Kevin Mawae was the catalyst for change at a time when the Jets needed to bury the tortured past and develop a successful, hard-nosed identity for the future. He was nasty, reliable and, because the Seattle Seahawks declined to retain his services, he was available.

The Jets signed Mawae to a five-year, $16.8M contract in February 1998—the highest salary ever awarded to a center at the time. There was no denying then, as there's no denying now, that every dime was money well spent.

In a game enamored with skill positions, Mawae's grace, agility, and startling quickness was a challenge to anyone who ever doubted a lineman's athleticism. His versatility took him from left tackle to right guard before finally settling down at center during his final season with the Seahawks.

He then re-established the center position once he put on his No. 68 jersey for the Jets.

Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, six with the Jets for every season from 1999 to 2004. He's also an eight-time All-Pro and was selected to the NFL 2000's All-Decade Team.

In 1998, Rich Cimini wrote about then-coach Bill Parcells' recruitment strategy for the mauler who'd become the centerpiece of an effective Jets offense:

After last season, coach Bill Parcells made a shopping list of his biggest off-season needs. The No. 1 priority was to replace Roger Duffy at center. When Parcells recruited Mawae, he pulled the actual list out of a large binder and showed it to Mawae.

Parcells couldn't stomach the thought of another season without an impact center.

"You're held hostage if you don't have a center," Parcells said. "It's the worst feeling. It's like going to the dentist. Not good news."

All eyes are on the quarterback after the snap, but it's the center and his offensive line that set the tone. Parcells knew that better than anyone, and placed his faith in the 6'4", 305-pound military brat.

Ironically enough, all the moving around in Mawae's childhood translated to his style of play on the field. Talented linemen are often called anchors—an analogy that never truly fit with Mawae's active and aggressive approach to blocking.

Hindsight allows us to see Parcells' plan for the Jets more than 13 years ago with vivid clarity today.

CAREERS INTERTWINED

Parcells and the Jets masterfully orchestrated a plan to snatch Curtis Martin away from the rival Patriots. It was Mawae's job to make the coach look brilliant for the transaction.

Martin's legendary career and consistent output is well known and appreciated among fans, but a lot of what Martin did for Gang Green is a credit to the powerhouse center who made it possible in the trenches.

Without triggering a chicken-egg debate, the center and running back simply complemented one another perfectly. They were the ideal partners, tremendous athletes entering their respective primes, on a team that needed them.

Martin and Mawae powered the Jets offense from 1998 to 2005 as the most reliable players in green. Neither missed games until 2005, when injuries staggered their careers and ended streaks for consecutive starts. (Martin started in 119-straight games; Mawae's streak ended at 177.)

Nonetheless, while injuries claimed quarterbacks, free agency lured away receivers, and ineptitude removed coaches, Martin and Mawae were the Jets' cornerstones, working tirelessly to keep the team competitive.

Martin rushed for 1,287 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season with the Jets, behind the brawny and brainy offensive line Mawae led. That continued through 2004 when Martin won the NFL rushing title with 1,697 yards behind Mawae and friends.

CENTER-SLASH-FULLBACK

One of the most significant and impressive abilities in Mawae's repertoire was quickness when pulling from the center position down the line of scrimmage. From his snap to the quarterback's handoff, Mawae sealed off edges and smashed linebackers in the mouth before the running back gained yards.

When Mawae was drafted, the concept of a pulling center was considered more of a unique skill, exclusively attributed to Steelers great Dermontti Dawson.

After Mawae left Seattle for the Jets, former teammate and Seahawks standout linebacker Chad Brown doubted Mawae's potential to be in Dawson's class.

"I don't want to take anything away from Kevin, but Dermontti is in a class by himself," Brown said before showering Mawae with praise. "Most teams don't have the athletic ability of a Kevin Mawae, who gets downfield and makes blocks against defensive backs in the secondary. Those guys turns 8-yard runs into 18- or 28-yarders. He is one of the most athletic centers in the league."

No one ever accused Brown of being clairvoyant. Perhaps his assessment of Mawae's ability felt true in 1998; it definitely didn't hold as the end of the story on Mawae's career.

In 2003, Mike Martz told T.J. Quinn of the Daily News that Mawae "does things that no other center in this league can do."

"He can pull on a linebacker that's shaded further to the side than he is and block him, which he shouldn't be able to do," Martz continued.

"He's a freak."

Quinn masterfully explained the genius behind the Jets blocking assignments during Mawae's tenure, and how they managed to confuse defenses at will:

When Mawae pulls, it is generally because the former guard has designated himself as the lead blocker when calling out the blocking scheme to his offensive line. The result is a shift in the balance of the running game, former San Francisco All-Pro center Randy Cross says.

"Instead of having a fullback blocking a linebacker, now you've got a center on a linebacker and your fullback on a corner or safety," Cross says.

