is still more than half of the time). Tony Jefferson was the safety in the base packages with Johnson and they mostly played one out and one in, with some level of interchangeability. Again, Bowles' hand was forced here to some extent, but it illustrates how they might work around any unplanned absences.

That brings us to last year's top pick Calvin Pryor, who excitedly announced he was moving to strong safety in 2015 and would be playing more in the box. This differed from my original sense that Pryor would play a similar role to Bell or Weddle, which would involve him playing deep on running downs but coming into the box in sub-packages.

Pryor has yet to establish himself as capable of playing that BADGER role because he hasn't seen significant work (or any success) when matched up with slot receivers. That would mean that if Gilchrist was the deep safety, you'd either have Pryor in an uncomfortable role in the slot or you'd have to move a linebacker over to cover any slot receiver.

Last week, Bowles clarified the situation by saying that actually Pryor would be required to cover deep at certain times. That makes sense because it would enable Gilchrist to cover the slot if the Jets had base personnel on the field.

The next question becomes what happens on passing downs when the Jets have their sub-package on the field. If Gilchrist was going to play the BADGER role, then the Jets would need someone to take over that deep safety role. While the Jets have a few options - Jaiquawn Jarrett, Rontez Miles or new UDFA pickup Durell Eskridge - that could step up and earn that role, none of them will keep offensive coordinators up at night. However, the Jets do have depth at the cornerback position, so it actually makes a lot more sense to use those players (the likes of Buster Skrine and maybe Dee Milliner or Dexter McDougle) in the slot and leave Gilchrist in the deep safety role they know he can handle.

This opens up one other possibility. If Skrine plays well and/or Pryor does not, would the Jets use Skrine as their BADGER in the base defense and let Gilchrist play deep? Gilchrist could then remain deep and Pryor could re-enter the game to play in the box in sub-packages.

As we know from Antonio Cromartie's comments prior to rejoining the Jets, Bowles' system requires the corners to play plenty of cover-zero or "on an island" coverages and clearly they've made every effort to equip themselves to do just that.

Case Study #3 - The Chameleon

As discussed briefly above, the Cardinals employed defensive back Deone Bucannon as an extra linebacker at times last year. While that was primarily because of injuries, it has led to some people wondering whether this would be a role Pryor could play that would enable him to make an impact in the box. My sense is that this would be a poor idea because it would place limitations on Pryor's range, which is one of his better attributes. Also, placing him into an unfamiliar sideline to sideline role might be an adjustment that causes issues for a player who already takes questionable angles at times.

Of course, this kind of look is something that Bowles could re-visit (not necessarily with Pryor as hisCHAMELEON) against certain teams, but I wouldn't expect to see it on a regular basis.

As you'll recall, the Cardinals lost Daryl Washington for the year to a suspension, having already lost Karlos Dansby to free agency. Those two played the majority of the reps as inside linebackers in 2013 and I'd expect David Harris and Demario Davis to do the same for Bowles, as they did in the past for Ryan. In the end, Bowles still helped get the Cardinals to the postseason, which is a credit to the job he did. The ageing Larry Foote was installed as an every-down linebacker and, while he did his best, Jets fans can reasonably expect Harris to emulate his performance and hopefully surpass it. When Bucannon wasn't on the field, Foote was usually paired with another youngster, Kevin Minter, but sometimes he was the only inside linebacker out there.

Conclusions

I haven't discussed every defensive player in the context of Bowles' Cardinals defense here, but I hope I've covered the main ones over whose roles there might be uncertainty. In terms of the rookies, I'll be discussing them in a lot more detail over the next few months anyway.

During the offseason, it seems like the Jets front office has done a good job of not only filling out their roster so that they are equipped to carry out each of the most important defensive roles required within Bowles' system but also in terms of adding depth and flexibility so that they can overcome any injuries or unexpected dips in individual performance.

As Cromartie says, there are plenty of similarities between the Cardinals' scheme and that of the Jets and the transition should be pretty seamless. However, Bowles has brought some creative wrinkles and different approaches to the table, each of which will produce opportunities for players to step up and make an impact.


