During the offseason, I’ll be looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. I will be tackling as many diverse topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

This week, I am going to look at the pressure generated by the Jets defense. We all say things like "The Jets can't get any pressure without sending a blitz" or "Too many of the Jets blitzes are unsuccessful" or speculate over whether the Jets need to blitz more, or less and how they can improve their personnel to upgrade the pass rush. What can we learn from looking back at the data in more detail?

After the jump, I look at the data to try and determine how good the pass rush is and whether a change in approach or personnel will yield faster improvements.

Once again, I have used data provided by ProFootballFocus.com in researching this article and we thank them for providing us with exclusive access.

2010 - The Raw Data

49 sacks, 48 QB hits, 153 pressures

Let's stack that up against last year:

41 sacks, 56 QB hits, 179 pressures

That doesn't actually look to be all that worse, especially with the improved sack numbers. How does is compare with the last year of the Mangini era, when the defense rarely blitzed?

40 sacks, 29 QB hits, 129 pressures

Okay, no shock there, well below the other two years. Right? Well, actually, since the team didn't make the playoffs that year, that was in three less games, so had they played three more games and generated pressure at the same rate, the number would look more like this:

48 sacks, 34 QB hits, 153 pressures

Oh.

So, Rex Ryan's defense doesn't actually seem to generate all that much more pressure than Eric Mangini's did. Before we go anywhere, we should probably address that. While the inclusion of a healthy Kris Jenkins for an entire season was a huge factor, and one which should not be overlooked as the Jets weigh up whether or not to re-sign the recently released big man to a more cap-friendly deal, my own feeling is that these pressure statistics can sometimes be a little misleading, for reasons I will investigate further as we go along.

Raw pressure numbers don't always tell the full story. If Team A blitzes twice as often as Team B, then obviously you'd expect Team A to generate more pressure, perhaps even twice as much. However, sometimes less is more. If you hardly ever blitz, then a rare blitzer off the edge will be that much less expected and the element of surprise could lead to a big defensive play. Witness Abram Elam in the closing stages of the late season win over Buffalo. He was completely untouched and forced a fumble that Shaun Ellis returned for the winning score. That's the defensive equivalent of developing a tendency by "always" doing the same thing and then breaking the tendency to catch the other team out and come up with a big play. Unfortunately, that particular tendency made it pretty easy for the other team to pick apart their coverage most of the time (although in a chicken/egg sense, maybe the lack of blitzing was a product of the inefficiencies in coverage).

On the flipside, a team that blitzed ALL the time is going to become pretty predictable and easy to beat. This would be the offensive equivalent of running a play action pass on every single play, even if you haven't established a running game. Fortunately, Rex Ryan is creative enough with his blitz packages that when he does decide to go blitz-happy, this isn't as predictable as it might be. He also has the option to break tendency and drop guys into coverage with the offense expecting a blitz.

Anyway, let's investigate the number of guys sent after the quarterback on a per-dropback basis:

2008: 4.1

2009: 4.6

2010: 4.3

Okay, so that makes a lot of sense and shouldn't surprise anyone. When Rex Ryan arrived, he sent a lot more pressure and this created a statistical spike in the hit/pressure numbers, but not necessarily the sacks, for reasons we'll get to. Then last year, the Jets sent slightly less pressure, due either to the fact that the secondary was struggling and needed extra guys back or the fact that the pass rush was less effective so they didn't bother to use it as much, or perhaps a little of both. That may not have been the plan from the outset. In fact, the number of pressure sent reduced as the year went on. In Week One, they actually sent 4.8 pass rushers per dropback, which was ahead of 2009's pace.

Something else we can look at is the number of guys that the offense left in to block. If the offense went to max-protect and had seven blockers in, then you wouldn't expect to get as much pressure - even with a five or six man rush - as you would against a team that just left five offensive linemen in to block. Getting no pressure five-on-five is a lot more disconcerting than getting no pressure six-on-seven. So, on average, how many guys did teams leave in to block against the Jets in each of the last three years?

Here we can see a definite trend. In 2010, opposing offenses left, on average, an additional 0.70 backs or tight ends in to block on every dropback. In 2009, it was even higher (0.75). However, in 2008, teams left significantly fewer guys in to block. 0.40 to be exact, which translates to almost half as often. In fact, for the five games from Week 12 to Week 16, the number dropped as low as 0.17. Clearly, teams have been responding to the threat of a pass rush by leaving more blockers in since Rex Ryan took over.

How do these numbers compare to other teams around the league? In 2009 and 2010, the Jets left in 0.51 and 0.53 extra blockers per dropback, respectively. This appears to be more or less the norm, although there are teams which respond differently. For example, the Colts (0.38) tend to rely on Peyton Manning to diagnose the blitz and adjust the protection accordingly rather than relying on max protect schemes and the Lions (0.33) tend to switch to a quick passing game. Notably, the Jets faced these teams a total of four times in 2009 and 2010 - over 10% of their schedule - but the blockers left in against them was still statistically much higher than the norm. In 2008, the Jets only left in 0.33 on average, but this was because they often went to an empty backfield and simply relied on Brett Favre to get rid of the ball.

