Last night, the Jets and Rams completed a trade which sent disappointing and overpaid right tackle Wayne Hunter to the Rams for the arguably even more disappointing and overpaid right tackle Jason Smith.

Having reviewed several Rams games already this offseason for the Expendables series, Smith had been a guy who stood out as having had some struggles. Maybe a closer inspection of the film will reveal some promise, but we’ll get to that in due course. For the time being, I’ve been scratching my head over this one.

After the jump, I’ll be looking at salary cap issues associated with the move, weighing up some of the practical considerations that may have gone into the Jets’ though process in making this deal and providing detailed analysis of how Smith has played in the preseason, along with some numbers and analysis from his three years in the league so far.

Salary Cap Issues

Based on the information available about Smith’s contract (mostly from Brian McIntyre), we can determine the following about the two years remaining on the restructured monster contract he signed when he was drafted by the Rams with the second pick:

- His salary for 2012 is $4m, which is fully guaranteed

- He also has potential incentives of $1m based on playing time, wins and playoff success

- If he earns any of these incentives, they will count against the 2013 cap

- His contract will void if he plays over 31% of the snaps in 2012

- If his contract voids, the Jets could get a 2014 compensatory pick if anyone else signs him

- If his contract doesn’t void, he is set to earn $12m in 2013

- None of the money in 2013 is guaranteed, so he can be released with no cap implications

- His deal could also be restructured at that point

Since Wayne Hunter was due to earn $2.45m the Jets used up $1.55m of net 2012 cap room by making this move. The Jets also save $4m in 2013 and $3m in 2014, which have to be accounted for in their future cap charges, even though it was unlikely Hunter was ever going to earn these non-guaranteed sums. At the same time, this means we need to account for Smith’s $12m in next year’s cap calculation, although there’s no chance of him earning this. Ultimately, the Jets are $8m further over the 2013 cap than they already were, although their actual cap flexibility beyond 2013 is pretty much unaffected, other than the fact they have $1.55m less to potentially carry over. It might mean that more media members fall into the trap of believing the Jets are in cap hell, but they still should have the flexibility to keep the core together and retain flexibility.

Some questions arise. For example, some will be asking if using up this $1.55m leaves them with enough cap room to sign any other players. The Jets still have over $4m of cap room, but bear in mind that when you sign a player, you will also be removing another player from the roster. So, if you sign a guy for the minimum and remove a player from the roster who is also earning the minimum, then the cap cost is nothing. Minimum salaries do increase as players get older, but even if the Jets replaced an undrafted rookie with an older veteran, the net cap cost would only be a couple of hundred thousand dollars at most.

Also, the Jets have been pretty lucky with not having too many people land on injured reserve (which can eat into your cap room) so far this season, so perhaps they budgeted for a couple of million to cover them against that eventuality and now feel comfortable enough to spend that money and stay within budget.

Another question is why does Smith’s contract get voided when he reaches a certain playing time threshold? It looks like it’s been negotiated so that Smith had a chance to hit free agency in 2013, which would obviously give him all the leverage to get a contract extension from the Rams before the end of the 2012 season. If an injury had prevented him from reaching that threshold, then the fact his 2013 cap number is high would give him added protection and leverage. Obviously the expectation was that he’d be an elite player at that point of his career. Instead he’s been a disappointment and has already negotiated his salary down from $10m this year – receiving the guarantee in return.

Naturally, this means it is an effective contract year for Smith, which might have been one of the reasons the Jets made the deal.

Unless Smith proves to be an upgrade over Hunter, the deal doesn’t really make any sense from a contract perspective. One possible upside is that they could potentially get a compensatory pick in 2014 if Smith’s contract voids and then he gets picked up by another team (as suggested by Jason from NYJetsCap.com), but that wouldn’t be enough to justify making the deal.

What is clear is that Hunter’s confidence was so shot that his days with the Jets were numbered. Obviously the vitriol from the fans has been too much for him to take and the decision to allow him to remain on the team and collect a guaranteed salary for 2012 has come back to bite them. There were more than just financial considerations that went into that decision – principally a concern over how the locker room would react to him being cut or forced to reduce his pay and a desire to look like they do the right thing by their players, but also an assessment of the lack of potential replacements available. All those reasons made sense at the time and they obviously weren’t expecting things to go south so dramatically, but the end result is that that money was a sunk cost, because he was on his way out.