Now that the draft is out of the way, we'll be bringing you a detailed look at all the draft picks, undrafted free agent signings and the two veterans acquired via trade over the next couple of months as we head into camp. However, before we get into that, I'll be back soon with a breakdown of the Jets offense and how the players acquired since the end of last season might fit into Chan Gailey's system.

Tags: bentdouble, BGA, Bent Double
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Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Le'Veon Bell's future with the Jets remains as uncertain as it was at the end of last season, when GM Joe Douglas said he'd listen if teams called about his star running back. A trade remains "unlikely" according to a source familiar with the Jets' plans, but they'd consider it for the right offer.

It's just complicated because of Bell's contract. And it all depends on how eager the Jets are to get rid of Bell -- if they're even eager at all.

It's the contract that makes it "unlikely," though. Bell, who turned 28 on Tuesday, is entering the second year of a four-year, $52.5 million contract that includes $13 million in guarantees for 2020, which would be the responsibility of his new team. The Jets would almost certainly have to eat some of that money, as they did when they traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Giants for a third- and fifth-round pick back in October.

Tags: Le'Veon Bell, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) reacts after his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) reacts after his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets still haven't full closed the door on moving running back Le'Veon Bell before next season, but it could cost them to do so. 

According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Monday, the Jets have never been fully closed off to the idea of potentially trading Bell. Bell's name was tossed around in the rumor mill during the 2019 NFL trade deadline, but the Jets never pulled the trigger on any deal. 

The latest report says things are status quo. 

Tags: Le'Veon Bell
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As he continues to pursue his dream of playing in MLB, Mets minor league prospect and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow addressed the media on Sunday afternoon, and made some positive comments on the two young quarterbacks playing in New York.

When asked if he was "yay or nay" on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, Tebow laughed at the question and then gave an encouraging answer on the No. 6 overall pick in last year's draft.

"I think he's got a lot of talent," Tebow said on Jones. "I think he was coached really well in college. I think he will continue to improve. I think continuing to get him more weapons and confidence is pretty critical."

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Nov 17, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets tight end Daniel Brown (87) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Nov 17, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets tight end Daniel Brown (87) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

The Jets have signed tight end Daniel Brown to a one-year contract extension, the team announced on Thursday.

Brown made seven receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (five starts) for the Jets in 2019. He also finished third on the team in special teams tackles with 11.

Brown, 27, was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of James Madison in 2015. He played eight games for the Ravens from 2015 to 2016 before getting claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears on Oct. 24, 2016.

In 34 career games with the Bears from 2016 to 2018, Brown made 29 receptions for 253 yards and one touchdown.

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Nov 25, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa RedBlacks defensive back Anthony Cioffi (24) tries to catch Calgary Stampeders wide receiver Chris Matthews (81) during the 106th Grey Cup game at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports (Perry Nelson)
Nov 25, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa RedBlacks defensive back Anthony Cioffi (24) tries to catch Calgary Stampeders wide receiver Chris Matthews (81) during the 106th Grey Cup game at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports (Perry Nelson)

The Jets have added some secondary help, signing a former local product in safety Anthony Cioffi, the team announced on Thursday. 

The Springfield, NJ native was a four-year standout at Rutgers where he totaled 169 tackles, eight interceptions and 13 passes defended over 41 games. 

After graduating in 2016, Cioffi spent time in training camp with the Raiders in 2017. However, he would move on to the CFL, where he has been since 2018. He had a breakout year with the Ottawa Redblacks, tallying 61 defensive tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble over 18 games. 

The Jets don't need safety help with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye manning those positions. However, with the injuries the secondary as a whole endured last season, depth from a versatile player like Cioffi who can roam around is valuable. 

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 (Ron Chenoy)
(Ron Chenoy)

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and while he seems to be content with that for now, it's fair to wonder if he could be a fit in New York.

"I wouldn't mind being in Detroit for a while," Golladay told USA Today's Doug Farrar. "Everything should work itself out. I'm enjoying myself."