In any case, 0.7 and above is a significantly high number.

When is a Pressure Not a Pressure?

As I said earlier, team pressure stats can be pretty misleading. You might expect Rex Ryan's blitz-happy scheme to generate a ton more pressure than the passive-aggressive scheme designed by Bob Sutton and Eric Mangini. In fact, the numbers were not too far apart, but there are reasons for this. Sometimes a statistical pressure does not have much effect on preventing the offense from doing what it wants to. Equally, sometimes a non-pressure has a positive effect in terms of stopping the passing game. Let's start with an example of that. Rather than "when is a pressure not a pressure?" here we are asking "when is a non-pressure actually (like) a pressure?"

We've already touched upon the fact that teams responded to the threat of pressure by leaving additional guys in to block. Already this has an effect upon the offense, by taking one (or maybe more) potential receivers out of the equation and limiting the options open to the offense. Maybe this transfers the onus onto the guys in coverage to perform, which is exactly what Rex Ryan wanted in 2009. In 2010 that wasn't so much the case and in 2008 it was probably the last thing the Jets needed.

As also noted above, some teams responded to the threat of pressure by calling plays where the quarterback got rid of the ball quickly. This is a good way to ensure the defense doesn't get to you, but again it limits your options, because it means that any slow developing or downfield routes are not available to you. The additional blocker numbers suggest that, under Mangini, the Jets definitely didn't force teams to think about leaving extra blockers in very often, but I'm sure you can recall teams picking apart the Jets with short passing, especially at the end of the season when those additional blocker numbers were at their absolute lowest. This was made much easier by individual weaknesses in coverage, where the Jets were eventually able to upgrade from Eric Barton and Abram Elam by getting Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard.

Essentially, if the Jets' pressure has caused the opposition to resort to either of these options, then it will have already started to take away some of the things the offense wants to do.

Let's instead look at when a team might end up with more statistical pressure than you'd expect because their pass defense was not very successful. In the case of the 2008 Jets, despite not blitzing as much, they weren't all that far behind in terms of the total pressure they were able to generate. However, you have to consider the difference in terms of the individual talent on each team.

In 2009 especially, teams were getting rid of the ball before the pressure could get to them, either by releasing it quickly or by flushing their quarterback out of the pocket and rolling protection over to that side. In essence, they would be looking to get rid of the ball before there was any pressure, because they didn't want their QB taking a sack or throwing into a playmaking secondary while under pressure. Sometimes this might have led to passes being rushed or bad decisions being made - not because of pressure, but because of the threat of pressure. That might sound a bit strange, but here are some examples from this season that might demonstrate my point:

Week Two: Tom Brady

Under Pressure - 5 of 13, 52 yards

When Blitzed - 14 of 24, 177 yards, two interceptions

From these numbers, we can clearly see that when Brady was blitzed, but the pressure didn't get to him, he fared much better. However, it was in these situations that he also made his two most costly mistakes.

Week Five: Brett Favre

Under Pressure - Two TDs in eight passes, 38% completions, 118.2 rating

When Blitzed - 33% completions in 24 passes, 68.6 rating, one pick-six

In this example, Favre's completion percentage was even lower when there was a blitz but he got rid of the ball before the pressure got to him, in one instance leading to the clinching touchdown for Dwight Lowery. When he did wait for his receivers to get open, he was able to deliver a couple of TD passes, even when under pressure.

Week 15: Ben Roethlisberger

Under Pressure - 67% completions, 102.8 rating

When Blitzed - 47% completions, 73.1 rating

Again, it's obvious that when a blitz generated no pressure, this still had the effect of reducing Roethlisberger's accuracy.

You would normally expect that a defense would be at its most vunerable when they blitzed but didn't generate pressure. In many cases, that was true, but these examples suggest that sometimes the reason blitzes aren't generating pressure is not necessarily because it was well-picked up or the pass rushers did a bad job. Instead, teams deliberately try to avoid putting their quarterback into that situation and this can cause mistakes or give the defense a better chance to make a play.

Note: Of course, not all pressure comes from blitzing, but we'll be looking into how much does later on.

In 2008, teams knew that the Jets' pass rush didn't pose much of a threat and also that there were a few players who were struggling in coverage. Therefore, they could afford to give their receivers time to get open, even though this might lead to their quarterback being under more pressure. At some point - probably during those last couple of months - teams realized that a throw under pressure with your receiver having plenty of time to get open was a much higher percentage play than throwing the ball without pressure but earlier. With the coverage a lot better over the last two years, throwing without pressure became that much more important, with throws needing to be that much more accurate to get the ball to more tightly-covered receivers. Also, inviting pressure was that much more dangerous due to the personnel and unpredictable nature of the blitz packages, so teams would again make a conscious effort to avoid that.

I obviously don't have the resources to do so, but I would expect that if you recorded the average amount of time taken to get to the quarterback for each of the pressures generated, it would take longer on average in 2008 than it did in each of the last two years. That would be a far more accurate statistical representation of the defense's pass rushing abilities than the raw pressure/hit/sack numbers.