Had they cut Hunter, they’d be on the hook for all of his $2.45m anyway, so the net cost of finding a replacement, even if they got a minimum salary guy, wouldn’t have been far short of the $4m they are going to be paying Smith. Could they have found a replacement for less than the $1.55m they ultimately lose out on? Some people had been suggesting that Gosder Cherilus could be a possible trade option, but he earns $2.3m, so if they cut Hunter and signed Cherilus, the Jets would be almost $1m worse off and down a draft pick or player. Cherilus wasn’t particularly good in 2011, but played well in 2010, so the Jets would be gambling that he’d see a return to form, which – for a player coming from a zone blocking system – might have taken some time.

When you look at it like this, the financial/asset risk behind getting Smith instead perhaps makes more sense. EDIT: It's subsequently been revealed that the Rams paid Smith a pre-trade bonus so that his salary for the year is exactly the same as what Hunter was set to earn, so a lot of the above analysis is now redundant. Ultimately the Jets are $1.55m better off than previously thought. It’s going to come down to what Smith can provide the Jets, though, so let’s start to think about that.

Who is Jason Smith?

When the Rams drafted Smith with the second pick of the 2009 draft, he was expected to become one of the league’s elite tackles. Three seasons into his career, he has been limited to 29 games by concussions, although he is understood to be healthy at the moment. This has obviously slowed his progress. Obviously he’s been a disappointment as the second pick, but his numbers when he has played are not too bad. The bigger issue is how much he’s reportedly struggling at the moment.

As a rookie, he played just three full games and half of four others but otherwise looked pretty promising. 2010 was his only full season and he played every snap. This season was blighted by inconsistency as he had a few really good games but more really bad ones. Although he graded out well below average he wasn’t right near the bottom of the league like Hunter was last year. In 2011, he lasted just five and a half games and was struggling. However, his last couple of performances were positive and he did only give up two sacks and two QB hits. So, on the basis of his three years in the league, he has been below average, but not one of the league’s worst tackles – which should make him an upgrade over Hunter…right?

Unfortunately, his return to the field this year has not been encouraging. Barry Richardson – a tackle who graded out considerably worse than Hunter last year – has basically won the starting job by default because Smith has been performing so poorly in camp. That’s not a good sign and Smith hasn’t been getting good reviews for his play.

I spoke to an analyst (Khaled Elsayed) from ProFootballFocus to see if he had any thoughts on the move. He said that Smith did look pretty good when he was a rookie, so he does have talent. It was more mental issues that seemed to affect his play and you never knew whether he’d have a good game or a bad game from week to week. He said that was the opposite of Wayne Hunter, who would string together some bad performances, then seem to find himself and start playing reasonably well for several weeks in a row, before losing it again and finding himself back in a rut.

This leads you to wonder whether it is effort that is holding Smith back. Rams fans are reportedly less than impressed with his attitude and he has a reputation for not wanting to learn new things. However, Khaled made the point that the Rams didn’t exactly help him by constantly changing his position from left tackle to right tackle and back again. He also notes that a lot of linemen have gone to St. Louis in recent years and got worse, so maybe the Jets have some confidence they can tap into some of his potential better than the Rams were able to.

Another factor is that Smith comes to the Jets who have plenty of other good players on their line, whereas the whole line was struggling when Smith was with the Rams. So, the line wasn’t blocking well as a unit and the chances of him getting any help were perhaps slim. Khaled suggests that the Jets probably expect Austin Howard to falter at some point, so while paying a $4m salary to a swing tackle seems excessive, they probably expect him to be starting eventually.

I’d also note that Smith’s struggles this preseason can perhaps be tempered by the fact that he is playing in a brand new scheme with an offensive coordinator (our old friend Brian Schottenheimer) whose system is notoriously difficult to pick up. That’s perhaps not the best thing for a player who apparently was already making mental mistakes. These mental errors and the fact that he suffered from changing positions remind me of Vladimir Ducasse’s struggles so far and Ducasse is responding really well to Sparano’s more straightforward scheme. That being the case, perhaps Smith is a better fit than we realized.

