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GEICO SportsNite: Jets camp 00:02:30
Jeane Coakley breaks down all the action at the Jets training camp as practice gets underway.

After inking QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new contract, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan expressed a sense of relief that the two sides came to an agreement, according to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini.  

Fitzpatrick and the Jets had gone back-and-forth for six months on a possible deal to bring back the quarterback and finally accomplished that Wednesday night.

"For a night, I felt a big sigh of relief," Maccagnan said Friday, according to Cimini. "And then it was back to work.

"The deal is done, we're very happy with it. We're happy we have Fitz back. I just want to go forward with this whole thing and get the team ready to play. We said all along we want to get Ryan back in the organization. It took a long time to get to the end, but that's what we felt comfortable with at the end."

Fitzpatrick will be paid $12 million this season, after which the contract will be voided, making him a free agent again in 2017. In 2015, he set a Jets single-season record with 31 touchdown passes. 

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith passes in front of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith passes in front of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)

Geno Smith went from starting quarterback to backup - again - the moment Ryan Fitzpatrick walked through the door - finally - with a new deal.

For the last several months, Smith was in the awkward position of technically being the starter while Fitzpatrick and the Jets were locked in a contract stalemate. On Wednesday night, Fitzpatrick changed all that by agreeing to a one-year, $12 million deal and reclaiming his job.

"I mean, I'm not disappointed," Smith said after the Jets' first training camp practice on Thursday. "I'm kind of pissed off, but it's not a detrimental thing. It's not something where I'm pissed off at anyone because we all want to be out there."

Instead, Smith will again be relegated to a backup role behind Fitzpatrick.

"That just adds fuel to the fire," Smith said, "but not in a negative way. I don't want that to become a headline or something like that because it's not what I'm trying to say. It's more as a competitor, as a quarterback, knowing what I'm capable of and really believing in myself, knowing the work that I've put in over the offseason, you know, you want to be out there.

"But you've just got to kind of play the cards that you're dealt, control what you can control and continue to get better." >> Read more

Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press

Tags: Geno Smith , Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick is back in the building, so Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are back with an all-new podcast talking about the return of the Jets quarterback and what it means moving forward. They also cover their favorite stories coming out of training camp as things get going in Florham Park.

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

@ab I've never seen you back down from a challenge. #race4pinks

A video posted by Due Season.. . (@bmarshall) on

Brandon Marshall thinks he will have more recieving yards than Steelers WR Antonio Brown this year, and he'll put an exotic vehicle on it.

Brown was second in the NFL in recieving yards last year with 1,834, only 37 behind league leader Julio Jones.

Marshall was fourth in the league in recieiving yards with 1,502, which was 332 behind Brown.

Marshall did however have more recieiving touchdowns than Brown, with 14 to Brown's 10.

Tags: Brandon Marshall

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

QB Ryan FItzpatrick, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Jets on Wednesday, opened up about the contract negotiations to Manish Mehta of the Daily News.

The deal is for one year and has a voidable second year, reports Albert Breer.

"Oh my gosh… it's been a long six months for sure," Fitzpatrick told Mehta. "The biggest feeling was relief. Just relief to have it over and done with. And then when I was driving in [Wednesday night to the team facility] and walking up to the team meeting, it was like the first day of school. I was just all excited to see everybody and to be back in the building.

"I was 10 minutes away just sitting at home getting calls and texts every day," Fitzpatrick continued. "After every practice, talking with the guys and not being allowed in the building to participate and compete with them. That made it an awfully long offseason for me. Now I'm ready to get to work."

The Jets and FItzpatrick had been at an impasse throughout the offseason, with the team eventually setting a deadline for yesterday for a contract to be agreed upon.

Fitzpatrick noted that all he wanted in terms of a contract was something "fair and reasonable" and that he believes he's getting better as a quarterback.