Where Does Pressure Come From?

As I mentioned above, it's commonly stated that the 2010 Jets couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. Is that fair?

Using PFF's numbers to look at how many sacks came on plays where the Jets blitzed throws up some interesting trends. First of all, we can determine that exactly two-thirds of their sacks came on plays where they blitzed. However, the season splits neatly into three sections:

First Five Games: 12 sacks, seven when blitzing (58%)

Next Seven Games: 15 sacks, 14 when blitzing (93%)

Last Seven Games: 21 sacks, 11 when blitzing (52%)

Note: I realize that only adds up to 48, but it's close enough for these purposes.

So, there was defintely a part of the season where it was certainly true that the Jet couldn't get sacks (not necessarily pressures) without blitzing. However, for much of the year, they were getting almost as many sacks when they didn't blitz.

Whilst this suggests that the Jets were more effective in terms of winning one-on-one matchups than you might have thought, based on what I'd saw, I'd suggest that this was a product of the improvements the Jets made in their zone coverages over the second half of the year. At least three times against the Pats, Tom Brady's first option wasn't there and the pressure was upon him. While I wouldn't call these coverage sacks, the coverage definitely played a role in enabling the pass rushers to get to the quarterback. There were also a couple of other memorable coverage sacks - one where Manning ate the ball and another where Jay Cutler was sacked after nine seconds by Marcus Dixon. The Jets also made a tactical adjustment late in the season, whereby they lined up their edge rushers wider and instructed them to go after the quarterback, instead of taking on blocks as they had been told to do earlier in the year.

How else can we establish whether pressures were generated from blitzing? One thing we can look at is how much pressure came from Defensive Backs or Inside Linebackers, because we know that must all be generated from them blitzing.

In 2010, remember how they had 49 sacks, 48 QB hits, 153 pressures? Here's how that breaks down:

Defensive Backs - 11 / 7 / 26

Inside Linebackers - 4 / 17 / 20

DL/OLB - 34 / 24 / 107

Now, that doesn't mean that all of the DL/OLB pressure came when there was not a blitz. Far from it, in fact. However, let's see how this breakdown stacks up with the last few years.

In 2009, they had 41 sacks, 56 QB hits, 179 pressures. Here's how that breaks down:

Defensive Backs - 9 / 19 / 38

Inside Linebackers - 9 / 19 / 22

DL/OLB - 23 / 18 / 110

As a percentage, it's clear that less of the pressure came from the linemen and OLB's and more came from the DB's, which suggests that last year's defense was just as - if not more reliant - upon the blitz to generate pressure.

In 2008, they had 40 sacks, 29 QB hits, 129 pressures. Here's how that breaks down:

Defensive Backs - 7 / 3 / 16

Inside Linebackers - 3 / 1 / 14

DL/OLB - 30 / 25 / 99

This time, it's a much higher percentage of the pressure that comes from the defensive line and OLB's. This suggests that Bob Sutton's defense was less reliant on the blitz, but also that they may have got a lot of pressure from teams holding onto the ball, as documented earlier. It perhaps also underscores how much of a difference Kris Jenkins can make if he plays all season. He was responsible for 4 / 6 / 10 on his own, but his ability to take on double teams and collapse the pocket no doubt contributed to the numbers throughout the team.

Pace Study: Calvin's Role

While it would take forever to analyze the efficacy of every blitz, let's instead look at an individual whose pressure statistics were wildly different in 2010 than they had been in the previous season. Calvin Pace may have had eight sacks (and four QB hits) in 2010, which is almost exactly the same as his 2009 output (nine and three hits), but his pressure numbers dropped all the way from 35 to eight. Pace had six pressures in the AFC Title game alone in 2009 and seven in the Wild Card game! What caused this remarkable drop-off?

There's one obvious answer and it again invokes the fact that the Jets dropped more players into coverage in 2010. On passing downs, Pace was employed as a defensive end in a three man front, usually with Jason Taylor opposite him and Shaun Ellis or Trevor Pryce over the center. Rushing three-on-five was something he very rarely had to do, prior to this season, mainly only against the pass-happy teams when the Jets went with five or more DBs. In 2010 it took up a very high percentage (43%) of his pass rushing attempts.

Arguably, he wasn't expected to get much pressure on those downs and it was almost a thankless task. The coaching staff even alluded to the fact that the linemen's role on these plays was often to occupy a blocker so that a blitzer could come free.

Let's look in detail at the plays where Pace recorded his eight sacks, four hits and eight pressures, to get some insight into how much of the DL/OLB pressure came from blitzes:

Week 5 v Minnesota:

1st Quarter - Pressure. 5 man rush. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

2nd Quarter - Sack. No blitz. DE in 4-3 formation.

3rd Quarter - Pressure. 4 man rush. Lined up as OLB in 3-4 formation.