2012 Preseason

So, let’s look at Jason Smith’s three appearances so far this preseason. Remember, he hasn’t received positive reviews for these displays, but perhaps we’ve rationalized some of the possible reasons for this above. We might even see some positive signs. Mostly, I’ll be looking for differences between Smith and Hunter, as well as any obvious weaknesses in his game.

Week One – Indianapolis

Smith entered the game late in the first quarter. He didn’t look too bad in run blocking early on, although he did allow the DE to spin away from this block on the edge and assist on a tackle in the backfield. He bounced back from that to pull to the outside and make a good block to set up a nine yard run over the right side. His worst moment saw his man (Jerry Hughes) blow by him completely untouched for an easy sack on third down in the red zone. Hughes almost jumped offsides and this might have factored into how slowly Smith got into his stance. On the last series, Smith moved his feet well as he tried to make a reach block going to the left, but ended up knocked onto his back because he lost his balance. He was also beaten easily by an outside speed rush, but the pass rusher took too wide of an angle and the quarterback was able to get off a quick throw.

On the whole, Smith didn’t look too bad in this one, although the sack was particularly embarrassing. He definitely performed better than Richardson, who got destroyed on a couple of plays. You can see the athleticism and technically he doesn’t look as bad as advertised – definitely more polished than Howard. His footwork seems pretty good and he was able to counter some pass rushing moves well. I would note that – despite the fact Brian Schottenheimer is not renowned for doing so – he did get some help in the form of double teams and chip blocks.

Week Two – Kansas City

The offense didn’t look as good with the second unit in, but that wasn’t necessarily Smith’s fault. He had a couple of minor issues in the running game - a missed cut block, letting his man get off his block to get in on the tackle – but overall didn’t do too badly. They ran behind him for a short touchdown and he held his block well on another touchdown run. His worst moment saw another old friend, Ropati Pitoitua, beat him cleanly on the inside, although Potty missed the tackle and the runner bounced to the outside and picked up a first down. In pass protection, the nearest he came to giving up a pressure was when he was driven back into the quarterback, who took off and scrambled for a first down. Pressure was also coming from the other side on the play, otherwise he’d have had time to step up and throw.

Once again, Smith didn’t fare too badly in this one, although you might expect him to flash more dominance against backups. They did give him some help on the inside in pass protection, but the fact he didn’t give up any pressure is encouraging.

Week Three – Dallas

One thing I noticed from this game was a play where Smith took his man and drove him well out of the play, but the runner got stuffed in the backfield because someone else screwed up. Something like this happened a handful of times over the course of the three games. This is where you can start to wonder whether pairing him with some more talented and consistent players could turn that kind of play into a key block that sparks a successful run – or where if he does make a mistake, there might still be room for the runner to get back to the line of scrimmage rather than being swarmed under.

Smith did have some issues in this one. He reacted to an inside move, but then the pass rusher span to the outside and got away from him for what should have been a sack (but he missed the tackle). Also, he was tossed aside by Marcus Spears who stuffed a running play up the middle. His best moment was probably a driving run block, where he initially double teamed a defensive lineman and then drove him to the second level.

Overall Observations

While Smith didn’t play well enough against backups to stand out as someone who should definitely be a starter, at no point in any the three games was he overmatched like Hunter was against the Giants starters. In fact, he was also more consistent and did more positive things than Howard has this preseason.

I noticed the athleticism and strength that made Smith an elite prospect in the first place and he played extremely hard. He finishes his blocks and plays to the whistle, on several occasions doing the sort of thing you’d never normally notice like driving a pass rusher well out of the play once the pass had already been released so he had no chance to chase down the receiver. I did notice he ended up on the floor quite a lot, suggesting his technique wasn’t always perfect and also the concentration lapses he is known for were also apparent.

It’s very difficult to fairly evaluate backups playing against backups when comparing them with starters playing against starters. Richardson had more negative issues than Smith did, for example, but if their roles were reversed, I’m sure Smith would have struggled more and Richardson might have been more dominant. He definitely performed considerably better than Stephon Heyer, Robert Griffin and Hunter did as the second string tackle across from Howard in each of the last three games.

Howard’s confidence is high at the moment and he looks set to start the opener. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith challenging for the starting role, especially if Howard has some struggles. That is practically inevitable with the pass rushers they are facing early on in the year.