"I thought that it would always get done," Fitzpatrick said about the contract. "Unfortunately, we had to go through that long process to get to the end result. But I didn't have any doubts that at some point it would work itself out. … Everybody's trying to get a leg up on the bargaining table with negotiations. I thought for the most part it was good that it stayed behind closed doors.

"There was obviously that one period where they released some of the numbers on the contract," he continued. "Then all the numbers came out. There was such a he said-she said back-and-forth going on. I didn't really love that part of it. Like I said, I'm ready to go and get to work and put it all behind us. And I'm glad that it's over."

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce runs against Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)
Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce runs against Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Jets will sign veteran running back Bernard Pierce for training camp. Pierce will take Zac Stacy's spot on the 90-man roster, after Stacy, who broke his ankle last season, failed a physical and was released.

The 25-year old Pierce is listed at 6-feet, 222 pounds, and was the Baltimore Ravens' third-round pick in 2012. Pierce made an instant impact with the Ravens in a backup role that saw him rush for over 500 yards in his rookie season and over 200 more in the playoffs, including a 100-yard game in a Wild Card win over the Colts. Since his rookie year, Pierce has been a disappointment and he barely contributed at all last year after having joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. He will be suspended for the first two games of this season due to a DUI arrest last March.

Let's recap Pierce's career so far and assess some of his strengths and weaknesses.

Note: Pro Football Focus exclusively provides some stats from this article.

Who is Bernard Pierce?

Pierce already has a connection with head coach Todd Bowles, having gone to college at Temple. He set several school records, the most impressive of which saw him rush for 27 touchdowns in a breakout junior season that also saw him rush for almost 1,500 yards. After entering the draft early, Pierce raised his stock with a good performance at the scouting combine and then ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day.

As a rookie, Pierce did an excellent job backing up Ray Rice and rushed for 734 yards, including the postseason, while averaging five yards per carry. Pierce ran for 123 yards in a Week 16 win over the Giants, then 89 in the regular season finale before rushing for 103 in a first-round playoff win over the Colts. He ran for 107 yards on 27 touches in the Ravens' next three games en route to a Super Bowl victory.

Hopes were high that Pierce would be able to take on more of the load, but he had a rough second season, averaging fewer than three yards per carry. In 2014, with Rice gone and the starter role open, Pierce rushed for 96 yards in a September game, but then was again a disappointment over the rest of the season as Justin Forsett took the starting role. The Ravens cut ties with Pierce after his DUI arrest in March 2015 and Jacksonville claimed him off waivers. However, he gained just 18 yards on nine touches in the first half of the season before ending up on injured reserve with a calf injury.

The Numbers

52 games
Three starts
359 carries, 1,345 yards, five touchdowns
32 catches, 171 yards
Three tackles (including one on special teams)
One fumble lost
One fumble recovery

Based on all the footage watched, here is what Pierce brings to the table, divided into categories:

Measurables/Athleticism

Pierce has nice size, and his speed and explosiveness numbers at the combine were excellent, though his agility numbers were only average. At his pro day, he ran even faster (4.38) in the 40-yard dash, but considerably slower in both shuttle drills.

His burst and speed were instantly noticeable as a rookie when he came into the game fresh to replace the ageing Rice, but haven't been as apparent on film in recent seasons. He showed breakaway speed on a 78-yard run in his rookie season, although he was pushed out of bounds just before the goal line.

Usage

Other than a snap here and there in the slot, the Jaguars and Ravens lined Pierce up as a conventional running back.

Running Ability

Pierce displays good burst and is a decisive downhill runner. While he's not super-elusive, he has the ability to slip out of a tackle and keep his momentum going upfield. Naturally, most of his best highlights are from his rookie year, when he averaged five yards per carry (only 3.2 since). So, what happened?

Some believe he lacked preparation, although his lack of production in 2013 was partially attributable to poor offensive line play. That said, the line was much improved in 2014, but he still averaged fewer than four yards per carry.