4th Quarter - Hit. 4 man rush. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Week 6 at Denver:

3rd Quarter - Pressure. No blitz. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Week 8 v Green Bay:

1st Quarter - Pressure. Three man rush, with two DL dropping. Lined up as OLB in 3-4 formation.

2nd Quarter - Hit. No blitz. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Week 9 at Cleveland:

4th Quarter - Sack. Four man rush, with one DL dropping. Lined up as DE in 4-3 formation.

Week 10 at Detroit:

4th Quarter - Pressure. Five man rush, with one DL dropping. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Week 12 v Cincinnati:

2nd Quarter - Pressure. No blitz. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

4th Quarter - Sack. Four man rush. Lined up as OLB in 3-3-5 formation.

Week 13 at NE:

2nd Quarter - Pressure. No blitz. DE in 4-3 formation.

3rd Quarter - Sack. Five man rush. Lined up as OLB in a 3-4 formation.

Week 14 v Miami:

2nd Quarter - Sack. Five man rush. Lined up as OLB in a 4-3 formation.

Week 15 at Pittsburgh:

2nd Quarter - Pressure. No blitz. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Week 17 v Buffalo:

2nd Quarter - Hit. Five man rush. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

2nd Quarter - Sack. No blitz. DE in 4-3 formation.

3rd Quarter - Hit. Six man rush. Lined up as DE in 3-man front.

Wild Card at Indianapois:

2nd Quarter - Sack. No blitz. DE in 4-3 formation.

Divisional Playoff at NE:

3rd Quarter - Sack. Five man rush. Lined up as OLB in a 3-4 formation.

AFC Title Game at Pittsburgh:

3rd Quarter - Sack. Five man rush. Lined up as ILB in a 3-4 formation.

Analyzing the data, we can see that a surprising 40% of Pace's total pressure came without the Jets blitzing. Three of his eight sacks came while lined up as a 4-3 DE with a conventional four man rush and the other five were all when the Jets blitzed. That may be a telling statistic in terms of where his strength lies.

Although I said that rushing the passer as a DE in a three man front is a thankless task, Pace did record four hits and four pressures from that position, including three pressures and a hit where it was just a three man rush. However, that is still less than 43% of his total pressure and didn't include any sacks, even when the Jets blitzed, so him being forced to play that role did seem to have at least a minor effect.

On the whole, that does not fully explain the precipitous drop in statistical production though, so we must assume that it was a down year for Pace and hope that this was affected by his foot injury and that he will produce more if healthy.

Conclusions

Having outlined how misleading the pressure statistic can be and demonstrated how not generating pressure can sometimes be more impactful than a statistical pressure, I hope I've still managed to produce a revealing study without rendering everything I've written to be meaningless. The Scheme/Personnel, Blitz/Cover, Pass Rush/Secondary debates will continue throughout the offseason as the Jets make every personnel decision on the defensive side of the ball. Like the Chicken and the Egg, I'm not sure where the answer lies, but the Jets cannot afford to neglect any area as they look to bolster their pass rush, one way or another.

There's no overriding conclusion to be drawn, but hopefully this can be the on-ramp for continued discussion amongst yourselves.

At a later date, I do intend to investigate the actual outcome of specific plays where the Jets blitzed, regardless of whether pressure was generated. This will further test the theory that the threat of pressure can often affect the outcome of a play just as much as "real" pressure.

However, next week, I shall return to the offensive side of the ball...

Tags: BGA, Main Page, Bent Double

 (Jasen Vinlove)
(Jasen Vinlove)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX - Todd Bowles has declared he will hold an "open competition" at quarterback this summer between the three quarterbacks on his roster, and maybe even a fourth one from the draft. He did not promise veteran Josh McCown the job when the Jets signed him, and he wouldn't say his experience gives him any edge.

All of them will have an equal shot to be the Jets' Opening Day starter. And that's the right approach. It's also the only thing the Jets coach could do.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Isaiah J. Downing)
(Isaiah J. Downing)

The Jets will sign OL Jonotthan Harrison to a one-year deal, reports Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday, who says Harrison will compete for the starting center job.

Harrison, 25, played in 13 games for the Colts last season, including four starts.

He played 31 of 32 games for the Colts from 2014 to 2015, starting 19.

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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Jets owner Woody Johnson is in Arizona for the NFL owners meetings, along with his brother Christopher, according to Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday.

The Jets owner declined to talk to reporters on Sunday.

Woody Johnson has long been expected to be named the ambassador to the United Kingdom in President Donald Trump's administration, although the president has not yet formally announced the appointment.

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Josh McCown led the Browns down the field on their initial drive. The drive stalled after McCown's fumble in the end zone, and the quarterback suffered a concussion on the play and did not return. (AP)
Josh McCown led the Browns down the field on their initial drive. The drive stalled after McCown's fumble in the end zone, and the quarterback suffered a concussion on the play and did not return. (AP)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Mike Maccagnan wouldn't say if Josh McCown will be the Jets' starting quarterback this season - that, he insisted, is a decision for coach Todd Bowles. But he did say that McCown can still be a good quarterback, even as he closes in on 38 years old.