Conclusions

I went to bed last night really scratching my head over this move. Normally when you make one of these deals where both players will probably benefit from a change of scenery, you don’t really have anything to lose, but in this case the Jets have surrendered some cap flexibility. Clearly the Jets must feel comfortable with this, but we’ll have to hope it doesn’t come back to bite them. EDIT: As noted above, the Jets didn't surrender any cap flexibility after all and this was a cap-neutral swap of two guys needing a change of scenery.

I was concerned that Smith does not represent any kind of upgrade over Hunter based on the reports of his preseason play, but a look back to his record when he has played suggests he has it in him to be better and a closer look at his performance in preseason suggests he isn’t playing that badly. If he can respond well to a simpler system and benefit from being surrounded by better players in a contract year, then this is a move that could pay off. I’m not sure what the plan is for 2013, but for now, I don’t think the Jets have planned that far ahead.

After Austin Howard’s performance last week, I feel a lot more comfortable about the Jets’ ability to scheme around any perceived weakness at the right tackle position. After reviewing the film, I’m not completely confident in Smith’s ability to live up to his salary, but some of the factors involved in his struggles with the Rams give me a small amount of hope. With any luck, he could provide solid cover for Howard and the Jets will not be in trouble if he ends up starting. Consider me cautiously pessimistic but by no means completely resigned to failure.

Welcome aboard, Jason. Let’s see you earn your salary.

Bonus Link: When the Jets signed Aaron Maybin back in 2011, I scouted him for BGA here and found myself rationalizing the move in much the same way. Go back and read what I wrote at the time because (ignoring the financial side of things) I feel much the same way after reviewing the film on Smith.

Tags: BGA, Editorial Aside, Bent Double

New York Jets inside linebacker Darron Lee (Ron Schwane/AP)
New York Jets inside linebacker Darron Lee (Ron Schwane/AP)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the next few weeks, we're going to break down each position in terms of which players are fighting for those final roster spots. Who is in danger of being cut? Who has a chance to earn themselves a bigger role? We continue with a look at the inside linebacker position.

Probable roster locks

The initial plan for the inside linebacker position is clear: Darron Lee and Avery Williamson will start, barring injury. Beyond that, all bets are off, as everyone else will compete for the backup roles and to be employed as special teams contributors.

Tags: Darron Lee
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Aug 31, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) during second half against Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 31, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) during second half against Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Jets WR Robby Anderson now has both of his legal issues behind him. 

Anderson received six months of "non-reporting probation" stemming from his arrest on reckless driving charges from January, reports Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. The expectation, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, had been that the issue would be resolved before training camp in July. 

While he won't face any more legal ramifications, the incident is still under review by the NFL under their Personal Conduct Policy.

Tags: Robby Anderson
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New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The never-ending rebuilding loop that the Jets always seem to be stuck in finally seems to have an end in sight. And they will have plenty of high hopes for the future when the full team reports for training camp on July 26.

Here is Part 2 of what to look forward to when Jets training camp begins...

The return of Quincy Enunwa and a better-than-you-think receiving corps

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, Leonard Williams, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 12, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Jets wide receiver Chad Hansen (16) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Nov 12, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Jets wide receiver Chad Hansen (16) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Chad Hansen is looking to impact the Jets more in his second season, which is why he linked up with his former college quarterback who had great success in his second year.

Rams QB Jared Goff and Hansen played together at Cal, and they both spent time in Southern California working together in preparation for next year. Goff, who had a shaky rookie season, shined in his second year as he led his team to a NFC West division title. 

Hansen wants the same success as his former teammate in his second season, and he thinks he can do so in any role with the Jets. 

Tags: Chad Hansen, Scott Thompson
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New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire runs with the ball as Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert and outside linebacker James Burgess bring him down during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire runs with the ball as Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert and outside linebacker James Burgess bring him down during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveThe never-ending rebuilding loop that the Jets always seem to be stuck in finally seems to have an end in sight. And they will have plenty of high hopes for the future when the full team reports for training camp on July 26.

Here is Part 1 of what to look forward to when Jets training camp begins, which will be followed by Part 2 on Thursday...

The rise of Sam Darnold

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Buster Skrine, Darron Lee, Elijah McGuire, Jamal Adams, Jordan Leggett, Josh McCown, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold has the eighth-best selling jersey in the NFL, ahead of Patriots QB Tom Brady, who comes in at No. 9.

Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley tops the list, which was released by the DICK's Sporting Goods Jersey Report.

Tags: Saquon Barkley
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Nov 12, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) tries to get out of the grasp of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)
Nov 12, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) tries to get out of the grasp of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)

Over the course of the offseason, the Jets have brought in a dizzying number of players. In addition to their six draft picks and several undrafted free agents, the Jets have acquired 24 veterans since the league year began. Let's attempt to rank each of those additions in terms of their importance for the upcoming season.

24. PK Nick Rose - Rose was brought in as competition at the placekicker position but was replaced four weeks later before he even got a chance to practice with the team.

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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the next few weeks, we're going to break down each position in terms of which players are fighting for those final roster spots. Who is in danger of being cut? Who has a chance to earn themselves a bigger role? We start with a look at the running back position.

Probable roster locks

Anything is possible, but the expectation heading to camp is that Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell will assume the top two spots. Powell is the incumbent veteran and a Todd Bowles favorite, so he's certainly expected to at least begin camp as the No. 1.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire
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Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills attempts to make the tackle at FedEx Field. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills attempts to make the tackle at FedEx Field. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets and Redskins will have joint practices from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14 ahead of their preseason game on Aug. 16, and Washington's defense seems to be ready to go after current Jet wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown called out Pryor, who signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with New York after one year with the Redskins, by saying other members of Washington's defense "have it out for him."

"That's going to be something right there," Brown said on "Inside the Locker Room" on Team 980, according to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now ... [head coach] Jay [Gruden] ain't here to protect you anymore."

Tags: Washington Redskins
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Jamal Adams (center) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jamal Adams (center) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Jets S Jamal Adams has never liked to lose, and his father -- former NFL RB George Adams -- gave the perfect anecdote to explain why. 

"As a G.A. Giant, we didnt' lose," George told The Post's Steve Serby as he referenced Jamal's Pop Warner days. "I gave the ball to J., he got the first down, and they came out and measured and then they said, 'No, no, no. We gotta remeasure.' So they didn't give us a first down, so they got the ball and they scored and we lost.

"He cried like a baby. So what I told him, I said, 'That's life. That's football. You're gonna get some people to say one thing and it's another, but the thing is, I'm teaching you how to lose.' And that really just didn't set with him, because he just don't like losing."

Tags: Jamal Adams, Scott Thompson
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Sep 10, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) (Geoff Burke)
Sep 10, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) (Geoff Burke)

This offseason, the Jets signed QB Teddy Bridgewater, drafted QB Sam Darnold and re-signed QB Josh McCown. Regardless of who gets to be the starting quarterback, they're going to need someone to throw to. 

WR Terrelle Pryor, who signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in March, certainly believes he can be that guy, after having 'minor' ankle surgery recently.

"Right now I'm healthy and I'm ready to get back to form and have a dominant year," Pryor said...

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General overall view of MetLife Stadium Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
General overall view of MetLife Stadium Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Former Jets TE Kellen Winslow Jr., who was just arrested for suspicion of burglary last week, has even bigger problems with the law in his latest arrest. 

Winslow was arrested on Thursday and faces two counts of forcible rap, two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of forcible oral copulation, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He also faces charges of kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, residential burglary and indecent exposure. 

It is unknown whether or not Winslow's arrest last Thursday corresponds to this arrest...

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New York Jets cornerback Derrick Jones runs a drill during organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets cornerback Derrick Jones runs a drill during organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the next few weeks, we're going to look back at last year's rookies in an effort to assess what their role will be in 2018 and where we can expect them to make improvements on what they brought to the table last year.

Derrick Jones was considered a bit of a long-term project when the Jets selected him with their final pick in 2017's draft. He's a terrific athletic with excellent size and length, but was considered raw having spent much of his collegiate career as a wide receiver, starting just eight games in total. The Jets carried him on their active roster all year, but he only suited up for three games and didn't get any defensive reps.

Tags: Derrick Jones, Robby Anderson
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Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

A lot will change between mid-June and September 10th, the day of the Jets season opener, but if they were to play that week one game against the Lions tomorrow, Todd Bowles knows who his starting quarterback would be: Josh McCown. 

Bowles also confirmed that Teddy Bridgewater is the current backup, leaving rookie Sam Darnold as the third-string. But all three will have ample time during training camp to change his mind, when "a lot of things count."