Teams react to it, and several defenses the Jets have seen this season - notably the Green Bay Packers - began reacting to Mawae's movement, rather than the guards. Once the linebackers started following Mawae, the Jets were able to counter the other way for big gains.

The center established the offensive rhythm.

BY ANY MEANS

As president of the NFL Player's Association, cameras often captured Mawae in the center of this offseason's nasty labor dispute. He wasn't caught very often when he was a player doing things that earned him an intense reputation.

That's a step below calling him dirty, but a distinction that must be made for a player who "knows how much he can get away with within the rules," according to an anonymous coach speaking with Cimini in 2004.

"Sometimes he goes a little too far," the coach continued.

Early into the 2004 season, Mawae fractured his right hand in a victory against the San Diego Chargers. Then-coach Herm Edwards was mum on the details, but left room for people to speculate on Mawae's status and wonder if his streak of 157-consecutive starts was in jeopardy.

It wasn't.

Mawae returned to the field with his right hand wrapped in a cast and switched to southpaw for his ball-snapping duties. What began as a testament to his ironman toughness evolved into a running joke as analysts and fans questioned the severity of the injury weeks later.

Truthfully, it looked like Mawae was enjoying the club and using it to his advantage at every opportunity.

"The ref came up to me three or four times and said, 'I'm getting complaints,' " Mawae said after a 2004 win against Miami. "I said, 'What do you want me to do?' Don't play against me. Or I'll hide one hand behind my back."

The layers of bandages eventually came off, but Mawae's style never softened. His brand of football has a philosophy; and while he's a friendly, devout Christian off the field, Mawae's pride in his work is what made his career special to football fans.

He's the throwback player to generations ago who'd buckle his chin pad, play through pain, and do everything within his power to walk away knowing he did what was necessary.

"You either play football or you don't," Mawae told the Daily News. "Guys say I cross the line, but I've never seen my name on a list of the dirtiest players. If people take exception to the way I play, I don't care. They don't have to like it, but they'd better be ready for the way I play."

OVER IN A SNAP

To put it gently, the Jets' overall success varied widely during Mawae's tenure.

The 1998 season produced the team's best results with a 12-4 regular-season finish and a heart-breaking end in Denver for the AFC Championship Game.

Injuries devastated the team at various positions for years until Martin and Mawae suffered season-ending injuries in 2005. Martin's knees disallowed him from returning to football; Mawae's torn triceps tendon spelled the end of his career with the Jets. The future Parcells envisioned in 1998 ended.

Even without a championship, the mission was accomplished. Through Mawae, the Jets elevated from the 3-13 and 1-14 disasters of the Rich Kotite era (or error). There were bumps in the road in Mawae's seven seasons with the Jets, but hope always existed behind him. He embodied the team's competitive spirit and helped establish an identity for the Jets that still exists today.

In 2009, Mawae's successor Nick Mangold told The Jets Blog, "He really set up the center position in New York. People really know about it because of Kevin and what he was able to do."

Mangold made a seamless transition into a role Mawae defined and placed his own stamp on it, but that doesn't negate what Mawae meant for the Jets, or how people evaluate an offensive lineman.

"It was difficult coming in and having that kind of a player here before you. You have that hanging over your head," Mangold said. "But I do appreciate Kevin."

We all do.

Tags: Main Page

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The evidence is hard to refute. They jettisoned almost every recognizable veteran they had. They didn't add any significant free agents. The veteran quarterback they added is a 38-year-old journeyman. The Jets were 5-11 last season, and it's hard to argue this year won't be worse.

So yes, it sure does look like the Jets are "tanking" this season, with their eyes on the top of next year's quarterback-rich draft. They're not, of course. Tanking is almost impossible to do effectively, especially in the NFL. But they are doing a bit of scorched-Earth rebuilding and know they are in for a long, losing season.

There'll be a lot of short-term pain. And intentional or not, for the long run that's not so bad...

Tags: Charone Peake, Christian Hackenberg, Quincy Enunwa, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Mark J. Rebilas)
(Mark J. Rebilas)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Darron Lee had his ups and downs after being the Jets' first round pick last season, but the team seems compelled to proceed with the plan to build around him as one of the cornerstones of the defense. Entering his first season, everyone knew that Lee was a terrific athlete, but he still had to prove he had the instincts to play inside linebacker in a pro-style defense.

Preseason Stats: Four games, no starts, seven tackles, one sack

Tags: Darron Lee
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New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

According to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, the NFL is still reviewing an incident invovling Jets' LB Darron Lee and DE Leonard Williams from early June, reports ESPN's Rich Cimini. 

The incident occured at Governors Ball Music Festival on Randalls Island in June where Lee had to be restrained by Williams after getting into an argument with a woman. An eye witness video showed Williams getting in between his teammate, and eventually, carrying him away from the argument.