"I know he's had some injuries this past season, but the season before he played and actually did some good things for Cleveland," Maccagnan said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. "I still think he has good football left in him. We do think he has the ability to play and perform if needed."

The Jets signed McCown to a one-year, $6 million contract last week, with another possible (but unlikely) $7 million in incentives. Maccagnan said that the 15-year vet - a journeyman now on his eighth NFL team - was under consideration from the start of free agency, even as the Jets sorted through all their other options.

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Should the Jets trade down? 00:03:02
The Daily News Live crew discusses whether or not the Jets should trade down so they can acquire more draft picks.

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets were so intent on acquiring more draft picks that just three weeks ago Mike Maccagnan insisted the Jets were "open for business every round."

Now it sounds like he means every round except the first.

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QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One year after using a second-round pick on quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said he "potentially" could draft a quarterback again. And no, he insisted, that wouldn't mean he's admitting a mistake on Hackenberg.

It would just be another step in the long process of finding "the right quarterback for this team."

"I don't think taking a player at one position is a referendum on another player," Maccagnan said on a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon. "I think the goal is to put together best roster you can. Of course quarterback is a very, very important position in this process. But I wouldn't necessarily view it as a referendum."

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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DeShone Kizer highlights 00:01:19
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Notre Dame quarterback and NFL Draft prospect DeShone Kizer.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Only time will tell if the Jets are serious about taking a quarterback in the first-round of the draft, but in the meantime they certainly are doing their homework.

The latest proof of that is the NFL Network report that they've already held a private workout with DeShone Kizer, the Notre Dame quarterback considered to be one of the top three quarterback prospects in the draft. That explains why Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles skipped Notre Dame's Pro Day on Thursday and were both at Ohio State's Pro Day instead.

The Jets also have a private workout scheduled with North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who revealed that "secret" to reporters at his own Pro Day earlier this week. And while it's not known if the Jets plan to do the same with Clemson's DeShaun Watson, it seems likely that they will...

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 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The NFL's free-agent signing period is open, so bookmark this page and keep checking back for frequent updates on what the Jets are doing with their own free agents and with free agents from other teams, and for updates on their available salary cap space and contract numbers.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

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Brian Bassett is joined by SNY Analyst and former New York Jet Willie Colon for an all-new podcast, as they cover all the angles of the Jets rebuild - including Josh McCown, the future at running back, the state of the defense, and whether or not Todd Bowles will be around to see it all through.

Click below to listen!

 

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Marshon Lattimore highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One day after sending a large contingent to North Carolina to watch quarterback Mitch Trubisky at his Pro Day, the Jets rolled out their big guns for the Pro Day at Ohio State.

General Manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles were both in attendance at the Buckeyes Pro Day, according to reports out of Columbus, Ohio, along with representatives of every other NFL team -- including Giants scouting director Marc Ross. Maccagnan and Bowles were surely taking a close look at cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker -- two strong candidates for the Jets to take with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

And for what it's worth, they chose a trip to Columbus over a trip to South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame was holding its Pro Day on Thursday. The star of the Fighting Irish showcase was another quarterback -- DeShone Kizer -- who could go in the first round (though likely not as high as 6)...

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 (Kyle Terada)
(Kyle Terada)

WR Quinton Patton has signed with the Jets, the team annnounced Thursday.

He had visited with the team this past weekend.

Last season, Patton recorded 37 catches for 408 yards with the 49ers.

Tags: Charone Peake, Quincy Enunwa
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Jamal Adams highlights 00:01:05
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of LSU safety Jamal Adams.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Now that the big-money part of NFL free agency is over, teams have begun increasingly focusing on the NFL draft, and their first-round targets are becoming a little clearer. So here's SNY's weekly look at the top players on board for the Jets as they prepare to make the sixth overall pick of the NFL draft on April 27:

1.) S Jamal Adams, LSU - From the beginning, I've been focused on a cornerback for the Jets in this spot and Marshon Lattimore sure is a possibility (see below). But after free agency, it's clear that safety is the Jets' biggest unfulfilled need. No, they didn't do big things at corner either, but they have young players they liked and they added some potential in Morris Claiborne. At safety, though, they don't have much after striking out on Tony Jefferson in free agency. Calvin Pryor is in the last year of his contract and Marcus Gilchrist could be a salary cap casualty after the season. The 6-foot, 214-pound Adams is the best at his position in the draft and could be the leader of the Jets' secondary for years. (Last report: 2)...

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Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera (81) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera (81) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

TE Mychal Rivera has agreed to terms with the Jaguars, reports Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

Rivera visted the Jets on Monday, according to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports.

Rivera caught 18 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown in 13 games with Oakland last season. 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson took to Instagram to refute a recent report that he is out of shape. 

In a video posted to his Instagram story, Wilkerson is seen running on a treadmill while sarcastically responding about his conditioning. 

"They say I'm fat and out of shape," he said. "Ha-ha. Keep sleeping on me. I'm telling you."