"Josh will start come training camp and we will see what happens at the end of training camp," Bowles said after minicamp...

Tags: Josh McCown
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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg works out prior to an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg works out prior to an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Former Jets QB Christian Hackenberg visited the Patriots on Thursday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

The Patriots currently have Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and rookie seventh-round pick Danny Etling. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that the Patriots aren't expected to sign Hackenberg, though he remains an option going forward...

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Elijah McGuire the new LT? 00:01:58
Marc Malusis and Jon Hein discuss Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell saying that Elijah McGuire could be the next LaDainian Tomlinson.

Entering his second season in the league, Elijah McGuire is expected to make an impact on the Jets in 2018.

The running back had 377 rushing yards in 2017 but those within the organization see something more in the 24-year-old-- they see one of the best running backs ever: LaDainian Tomlinson.

"He has the skillset to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity," Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell said...

Tags: Elijah McGuire
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See the Jets in minicamp action 00:00:59
SNY captures the highlights, routes and deep throws at New York Jets minicamp Thursday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets are heaping praise on the shoulders of their prized rookie quarterback, but to them it's more than just dreamy hype. They're not just trying to sell everyone on the promise of Sam Darnold. They believe it. In fact, so far he's been even better than they expected.

That's why he has "a real chance" to be the opening day starter, according to a team source.

The 21-year-old Darnold has been that good since the Jets took him with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. They've been giving him regular first-team reps throughout the spring and through this week's three-day mini-camp. And given how well he's handled them, this summer he can expect even more.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) lines up against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)  (Jack Dempsey/AP)
New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) lines up against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (Jack Dempsey/AP)

If there is one player Jets S Jamal Adams would like to emulate in his career, it would certainly be one of the best to ever play the safety position. 

Former Steelers S Troy Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time First Team All-Pro member, changed how safeties were perceived in the NFL. Polamalu wasn't just a ballhawk as his position was normally asked to do, but he was relentless on the blitz as well as run defense. 

Adams says it was Polamalu's smarts along with his physicality that makes him his role model now that he is in the NFL...

Tags: Jamal Adams
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May 22, 2018; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) runs after a catching the ball during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
May 22, 2018; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) runs after a catching the ball during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

This offseason, Jets WR Robby Anderson has been battling numerous legal issues. He has been arrested twice in nine months, but the Jets have had his back throughout this process. 

That doesn't mean the NFL will. 

Anderson, who has one of his two legal cases still in the works, knows the NFL has the jurisdiction to suspend him for his run-ins with the police...

Tags: Robby Anderson
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Darnold impresses at Jets camp 00:03:04
Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates breaks down the performance of rookie QB Sam Darnold at the team's minicamp on Wednesday.

Jets QB Sam Darnold may be a rookie, but his new team isn't treating him like one. 

The No. 3 overall pick hasn't been eased into his new role with the Jets, but rather, the team is throwing everything they can at him. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said the entire playbook has been thrown his way during the team's three-day mandatory minicamp. 

The reason? Bates says that's how you see what Darnold can truly handle.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater
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Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

With all NFL talk revolving around the new national anthem policy, Jets QB Josh McCown wants people to focus on the work behind the scenes that doesn't get as much recognition. 

McCown, who is a member of the Players' Coalition, has been a big supporter and advocate for social justice reform. For one, he was one of a few Jets members that signed a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials calling for bail reform in the country. 

It is work like that letter that McCown wishes got more attention than the anthem policy...

Tags: Josh McCown
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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Over the last few weeks, we've been looking back at last year's rookies in an effort to assess what their role will be in 2018 and where we can expect them to make improvements on what they brought to the table last year.

Jeremy Clark spent virtually the entire 2017 on the injured list, which was something the Jets must have anticipated when they drafted him. Clark was recovering from a torn ACL when the Jets selected him in the sixth round, presumably on the basis that he'd have gone much sooner had he been healthy. He was unable to practice at training camp and his rookie season was essentially a redshirt year. However, the Jets were able to activate him at the end of the year and he made his NFL debut in the season finale.

Preseason Stats: Did not play.
Regular Season Stats: One game played.
Projected Role: Back-up cornerback.

Tags: Jeremy Clark
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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Former Jets QB Christian Hackenberg was waived by the Raiders on Tuesday.