Originally a third-round pick of the Lions in 2017, Golladay has been tremendous with Detroit. surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in two of his three pro seasons. In 2019, he caught 65 passes for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns, proving to be one of the league's best young wide receivers. He's also proven to be a big-play threat, as his 18.3 yards per reception ranked second in the NFL. 

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Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)
Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)

The Jets made an addition to Adam Gase's coaching staff on Tuesday, hiring Leigh Torrence as the team's assistant defensive backs coach. 

Torrence has been a member of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff for the last four seasons. He was hired as coaching intern in 2016 and was then promoted to a defensive assistant the following season.

The 38-year-old Torrence made the transition to coaching after spending spending parts of seven seasons with five different teams as a player. After going undrafted out of Stanford, Torrence had his most significant playing time with the Saints from 2008-11, where he was a member of the Super Bowl LIV championship team.

In New York, Torrence will work with Jets passing came coordinator/defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, and he'll be taking over for Steve Jackson, who was hired by Cincinnati as the Bengals cornerbacks coach.

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The NFL season officially came to a close last Sunday, as the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the San Francisco 49ers to bring capture the Lombardi Trophy.

So that's it for football until training camp opens in July, right?

"Not so fast," says the XFL.

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Aug 22, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL former player Michael Strahan is seen before a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Aug 22, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL former player Michael Strahan is seen before a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

More than 18 years after Michael Strahan broke Mark Gastineau's single-season sack record, the former Jets pass-rusher wants the world to know that he thinks the record should still belong to him.  

"I just want to be recognized for the record," Gastineau told ESPN on Monday. "You wouldn't want your son getting a record like that. I don't think it's good for the NFL. It was never good for the NFL, and I'm surprised the NFL didn't step in."

Strahan's sack in question came against the Packers during the final game of the 2001 season. Sitting at 21.5 sacks, Strahan needed just one to break Gastineau's record. With the Packers up 34-25 late in the game, Strahan blew past Packers tight end Bubba Franks and had a free shot at Favre, who went down to give Strahan the single-season record.

 

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 (Seth Wenig)
(Seth Wenig)

Things didn't go according to plan for Chris Herndon in 2019. 

The Jets tight end was suspended four games for violating the NFL's PED policy, missed another four games with a hamstring injury, then fractured his ribs only 16 snaps into his season debut, ending his season. 

Without Herndon, Ryan Griffin stepped up.

Tags: Chris Herndon
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Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive line coach Pepper Johnson gives direction as New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles looks on in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports (William Hauser)
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive line coach Pepper Johnson gives direction as New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles looks on in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports (William Hauser)

Pepper Johnson, was has been affiliated with both the Giants and Jets in his football career, was abruptly fired from his XFL gig only hours removed from the league's beginning over the weekend. 

Johnson, 55, was employed by the Los Angeles Wildcats as their defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. The team announced he was relieved of his duties on Monday.

The Wildcats had lost their inaugural game, 31-17, to the Houston Roughnecks, a game which featured winning quarterback PJ Walker tossing four touchdown passes. 

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Nov 24, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is listed at 100-1 to win the NFL MVP in 2020, according to BetOnline.ag.

Darnold played in Week 1 in 2019, but missed the next three games recovering from mononucleosis. He returned in Week 6 and played the rest of the season, finishing the year with a 7-6 record at quarterback. He threw for 3024 yards and a 61.9% completion percentage, along with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Darnold is joined at 100-1 by Giants running back Saquon Barkley, former Giants wide reciever Odell Beckham Jr., former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and others. 

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)
Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)

Pro Football Focus named New York Jets safety Jamal Adams to their list of the top-101 players from the 2019 season recently. 

Between both New York football teams, the Jets and Giants, only Adams was selected for the list produced by the football analytics outlet. 

Adams slotted in at the No. 32 overall spot. 

Tags: Jamal Adams
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 (Tim Fuller)
(Tim Fuller)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Free agency hasn't worked out well for the Jets. They spent a lot of money under former GM Mike Maccagnan and very few of those contracts have turned out to be worth the money. Some of them, in fact, now look like the worst deals the Jets have ever made.