Pierce's complete lack of production last season is alarming, but he actually made some plays in preseason that suggest he still has something left in the tank as he rushed for 86 yards on 18 carries and caught seven passes for 32 yards. That was highlighted by this spectacular play in which he emulated something he's done a few times in regular season action and hurdled a defender.

His longest run was a 41-yarder where he squeezed through a tight hole and broke into the open field. Other than that, he only averaged 2.6 yards per carry, but it's difficult to read too much into that when he was working primarily behind back-ups.

Pass Protection

Pierce isn't particularly reliable as a pass protector, and the Jaguars used him as a pass blocker just a couple of times last season. He's only been beaten for one half-sack over the course of his career -- he didn't do a very good job of anchoring his base when picking up Takeo Spikes on a blitz, allowing Spikes to roll off his block to get to the quarterback. Last season, Pierce almost gave up a sack on a play where he lined up on the left side and failed to get over quickly enough to stop a blitzer off the opposite edge.

Receiving Threat

Twenty of Pierce's 32 catches came in 2013, along with 104 of his 171 yards. All of these were screens or dump-offs close to or behind the line of scrimmage, and he was sometimes able to make plays in space. Seven of his 27 receptions in his first two seasons went for a first down, but his career average is just 5.3 yards per catch and his longest reception was just 15 yards.

The Jaguars unsuccessfully looked for Pierce once on a deep ball last year, on a play where he lined up in the slot and ran a go route against Jamie Collins. He didn't really get any kind of separation and the ball was thrown behind him. That's the only time he's been targeted downfield in NFL action.

In college, he had just 19 catches in three seasons, including just three in his junior campaign. He made a few big plays though, averaging 9.4 yards per catch.

Hands

Pierce had one drop in each of his first three seasons. While he didn't have any last year, he was only targeted five times. He had one drop in preseason, showing poor concentration on a dump-off underneath.

As noted, most of the catches Pierce made were just dump-offs, so he hasn't been able to showcase much in the way of pass-catching prowess.

Fumbles

Fumbles haven't been a major issue for Pierce, although he was benched when he fumbled in the season opener in 2014. On that play, the Ravens were on their own 20-yard line and trailing by 12 late in the first half when Pierce had the ball stripped away from him as he fell forward at the end of a run.

Pierce has also fumbled twice in preseason action, including a Luke Keuchly strip in the backfield.

Short Yardage

As expected for a player with such a high touchdown count when he was in college, Pierce is an asset in short yardage situations and has a nose for the end zone. He didn't get many of those carries with the Ravens, but five of his six touchdowns (one in postseason) came from inside the 5 with two being one-yard runs. He also had one short touchdown in a preseason game.

On such plays, he has shown an ability to move the pile or to make a good cut to find a lane to the end zone.

Special Teams

Pierce has been employed in a variety of roles over the course of his NFL career, whether blocking, covering kicks or rushing punts. He's never been a major contributor there, though, and doesn't have any real kick return experience, having fielded just one in college.

Pierce's most notorious special teams contribution came last season when he became something of a punchline by deciding to try and block an opposing player rather than tackle the punt returner. He later admitted to have been suffering from concussion-like symptoms and missed the next game.

Instincts

Pierce seems to display good instincts. His vision, whether that was bouncing a run outside, making a one-cut cutback or in the open field, was impressive. He didn't seem to have many mental errors on the field.

Injuries

Other than the concussion, which is a concern because he also had one in his junior year, Pierce had the calf injury last season to land him on injured reserve. He also had minor thigh, back, knee and ankle issues over the course of his first two seasons and was apparently troubled with nagging injuries as a college player.

Scheme Fit

Both the Ravens and Jaguars employ zone-blocking schemes, which are ideal for Pierce's one-cut style. The Jets do run plenty of inside and outside zones, so there should be a lot of plays that Pierce is familar with and which suit his skill-set.