Wilkerson was referencing an article by the Daily News' Manish Mehta from last week. In the piece, Mehta quotes unnamed scouts who said the 27-year-old looked out of shape when he attended the Temple Pro Day in Philadelphia.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson
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Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kirby Lee)
Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kirby Lee)

Mel Kiper's third Mock Draft for ESPN has the Jets selecting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Kiper notes that if the Jets are going to go with Josh McCownBryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg at quarterback, they are going to need someone to catch passes, and at 6-foot-6, 251 pounds, Howard is Kiper's top-ranked pass-catcher. While his numbers were not staggering at Alabama, Howard "has all of the athletic attributes of a top-tier player, though, and he was one of the most impressive prospects at the combine."

Howard caught 45 passes for 595 yards and three touchdowns last season. In his four years at Alabama, the 22-year old accumulated 114 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns.

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DNL on new Jets quarterback 00:02:51
The Daily News Live panel breaks down the Jets new man under center, journeyman quarterback and ex-Brown, Josh McCown.

The Daily News Live panel breaks down the Jets new man under center, journeyman quarterback and ex-Brown, Josh McCown. 

 


Weighing the Jets QB options 00:01:15
Ralph Vacchiano on the Jets' quarterback quandary after signing Josh McCown.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One day after signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown, the Jets' search for their quarterback of the future continued in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Jets had a group of scouts and coaches -- reportedly including new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates -- in attendance there on Tuesday for the University of North Carolina's Pro Day, where the star attraction was Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky. And they're interested enough in the 22-year-old that Trubisky told reporters the Jets have set up a private workout with him, too.

The Jets currently are slated to pick sixth in the upcoming NFL draft and Trubisky and Clemson's Deshaun Watson are the only quarterbacks most NFL scouts and talent evaluators consider to be potential Top 10 picks. Some don't think any of the quarterbacks are Top 10 worthy, which means they could be available if the Jets decide to trade down.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Josh McCown 00:01:28
Taylor Rooks talks with SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano on the Jets signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Josh McCown is not the New York Jets' quarterback of the future, but neither were any of the other quarterbacks available on the free-agent market. There was no ideal answer to the Jets' biggest question.

But McCown is the perfect player to get them closer to the answers they need.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick
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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The No. 1 priority for the Jets heading into this offseason was unquestionably to find a quarterback. Nothing else came close. Without a quarterback, nothing else really mattered. The Jets were desperate.

Or so we all thought.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports Images)
(Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports Images)

Writer/director Spike Lee said it's "fishy" that free agent QB Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned, mentioning the Jets among the teams that could use Kaepernick.

"The New York J-E-T-S Need A Quarterback," Lee wrote on Instagram. "Who Is The J-E-T-S Quarterback? Is My Man Joe Willie Namath Coming Back? Crazy Times We Live In."

Lee, who recently had brunch with Kaepernick, added that Kaepernick being unsigned "stinks to the high heavens."

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) runs past New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) runs past New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Free agent quarterback Chase Daniel will visit with the Jets on Monday, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed.

Last Monday, Daniel asked the Eagles for his release after they traded for veteran QB Nick Foles.

The 30-year-old backup quarterback visited with the Saints over the weekend, but left New Orleans without a deal.

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GEICO SportsNite: McCown 00:00:53
After reports that QB Josh McCown left his visit with the Jets without a contract, Ray Lucas discusses if signing the veteran is a fit.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

The Jets' latest search for their quarterback of the future could be nearing a temporary conclusion. And if it is, they'll have yet another short-term answer to the franchise's biggest problem.

Josh McCown, a 37-year-old journeyman free agent, continued his visit with the Jets for a second day on Saturday, according to an NFL source. The two sides are serious enough about each other that they've discussed contract parameters, the source said. Indications were that his visit was going very well.

That seems to position McCown as the leader of the dwindling pack of Jets' quarterback options. The Jets are also interested in former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, according to a source, and though he was expected to be brought in for a visit that has not happened yet. A team source confirmed the Jets have no interest in ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and beyond that the market is extremely thin.

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CB Morris Claiborne has signed with the Jets, the team announced. 

It will be a one-year deal worth $5 million, according to multiple reports.

The 27-year-old Claiborne had 26 tackles and one interception in seven games last season for the Cowboys.

Tags: Buster Skrine, Juston Burris, Marcus Williams
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On the latest edition of Timeout with Taylor Rooks, former Jets QB Geno Smith sits down with Taylor to discuss his time with the Jets and his decision to join the Giants.

"I will always kind of have that regret because I wanted to do so many things for that franchise.....I'm not a quitter, I don't like to lose and I don't like to give up on things. Sometimes in business you have to go your separate ways."

Click below to listen...

 

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) scrambles away from Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty (99) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) scrambles away from Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty (99) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)

Free agent QB Josh McCown will visit the Jets on Friday and Saturday, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed. 

McCown, 37, recently visited with the Cowboys.

He completed 90 passes for 165 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions in five games last season for the Browns...

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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Smart or Disappointing 00:02:19
Marc Malusis and Dan Graca discuss if the jets had a smart or disappointing off season

Marc Malusis and Dan Graca discuss if the jets had a smart or disappointing offseason.