So it's with that knowledge and a sense of great caution that the Jets head into their first offseason under new GM Joe Douglas. He's armed with about $50 million in salary cap space to spend, and likely a lot more coming when he's finished with his cuts. And he will spend, because he has to on a team filled with far too many holes.

Tags: Brian Winters, Le'Veon Bell, Sam Darnold, Trumaine Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Brett Davis)
(Brett Davis)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets will head into the first free-agent signing period under new GM Joe Douglas with a ton of money to spend for the third straight year. This time they'll start with at least $50 million, and probably a whole lot more.

The question, though, is whether he'll spend it any better - or smarter - than former GM Mike Maccagnan did.

That remains to be seen, of course, but Douglas will have to begin this offseason erasing some of Maccagnan's mistakes. There are plenty of players on the roster with huge salaries who aren't exactly living up to the numbers. Douglas will have the opportunity to clear a few of them out.

Tags: Avery Williamson, Brian Winters, Quincy Enunwa, Steven McLendon, Trumaine Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)
Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)

The 2019 Giants season ended up being a start of a rebuild, and as often happens in such cases, the team underwhelmed in the win column. In their own right, the Jets weren't rebuilding and had higher hopes heading into last season, but didn't have the year their fans had hoped for, either. 

Despite both teams hitting their unders in 2019, the two are trending in opposite directions in the eyes of oddsmakers early in the 2020 offseason. 

The Giants, entering 2019 with a win total of six and missing that with four wins, see their over/ under increase to 6.5, according to OddsShark. 

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Sep 8, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) celebrates with New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports  (Noah K. Murray)
Sep 8, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) celebrates with New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Le'Veon Bell's Jets tenure has been rocky, with head coach Adam Gase seemingly unhappy from the get-go with how much they spent to sign him and GM Joe Douglas refusing to rule out a trade.

But Bell, who is entering the second year of a four-year deal worth $52.5 million, seems confident he's staying put.

"Jets for four more years unless something drastic changes," Bell told TMZ Sports. "We'll see."

Tags: Le'Veon Bell, Danny Abriano
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Jan 1, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) makes a catch against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Jan 1, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) makes a catch against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

While the Jets could use some help in the trenches at the 2020 NFL Draft, but Pro Football Focus says one offensive playmaker is simply too good to pass up. 

The football analytics outlet has Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy falling all the way to the No. 11 pick, and the Jets scoop him up. 

The upcoming class of wideouts has long said to be a talented and deep group, but the Jets are still able to make Jeudy the first one off the board.

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Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase coaches against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase coaches against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2019 season in the history book after the Chiefs' win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, the Giants and the Jets have some of the most salary cap to make their moves before next season. 

According to Spotrac, the Giants and Jets are both in the top 10 in terms of NFL teams with the most salary cap space heading into the offseason. 

The Jets round out the top 10, while the Giants slide in at No. 6. 

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Joe Douglas
Joe Douglas

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There are still nearly three months to go until the NFL Draft, and teams are a long ways away from having their draft meetings and finalizing their boards. It's too early to know anything, really, especially with the scouting combine still three weeks away.

But it's never too early to take a look, so here's a projection of how the first 11 picks of the draft will go, including the picks for the Giants (at 4) and Jets (at 11). Their needs are easy to figure out, even if it's still too difficult to zero in on the players:

1. Cincinnati Bengals - LSU QB Joe Burrow

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Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs
Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs

Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Jets GM Joe Douglas has a plethora of options to work with at No. 11 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, and that's mainly because there are holes left and right on his current roster. But one of, if not the, biggest hole to fill is on the offensive line.

It was a rough 2019 season for that Jets unit, which had Sam Darnold running for his life, and Le'Veon Bell left without many holes to run through. The Jets tried a bunch of different variations with the players they had, but nothing they did had positive results.

More help is definitely needed, and it could be coming in the form of Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs

Tags: Brandon Shell, Kelvin Beachum, Scott Thompson
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Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

With the Chiefs beating the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, the 2019-20 NFL season officially came to a close. And with the season over, it's time to look ahead to the 2020-21 season and Super Bowl LV, taking place on Feb. 7, 2021 in Tampa.