On the whole, the Jets' blocking scheme is likely to be more varied than either of his two previous teams, so that might be a challenging adjustment for him at first.

Attitude/Demeanor

The fact Pierce was arrested for a DUI last year is an immediate concern, but I expect the Jets have reassured themselves that he's ready to commit himself fully to the upcoming season, and I doubt they've made any kind of significant financial commitment to him. Back in 2014, he was also thrown out of a nightclub along with two teammates because of a collective "inability to maintain their composure."

The only time he's been flagged for a penalty in his career was a personal foul in his rookie season. On that play, he kicked out at a defender who wouldn't let him go.

Apparently when he left Temple, the coaching staff didn't have many positive things to say about a player who had constantly battled nagging injuries and then left early for the NFL. However, Baltimore's coaches were thrilled with his attitude, and that was also the case in Jacksonville, where he was apparently a good leader and did everything that was asked of him.

Conclusions

It's no surprise to see the Jets make a roster move on the eve of training camp. They've done this in each of the last three seasons, bringing in Braylon Edwards, Jason Babin and Austin Hill. On this occasion, the move provides them with veteran cover, which could be useful with Khiry Robinson still making his way back from an injury.

When Pierce was a rookie, he looked set to become a star. Baltimore's running back coach even referred to him as a "poor man's Adrian Peterson." Unfortunately for Pierce, he has been unable to deliver on that promise and, while he's still young enough to turn things around, he's realistically facing an uphill climb to make the roster.

If Pierce has his head screwed on right, then his talent is self-evident, even if he perhaps doesn't have what it takes to be a feature back at this level. It's a long-shot, low-risk move from the Jets, with little in the way of downside. The difference between the current regime and the one that preceded it is that such moves would represent some of the main signings of the offseason under John Idzik, whereas here it's clear the current regime is just hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. They probably won't, but it's worth a shot.


GEICO SportsNite: Ray Lucas 00:02:41
SNY Jets analyst Ray Lucas calls in to discuss what the signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick means for the team entering training camp.

NEW YORK -- Fitz Magic has returned and - voila! - the Jets are heading into training camp with their starting quarterback under contract.

Finally.

The Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick agreed to terms on a one-year deal Wednesday night, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The deal, worth $12 million guaranteed and could increase to $15 million in incentives, ends months of speculation and uncertainty at the team's most vital position.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the signing. ESPN and NFL Network first reported terms of the deal.

Fitzpatrick set the franchise record with a career-high 31 touchdown passes last season while helping lead the Jets on a playoff push in Todd Bowles' first season as coach.

The well-traveled 33-year-old veteran appeared to be a certainty to re-sign in the weeks leading to the start of free agency, but Fitzpatrick and the Jets became locked in a contract stalemate over financial terms.  >>Read more at SNY.tv. . . .


Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

It's obviously good news that this ordeal is finally over and the team can properly start to focus ahead of the new season. The Jets weren't really keen on the idea of a one-year deal, but they've apparently decided to live with that rather than entrust Geno Smith with leading their team. This one-year deal practically guarantees the same kind of dilemma next year with both Fitzpatrick and Smith out of contract, but I suppose we'll be crossing that bridge when we get to it.

From the Jets' perspective, they're actually on the hook for less guaranteed money than they would have been if Fitzpatrick had accepted their original offer, so the worst-case scenario where Fitzpatrick flames out completely is actually cheaper. If Fitzpatrick does well, then the team will have a chance to try and extend him after the season but, for now, this essentially represents the dreaded "band-aid" deal.

If the deal is as reported, then the cap hit will be $12 million, which will force the Jets to restructure some contracts to create the cap space required. They are currently about $3 million short. However, it's possible they could have included a couple of dummy option years and paid part of the $12 million as a signing bonus. That would bring down the cap hit in year one, to prevent the need to make any more moves. The balance of the $12 million would be dead money next season or potentially rolled into a future extension. Either way, I'm not concerned about this as they have plenty of scope to create the cap space required.