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Jets making right moves in FA? 00:03:37
The Daily News Live panel debates whether or not the Jets have been right in their approach to free agency so far this offseason.

The Daily News Live panel debates whether or not the Jets have been right in their approach to free agency so far this offseason.


 (Mark Hoffman)
(Mark Hoffman)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets claimed defensive tackle Mike Pennel off waivers in February, only to let him go a month later. Now they are bringing him back again.

The 25-year-old Pennel has signed a one-year deal with the Jets, his agent, Andy Simms, confirmed on Twitter. The former Green Bay Packer will be in the mix this summer to make the team on the Jets' crowded defensive line.

Pennel was once seen as a promising player. The 6-4, 332-pounder even started five games with the Packers in 2015. But his career took a bad turn last season when he was suspended twice -- for the first four games and then the last four games -- for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy...

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Let me get you started with the questions, because I know the big one that's on everybody's mind:

Q: What are the Jets going to do at quarterback?

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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Quincy Enunwa's breakout year was another example of how the former sixth-round pick has exceeded expectations. And in the NFL, young players get compensated for doing that.

To no one's surprise, the 24-year old receiver led the Jets in performance-based compensation from the NFL for the second straight season, pocketing another $327,637 for his 58-catch, 857-yard season. The annual bonus distribution is a way for the NFL and NFL Players Association to make sure that lower-salaried players are compensated for excellent performances, without counting against a team's salary cap.

In 2015, Enunwa pocketed nearly $300,000 in performance-based pay, giving him about $625,000 in bonuses for the last two seasons. His salaries for those two seasons were slightly more than $850,000 combined, so his bonuses equated to about 74 percent of his base pay...

Tags: Ben Ijalana, Rontez Miles, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (88) carries the ball ahead of San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (88) carries the ball ahead of San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been suspended by the NFL for two games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the team announced. 

Late last September, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested for a DUI charge and was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three days later, the Jets claimed him off waivers. 

In seven games with the Jets, he recorded 10 catches for 110 yards. 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field.  (Brad Mills (USA Today))
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills (USA Today))

A Pittsburgh judge has dismissed all charges against former Jets CB Darrelle Revis.

According to reports, Revis' childhood friend appeared before the judge with his attorney and said he pulled the accusers off Revis and punched them.

Pittsburgh police charged Revis with four felonies, including two counts of aggravated assault, one count of robbery, one count of conspiracy/aggravated assault and one count misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats for the incident that took place in the early morning hours of Feb. 12.

Tags: Darrelle Revis
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 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are looking for a versatile third running back and kick returner and had made an offer to Travaris Cadet, but he has chosen to remain with the Saints, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Cadet was also weighing an offer from the Bills.

A 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, Cadet -- who visited with the Jets this past weekend -- has spent most of his five NFL seasons with the Saints. He had 40 catches and four receiving touchdowns for New Orleans last year, where new Jets offensive coordinator John Morton was the receiving coach...

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Dont'a Hightower returns to Pats 00:02:26
The Daily News Live team talks about Dont'a Hightower's decision to re-sign with the defending-champion Patriots rather than the Jets.

Free agent LB Dont'a Hightower has returned to the Patriots, signing a four-year, $43.5 million deal that includes a $19 million signing bonus.

The 27-year-old All-Pro visited the Jets on Monday and the Steelers on Tuesday. 

There were reports that New York was among the highest bidders for Hightower's services, reportedly offering him more than $12 million per year.

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 (Daniel Powers (USA Today))
(Daniel Powers (USA Today))

Update: 

The Jets have offered free agent LB Dont'a Hightower more than $12 million per year, according to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole.

Jason La Confora reported yesterday that the Jets had offered the most money for Hightower. La Confora said that the 27-year-old was not inclined to take New York's offer.

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 (Steven Senne/AP)
(Steven Senne/AP)

In today's Jets mailbag, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano weighs in on the quarterback situation, the possibility of tanking, and the Jets' potential pitch to Dont'a Hightower...


Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Is it worth the #Jets going after a Brock Osweiler or Chase Daniel if other teams are on the hook for their salaries? -- @MiniHulk5

If you mean that's because their prices will be lower, I wouldn't worry about that. Yes, Osweiler and Daniel are already making money this season from their old teams, so perhaps they'd be willing to take less from their new one. But really, how high is their value going to be anyway? Right now I only count four teams without a starting quarterback - the Jets, Browns, Texans, and 49ers. The Texans are probably going to get Tony Romo and the other two are drafting 1-2 in April...

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Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) catches a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium. (Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) catches a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium. (Bruce Kluckhohn)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Looking to bolster their rushing attack - which might be especially important if they end up with an inexperienced quarterback - the Jets are bringing in fullback Zach Line for a free-agent visit.

The 26-year-old Line, who played the last four seasons for the Vikings, is expected to arrive in Florham Park, N.J., on Wednesday. He had been the Vikings' primary fullback the last two seasons. In 2016, the Vikings had the NFL's worst rushing attack, though that was largely due to the absence of running back Adrian Peterson. In 2015, they ranked fourth in the league as Peterson rushed for 1,485 yards.