Hackenberg was traded last month for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2019 -- a pick the Raiders will now get to keep. 

"I was disappointed in not really giving Christian the opportunity to go to camp," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said after Tuesday's practice, per ESPN. "We felt like we needed to add a couple defensive linemen. We ran out of numbers, and that's not good at that position heading into camp."

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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Sam Darnold on adjustments 00:00:32
Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold explains the challenges he's facing while making the adjustment to calling plays in the huddle in the NFL.

Jets QB Sam Darnold on Tuesday shed light on the learning curve he has experienced during his transition to the NFL.

"It hasn't been super easy to adjust but it's all the same plays," Darnold said on the first day of the Jets' mandatory minicamp. "It's just getting used to the different terminology... being able to picture the play in my head when it's called makes it easier to call it in the huddle."

Darnold, the Jets' first round pick this year, earned roughly 20 first-team reps, according to Newsday. QB Josh McCown led the pack with around 20 first-team reps, while Teddy Bridgewater also had a handful of first-team snaps.

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Jets QB's throwing deep 00:00:33
See Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown throwing darts to their receivers at New York Jets minicamp on Tuesday.

Check back here for highlights from the Jets' first day of mandatory minicamp...


The first day of the Jets' three-day mandatory minicamp kicked off on Tuesday, and rookie QB Sam Darnold continues to get some reps with the first-team offense. Throughout the day, Darnold bounced around the depth chart by taking most of his reps with the third team to go along with his few throws with the first team. 

CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE VIDEO

Tags: Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor
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Sep 10, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)
Sep 10, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)

Last Thursday in San Diego, California, ex-Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested on suspicion of burglary at a mobile-home park, reports NBC San Diego's Rafael Avitabile.

A burglary call was made at around 2:30 p.m. by a neighbor in the Park Encinitas Mobile Home Park.

According to Winslow's publicist, Denise White, "An over-reactive neighbor called police after she saw Kellen walking around a mobile home." Winslow was later arrested and charged with first-degree burglary as well as being held on $50,000 bail. 

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Five Things for the Jets 00:00:33
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano reveals the five most interesting things to watch for during this week's New York Jets minicamp.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The next few weeks and months are all about one thing for the Jets, really - the preparation for The Sam Darnold Era. It's going to begin at some point. The Jets believe it will be glorious.

The only question is: When?

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, Dylan Donahue, Jordan Jenkins, Jordan Leggett, Josh McCown, Leonard Williams, Lorenzo Mauldin, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson (60) walks off the field following training camp at SUNY Cortland. (Richard Barnes)
New York Jets offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson (60) walks off the field following training camp at SUNY Cortland. (Richard Barnes)

Former Jets OL D'Brickashaw Ferguson still gets asked if would kneel during the national anthem despite being out of the NFL today. 

Well, he broke that silence on Monday when he penned an article addressing that exact question. Ferguson began his piece by noting his thoughts about the anthem protests reached its peak while watching the Jets against the Dolphins last season.

He saw how the entire team locked arms on the sideline, and wondered what he could do. 

Tags: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
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New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire lunges for yards defended by Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire lunges for yards defended by Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the next few weeks, we're going to look back at last year's rookies in an effort to assess what their role will be in 2018 and where we can expect them to make improvements on what they brought to the table last year.

Elijah McGuire had what looked like being a breakout performance against the Jaguars in Week 4, when he racked up 131 yards on 12 touches, including a spectacular 69-yard touchdown run. However, that breakout never fully materialized as he struggled to produce much over the rest of the year, other than the occasional flash. Will he be able to earn a more significant role in 2018?

Tags: Bilal Powell, Brian Winters, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte, Wesley Johnson
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Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue (49) before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)
Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue (49) before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be looking back at last year's rookies in an effort to assess what their role will be in 2018 and where we can expect them to make improvements on what they brought to the table last year.

Dylan Donahue will be hoping to bounce back after a rookie season that was cut short by injury and an offseason which saw him dealing with off-field issues. The coaching staff has been high on his potential, but he didn't really get much of a chance to deliver on that yet.

Preseason stats: Three games, four tackles, 0.5 sacks
Regular-season stats: Four games, five tackles
Projected role: Situational pass rusher

Tags: Dylan Donahue
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