The Jets will need to release another player to create a roster spot for Fitzpatrick, but entering camp with him in the fold should give the team a lift.


Brian Bassett, theJetsBlog.com Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

It's kind of crazy to think that Fitzpatrick and the Jets took over four months to strike a bargain. Just to give a sense of this, when Fitzpatrick was heading to free agency, I guessed that a deal worth roughly $12 million for a year would get it done with something in the $14 million range would quickly end any squabbling. In the end the $12 million the Jets supposedly were unwilling to give Fitz in early June was what it ended up taking. In other words, the terms to close this deal was the easiest guessed and worst-kept secret in football.

In the end, getting this deal done now minimizes any camp distractions for the Jets. At that price tag and based on how he played in 2015, Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned starter heading into the opener. Geno Smith will be relegated to the bench and he, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty will fight for the two roster spots.

This also makes for some happy veteran skill players who relished the chance to play with Fitzpatrick. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte are the workhorses of this offense and have to be pleased knowing that Fitzpatrick's knowledge of the offense could collectively help their seasons.

For as much as I like Fitzpatrick and credit him for the acrobatics it took for him to get this contract, I do wonder about how the season will go. Fitzpatrick had a career season for a Jets quarterback in 2015 despite a ligament injury to his non-throwing hand ... but did he catch lightning in a bottle last year?

While I respect the stability Fitz brings to this offense, I don't think anyone expects him to be the long-term answer. Fitzpatrick is the epitome of Mr. Right-Now as opposed to Mr. Right. For all the Geno Stans (as Corey calls them), if Geno can prove his mettle during training camp, he might yet see some action under center this fall.

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

 (William Hauser)
(William Hauser)

The Jets have placed Muhammad Wilkerson, Devin Smith, Khiry Robinson, James Carpenter, Breno Giacomini, and Kendall James have been placed on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the team announced.

This usually means that the player is recovering from an injury and not yet ready to practice. However, it can also mean that they failed their conditioning test, in which case it's not uncommon for the player to retake the test the following day and then be removed from the list.

In most cases, this is just a procedural move protecting the team's right to retain them on the PUP list in the event they suffer an injury or setback before they are removed from the list and attend practice.

Once you have attended a practice, there is no mechanism by which you can be placed onto (or back onto) the PUP list, although temporary injured reserve remains an alternative. Players on the PUP list can still attend meetings and work with team trainers.

It's important to note that anyone on the PUP list still counts toward the 90-man roster limit, so the Jets will not be able to make any further signings in lieu of activating these players unless they make corresponding cuts.

However, once the season begins, if you are still on the PUP list, you don't count toward the roster limit and can be activated at any time between week six and week 10. That's what happened with Stevan Ridley last season.

Tags: Breno Giacomini , Devin Smith , James Carpenter , Khiry Robinson , Muhammad Wilkerson

Darron Lee (Ohio State) after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Darron Lee (Ohio State) after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Jets and first-round pick Darron Lee have "reached an agreement" on a contract, according to Adam Schefter.

Lee's deal, as a first-round pick, will be for four years and $10.2 million, with a fifth-year option.

The holdup on Lee's deal was reportedly over guaranteed money, according to Dom Cosentino. Lee's deal is fully guaranteed, according to Ian Rapoport.

Lee, out of Ohio State University, was the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He tallied 89 total solo tackles over two season with the Buckeyes.

He had 11 sacks, three interceptions, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

Tags: Darron Lee

GEICO SportsNite: Jets camp 00:01:27
Jeane Coakley brings coverage from the Jets practice facility as the team reported to training camp for the upcoming season.

Jets players reported to training camp on Wednesday. Here's what some of the players had to say…

--Nick Mangold said he is feeling "great." Mangold spoke to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Tuesday, he said, but didn't talk about "business," just family.