The Chiefs are the favorites to repeat, with the Ravens and 49ers right behind them.

As far as the Jets -- who finished the season 7-9 with a late surge -- their odds are not great.

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Before they entered the league as top-10 picks in the 2017 NFL draft at sixth and 10th, respectively, Jets safety Jamal Adams and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes first crossed paths while playing Texas high school football.

So when Kansas City won 31-20 over the San Francisco 49ers for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Adams took to Twitter and congratulated Mahomes with an angle on the past.

Separated by an approximate two-hour car drive roughly 130 miles or so apart with Adams at Carrollton (Texas) Hebron and Mahomes in Whitehouse High School, Adams and Mahomes came up along similar paths, which gave the Jets safety a glimpse into what the Chiefs quarterback was capable of.

Tags: Jamal Adams
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Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles during his press conference following their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles during his press conference following their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had fans sitting on the edge of their seat when he tweeted a cryptic photo on Thursday of Super Bowl week.

Some thought Brady could be announcing his retirement during the big game, but it looks like Brady was just teasing an ad he would be featured in for the Super Bowl.

"To my teammates, my family, and most of all, my fans, you deserve to hear this from me," Brady said. "Hulu doesn't just have live sports... so it's time to say goodbye to TV as you know it. But me? I'm not going anywhere."

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Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Tom Brady made fans wonder what his plans are for the future, after teasing a Super Bowl commercial on Twitter.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport mentioned that it is a real possibility that Brady could return to New England.

Sources say that the Patriots are willing to pay Brady in excess of $30 million per year to keep him, according to Rapoport.

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Demarcus Robinson
Demarcus Robinson

Super Bowl LIV is finally here, as the Chiefs and 49ers square off at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday night to see who will hoist the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy at the end of the night. 

Both squads have their stars. Patrick Mahomes leads a stacked offense that includes Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce as his weapons. But they're going to have to face off against Richard ShermanNick Bosa and the rest of the NFL's No. 2 defense. And, of course, you can't sleep on Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and the rest of that Niners offense that ran all over the Packers two weeks ago. 

But, for Jets fans, it's a chance to keep your eye on a few players that are set to enter free agency once this game is over. 

Tags: Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Trumaine Johnson, Scott Thompson
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Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) watches an official review during the second quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) watches an official review during the second quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

On Thursday of Super Bowl week, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tweeted out a cryptic picture, making some around the league believe that he could be calling it a career.

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Aug 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)
Aug 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)

Jets running back Bilal Powell recently joined WFAN's Joe and Evan show, where he discussed the future of his NFL career.

The nine-year veteran has spent his entire career as a Jet, and he hopes to keep things that way for the rest of his time in the league.

"I just stay in my lane," said Powell. "I sit back and let things happen and unfold. I want to retire a Jet, that's the biggest thing for me."

Tags: Bilal Powell
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Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Brandon Copeland (51) celebrates after a sack with New York Jets cornerback Arthur Maulet (23) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Dec 22, 2019; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Brandon Copeland (51) celebrates after a sack with New York Jets cornerback Arthur Maulet (23) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

On Thursday, Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland was named the 2020 Alan Page Community Award winner by the NFLPA.

The NFL gives out this award each season to the player who does the most for the community.

Copeland was previously named the Week 16 NFLPA Community MVP after hosting holiday shopping sprees for more than 300 underprivileged kids. He received help from 11 other NFL players, surprising each kid with a $200 gift card through his Beyond The Basics foundation.

Tags: Brandon Copeland
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Three months after the Jets seriously considered trading Jamal Adams and angered him along the way, it looks like the two sides have rebuilt the bridge between them. A new contract could even be coming soon.

The 24-year old Adams said as much on Wednesday when speaking to reporters in Miami, site of Super Bowl LIV. He said his agent and the Jets have had preliminary discussions and added, "I'd be lying if I said I don't expect to be extended." He did say, though, that the talks have included "no numbers yet," though they've surely discussed some parameters.

The numbers, of course, are everything if the Jets and Adams are going to strike a deal.

Tags: Jamal Adams, Ralph Vacchiano
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