Jets' head coach Todd Bowles later indentified the woman as Lee's girlfriend, and noted that the team will not be disciplining the linebacker. However, he thinks he needs to take caution in the future. 

"You don't want that stuff to happen, obviously," Bowles said earlier on the situation. "With social media going on these days, they've got to take better care of themselves. Darron understands that. I just know, from the past, any time you go to a concert, there's going to be trouble around, just as an ex-player and as a coach. When you go to a concert, a lot of things can happen. You have to be very mindful and very aware of where you are, and your surroundings -- and handle yourself better and keep yourself out of trouble."

Tags: Darron Lee, Leonard Williams
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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (right) and wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (right) and wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Demario Davis, Darron Lee

Projected backups: Bruce Carter, Connor Harris

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin
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New York Jets punter Lachlan Edwards (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets punter Lachlan Edwards (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected specialists: Chandler Catanzaro (K), Lachlan Edwards (P), Tanner Purdum (LS), Jalin Marshall (KR/PR)

Key contributors: Rontez Miles, Josh Martin, Dylan Donahue, Juston Burris, Charone Peake

Tags: Antonio Allen, BGA, Calvin Pryor, Charone Peake, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Dexter McDougle, Jalin Marshall, Juston Burris, Loc Edwards, Nick Folk, Quincy Enunwa, Ronald Martin, Rontez Miles, Tanner Purdum
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New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) runs for a touchdown (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) runs for a touchdown (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking with the New York Post, Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa said he would not be surprised if the Jets have another struggling, losing season in 2017. 

"It's hard to argue [with] that," Enunwa said, "when everybody else sees all the stuff that's going on."

This offseason, the Jets have cut ties with many players, including receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Despite the possibility of another tough year ahead, Enunwa believes the players will still play hard when the season begins. 

Tags: Quincy Enunwa
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Former Jets QB Chad Pennington believes head coach Todd Bowles deserves the chance to turn the team around, per Brett Bonder of NY Daily News. 

If the Jets are to tank this sesaon, Pennington doesn't think it will be fair to put the blame on Bowles as he thinks he is the right guy for the job.

"My one hope for the Jets is that they give coach Bowles a chance to right the ship, don't pull everything away from him and then make him the reason why they're getting rid of him because of the lack of success," Pennington said. "He is the right guy, I think he showed that in his first year, last year wan an anomaly and this year you can see, wow, what a task he has."

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

Former Jets WR Brandon Marshall said he requested his release because he couldn't deal with the Jets not having a chance this season, per ESPN's Eric Cimini. 

Marshall was on WFAN's Boomer and Carton Show Thursday where he admitted his former team wasn't going to have a good 2017 season, and he didn't want to be a part of it.

"I wouldn't have made it through an entire season, knowing we didn't have a chance," Marshall said. 

Tags: Brandon Marshall
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 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

USC QB Sam Darnold said last week's report that he might remain in school instead of entering the 2018 NFL Draft did not come from him, but remained vague about his future.

"I don't really have many thoughts about that," the potential No. 1 pick said during an appearance on ESPN's "The Fix". "I don't think any team should tank their season because of me. I'm just taking this every day, one day at a time. That's all I can do."

"I'm looking forward to whatever lies ahead of my future," he said. "But I'm really just taking it one day at a time."

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 (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

After a solid rookie season, Jordan Jenkins is hoping to thrive in a full-time role in 2017. The 23-year old has spent part of his offseason back in Georgia, working on his pass rush techniques with pass rush guru Chuck Smith.

Preseason Stats: Two games, two starts, four tackles, no sacks, two quarterback hits.

Tags: Jordan Jenkins
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 (Kirby Lee)
(Kirby Lee)

Projected Starters: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye

Projected Back-ups: Rontez Miles

On the bubble: Shamarko Thomas, Ronald Martin, Doug Middleton, Corey White

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Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh took to Twitter to take some playful jabs at the Jets and their fans, but not before Jets defensive Muhammad Wilkerson chimed in.

Tags: Justin Pugh, Muhammad Wilkerson
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 (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
(Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Jets' plan to build a helicopter landing pad at their New Jersey training facility has drawn objections from some who question the need since an airport is just a couple of miles away.

The borough of Madison has lodged objections to the Jets' application, NJ.com reported. The borough says that there's "no demand" for a helipad so close to the Morristown Airport.

"Any purported public benefit from the availability of a helistop for emergency uses is illusive," officials wrote. The borough also argued that the pad could introduce a safety risk.