--Matt Forte said that the Jets "expect to be in the playoffs" and that he was impressed by Geno Smith's decision-making and accuracy this offseason.

--Marcus Gilchrist said that the "sky's the limit" for the Jets defense.

--Erin Henderson said the Jets "for sure" have enough talent to make the playoffs.

--David Harris said that Tom Brady's suspension "has nothing to do with us."

The players all deferred to Todd Bowles on Fitzpatrick questions.

"All questions about [Fitz] is for Coach Bowles. They told me to tell y'all that," Forte said.

Tags: David Harris , Erin Henderson , Marcus Gilchrist , Matt Forte , Nick Mangold

 (Jason Bridge)
(Jason Bridge)

The Jets are adding former Ravens and Jaguars RB Bernard Pierce, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

The team will reportedly waive RB Zac Stacy due to a failed physical, according to Adam Caplan.

In seven games with the Jaguars last season, Pierce ran the ball only six times for 11 yards, and added three receptions for seven yards. 

If Pierce makes the Jets' roster, he won't be with the team for the first two weeks of the regular season. In May, the NFL handed Pierce a two-game suspension due to a guilty plea for a DUI while playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

In three seasons with Baltimore, Pierce had 353 carries for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns. He added 29 receptions for 164 yards.


Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in January 2013, rookie running back Bernard Pierce was a key contributor down the stretch in a change-of-pace role. He even rushed for over 100 yards in one of their playoff games. However, since that time, he has been disappointing. He averaged less than three yards per carry in the 2013 season and, after a promising start, wasn't much better in 2014. He ended up with the Jaguars last year and barely contributed at all.

Pierce will be suspended for the first two games of the season because of a DUI, so the Jets will get an extended chance to see if he can be a reclamation project. If he shows promise, they can retain him until week three without using up a roster spot or having to pay him a gameday salary before making the decision whether to activate him or cut him loose.  

With Bilal Powell, Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson under contract, the top three spots appear to be locked down. However, if there's an injury or something, it would be useful to have some veteran cover, especially with Robinson coming off an injury of his own.

Tags: Zac Stacy

Playing chicken with Fitzpatrick 00:03:00
The Daily News Live panel discusses the ongoing contract saga between Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Latest Update

The Jets report to training camp on Wednesday and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be in attendance. The two sides aren't close to a deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Though Jason La Canfora suggests that the standoff might end "sooner rather than later."

Previous Reports

The Jets have multiple contract offers out for Fitzpatrick to choose from, reports Manish Mehta of the Daily News.

It was reported last week by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that the Jets and Fitzpatrick haven't spoken in over a month.

Fitzpatrick has been in a contract dispute with the Jets all offseason. He set the franchise record for touchdowns in a season last year and led the team to their first season with double-digit wins since 2010.

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall has said that Fitzpatrick has stopped responding to his text messages, and head coach Todd Bowles is preparing for a season with Geno Smith as the starting quarterback.

The Jets have also recently cleared over $5 million in cap space for this season by signing defensive lineman Muhammed Wilkerson. There is no set deadline for when Fitzpatrick must sign in order to rejoin the team, according to coach Todd Bowles, who has said the team is capable of moving forward without him.

"There is a ticking clock," Bowles said in June. "You have time until you don't have time."

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

A general view of MetLife Stadium (Danny Wild/USA Today Sports Images)
A general view of MetLife Stadium (Danny Wild/USA Today Sports Images)

The NFL and the players association have announced a new policy regarding game-day concussion protocol and discipline for clubs that violate the procedure.

Under the new policy jointly announced Monday, the NFL and NFLPA "will follow a strict and fair process to investigate incidents and determine appropriate discipline, including club fines and possible forfeiture of draft picks."

The league and the players union will each designate a representative to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations. The probe won't reach medical conclusions; it will only determine if the protocol was followed. An arbitrator will handle cases where the league and union disagree and report to the commissioner.