The Jets did not have a true fullback on their roster last season, though they still ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Howard Jones (95) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9.  (Bill Streicher (USA Today))
Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Howard Jones (95) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9. (Bill Streicher (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Howard Jones, a defensive end who can play linebacker in a 3-4 defense and who spent the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will make a free-agent visit to the Jets on Friday, an NFL source confirmed.

The visit, reported by ESPN, will be a chance for the Jets to check on his rehabilitation from a torn ACL that limited him to just eight games last season. In 2015, before he got hurt, he showed a lot of promise with five sacks in 12 games, including five starts. He had two sacks that season in his NFL debut.

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Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

The free-agent market has thinned out a bit, but the Jets still have plenty of holes to fill. Yes, they still need a quarterback. But they have many other needs, too.

The good news is they still have a decent amount of salary-cap space and there is still help available. Here's a look at some of the non-quarterbacks still on the market who could be a fit:

CB Morris Claiborne (Cowboys) - The former sixth-overall pick (2012), he was long considered a bust before he began to finally play up to expectations last season - right up until he injured his groin. He's still only 27 and as the Jets begin a youth movement in the secondary it might be worth giving him a chance to prove his start last season wasn't a fluke. They'd need to move fast, though, since word is he could soon end up with the Ravens.

Tags: Darrelle Revis, Darron Lee, David Harris, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Patriots still tormenting Jets 00:02:49
The Daily News Live crew discusses how the Patriots are dominating the Jets in every aspect this offseason.

The Daily News Live crew discusses how the Patriots are dominating the Jets in every aspect this offseason.


Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are back with a new podcast, and for the Jets, it's been a few weeks of out with the old, and in with the…well, not much. The guys say goodbye to Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, and Nick Folk, and look ahead to what comes next as the Jets look to re-build around QB TBD.

Click below to listen!

 

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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets don't seem to be in any hurry to figure out their starting quarterback for 2017 and they are "considering all options," according to a source. At the moment there are many. None of them are great.

But Jay Cutler does appear to be up near the top of their list.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)
Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)

Latest Updates (Mar. 13)

4:25 p.m.: The Jets concluded their visit with free agent LB Dont'a Hightower on Monday afternoon.

11:10 a.m.: After visiting the Jets, Hightower is scheduled to visit the Steelers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

 

Tags: Darron Lee, David Harris, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Cutler to NY? 00:02:51
Ralph Vacchiano breaks down the latest on the New York Jets and Giants in free agency.

The Jets have called to express interest in free agent QB Jay Cutler, who was released by the Bears last week, reports SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

Cutler, 33, completed 81 of 137 passes for 1,059 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions in five games last season for the Bears while dealing with two separate injuries.

He threw for 3,659 yards in 2015 to go along with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

The Jets sat on the sidelines during the first few days of the NFL's free-agent frenzy, choosing to avoid some of the crazy contracts being thrown around. But they have done some spending, re-signing a few of their own players and bringing in a new left tackle and a new kicker.

So what's next? Well, the biggest question of all still hangs over the Jets since they don't yet know who their starting quarterback will be in 2017. Pretty much every other question pales in comparison to that one, and they don't appear much closer to answering it right now.

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 (Matt Kartozian)
(Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

The Jets still haven't ruled out bringing Geno Smith back to compete for their starting quarterback job next season. But the Giants may be taking a shot at him first.

Smith, the former Jets second-round pick, is making a free agent visit across town to the Giants on Saturday afternoon, an NFL source confirmed. The Giants are in the market for a backup to Eli Manning, with both Josh Johnson and Ryan Nassib currently unrestricted free agents.

A big part of the visit, according to one source, is so the Giants can get a sense for where the 26-year-old Smith is in his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered last October in his lone start last season with the Jets. In a recent interview with NFL Network, Smith said he was on track to be ready for the start of training camp in July, but likely wouldn't be ready for football activities before that.

Tags: Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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Kelvin Beachum started 15 games last season for Jacksonville (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
Kelvin Beachum started 15 games last season for Jacksonville (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: The Jets are still searching for a quarterback, but now they have someone who can protect his blindside.

Taking their first dip in this year's free-agent pool, the Jets signed former Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum on Friday night. He figures to immediately become the starter on the left side, taking the place of the Ryan Clady/Ben Ijalana combo the Jets used last season.

The Jets also filled two other key vacancies on Friday night when they signed former Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who replaces the recently released Nick Folk, and they re-signed long-snapper Tanner Purdum.

Beachum (6 foot 3, 308 pounds) was the big get for the Jets. A former seventh-round pick of the Steelers, he was on his way to becoming one of the best left tackles in the NFL before he tore his ACL during the 2015 season. He proved his recovery, though, by starting 15 games at left tackle for the Jaguars last year.

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Jets outlook for 2017 00:03:24
The Daily News Live panel wonders if the Jets have already given up on the 2017 season given the current makeup of the team.
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