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 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Projected Starters: Wesley Johnson, Brian Winters, James Carpenter, Ben Ijalana, Kelvin Beachum

Projected Back-ups: Brandon Shell, Dakota Dozier, Brent Qvale

On the bubble: Jeff Adams, Ben Braden, Chris Bordelon, Javarius Leamon, Craig Watts, Alex Balducci, Jonotthan Harrison

Departures: Nick Mangold, Breno Giacomini, Ryan Clady

Tags: BGA
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 (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
(Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Coming out of South Carolina, Brandon Shell's size and athleticism stood out, but he also impressed with his technique in pass-protection and his discipline. He posted outstanding pass-protection numbers against some good teams and when matched up with pro prospects. That bodes well for his ability to be successful at the NFL level, although he's not the type of tackle you'd typically leave out on an island.

Preseason Stats: Four games, one start, one sack surrendered.

Tags: Brandon Shell
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New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine

Projected backups: Juston Burris, Marcus Williams, Darryl Roberts, Jeremy Clark,

Tags: Buster Skrine, Darrelle Revis, Marcus Williams
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New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Projected backups: Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Julian Howsare, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

Jets' first round pick, S Jamal Adams, has already impressed his new teammates, according to NJ.com's Connor Hughes. 

The Jets were exuberant when Adams fell to their No. 6 slot in the 2017 NFL Draft as he was the player the wanted most. Participating at OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Adams has shown his teammates, like CB Morris Claiborne, why the front office was so high on him.

"The things he has done so far?" Claiborne said. "He's unbelievable...He's been out here playing lights out. Picking up the defense, checking to different things, knowing what he wants to check to. He's having fun doing it, too. His spirit is awesome. He's having fun doing what he knows how to do, and that's football." 

Tags: Jamal Adams
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Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James (81) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr (54) after making a catch during the fourth quarter of a game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports (Mark Konezny)
Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James (81) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr (54) after making a catch during the fourth quarter of a game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports (Mark Konezny)

The Jets are interested in signing former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr, according to the New York Post.

The 25-year-old retired during the off-season due to neck and spine problems, but he is now trying to revive his career to after receiving positive news from his doctor.

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 (Brad Mills)
(Brad Mills)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Fourth round pick Juston Burris has received plenty of buzz this offseason. He's been receiving lots of first-team reps and is reportedly in the mix to start alongside Morris Claiborne. However, what does his rookie season tell us about his chances and where he needs to develop to increase his role?

Preseason Stats: Four games, one start, five tackles, seven passes defensed, one interception

Tags: Juston Burris
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New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Demario Davis, Darron Lee

Projected backups: Bruce Carter, Connor Harris

Tags: Darron Lee, David Harris, Demario Davis
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 (Eric Hartline)
(Eric Hartline)

The Jets' new linebackers coach, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, is looking to instill more aggression and power in his players, especially LB Lorenzo Mauldin.

The 25-year-old has shown spurts of potential in two seasons with the Jets, but his 2.5 sacks last season isn't the production they had expected. Greene intends to change that, and he told NJ.com's Darryl Slater why he uses this specific approach to his coaching. 

"Everybody at this level has skill, correct?" Greene said. "They'rea ll athletic, and agility and dexterity and all that stuff. Well, what separates people initially is their physical level of play. That's always our first step, is we have to play more physical than whoever is in front of us, because we're all athletic." 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson

Projected backups: Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Charone Peake, Eric Decker, Jalin Marshall, Quincy Enunwa
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Preseason Stats: 17-for-47, 159 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 1-15 rushing, one fumble

Regular Season Stats: Did Not Play

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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Part 2 of Jets mini-camp 00:02:01
SNY delivers part 2 of an all-access behind-the-scenes recap of New York Jets minicamp, including the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

Click here to watch Part 1

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Behind the scenes at Jets camp 00:01:48
SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

Read More

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jets' owner Woody Johnson as the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the team confirmed on Thursday.

In the case that Johnson is nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, he would hand over his duties as Chairman and CEO to his brother, Christopher Johnson, who will directly oversee the team's day-to-day operations.

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson says head coach Todd Bowles has been more strict than in the past, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. 

Bowles has been left with a young team following the Jets' roster purge that including veterans like C Nick Mangold and LB David Harris. With his job possibly in jeopardy, he has been putting emphasis on working harder.

"It's completely different from the last couple years," Richardson said at minicamp. "A lot more strict now. We weren't loose [in the past], but it's a lot more strict now. It's even more enforced than what it has been in the past."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning in Manhattan for his alleged role in a nightclub attack that took place on April 2, according to TMZ Sports.

Mauldin, who is also being sued in civil court, was not arrested or charged after the incident. The Jets said earlier this month that they're aware of the lawsuit but had no further comment.

An NFL spokesman told ESPN's Rich Cimini that the league is looking into the incident. 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Former Jets LB David Harris has agreed to a two-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $6.75 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Patriots offered Harris more than the Jets offered him earlier this month prior to his release, reports Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Harris visited with the Patriots on Wednesday after speaking with head coach Bill Belichick (and coaches from five other teams) earlier this week, notes Florio.

Tags: David Harris
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