Commissioner Roger Goodell retains sole discretion in determining penalties for violations of the game-day concussion protocol.

A first breach will require club employees or medical team members involved to attend remedial education and/or result in a maximum $150,000 fine against the team. Clubs will be fined a minimum $100,000 for subsequent violations.

There are additional penalties if the violation involves aggravating circumstances, and the commissioner may impose more severe financial penalties and require clubs to forfeit draft picks if it's determined that a club's medical team ignored protocol for competitive reasons. >> Read more

Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press


Darron Lee (Ohio State) after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Darron Lee (Ohio State) after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski)

Jets training camp begins in three days, yet first-round LB Darron Lee still has not signed his rookie contract, making him one of only three first-round draft picks who have yet to sign.

The sticking point appears to be the fourth-year guarantee. Players chosen in the first round from picks one through 19 receive fully guaranteed salaries in their fourth year. Lee undoubtedly wants his fourth-year (about $1.8 million) guaranteed. However, the rookie linebacker was selected with the 20th overall pick, meaning the Jets do not have to fully guarantee his fourth year.

The Houston Texans gave 21st overall pick Will Fuller a fully guaranteed $1.836 million, according to ESPN. Fuller is represented by CAA's Todd France, who also represents Lee and wants the same deal for the Jets rookie.

Yet the Washington Redskins gave 22nd overall pick Josh Doctson only a partial guarantee ($1.2 million of $1.8 million), as did the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 with 20th overall pick Nelson Agholor ($1.1 million of $1.7 million). 

Essentially, the Jets and Lee's reps are battling over $600,000.

When Lee does eventually sign, it will be a four-year, $10.2 million deal, plus a fifth-year team option.


Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett welcome back the podcast as the Jets welcome back Muhammad Wilkerson

They break down his new contract, the future of the defensive line, and also reveal their Top 10 List of the most ridiculous storylines to come out of the ridiculous Ryan Fitzpatrick story.

E-Mail us with feedback, comments, or questions for a future show: thejetsblogpodcast@gmail.com

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson , Ryan Fitzpatrick

Chris Ivory (33) runs with the ball In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. (William Hauser)
Chris Ivory (33) runs with the ball In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. (William Hauser)

Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Zach Sudfeld, Ben Ijalana, Bilal Powell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Kellen Davis, Erin Henderson), they chose not to bring everyone back. We'll be keeping track of anyone from the Jets 2015 regular season roster, injured reserve list or practice squad that have since signed with another NFL team, along with anyone that had been on the 2016 roster at any point. Before training camp gets underway, let's run through the players that have moved so far.

Some stats from PFF have been used in this article and throughout the series. 

DE Quinton Coples - Los Angeles Rams
Coples produced quite well in a rotational role down the stretch with Miami, but they were never likely to be able to afford to retain him on his fifth-year option. The Rams signed him once he was released, but they have a top-level defensive line, so Coples will likely have to fight for a back-up role initially. It was obvious he wasn't a fit with the current coaching staff and whether that was for scheme-related reasons or something to do with his personality is unclear.

CB Jeremy Harris - Washington
Harris signed with Washington following a three-week stint on the Jets' practice squad. He saw plenty of action in the season finale with Washington and made a good impression, so he could have a realistic chance of cracking their full-time rotation.

NT Damon Harrison - New York Giants

Harrison will be particular fascinating to keep track of, for two main reasons. First of all, it could give us some clues as to whether his presence made the rest of the defensive line players better because he was taking on a lot of double teams or was it actually the other way around and he was benefiting from their double teams allowing him to be single-blocked more often than most nose tackles. Secondly, he is expected to be given a slightly different role, which will require him to rely on his quickness more and test his pass rush abilities.

RB Chris Ivory - Jacksonville

Ivory signed a $32 million contract with the Jags, while the Jets replaced him with a multi-time pro bowler in Matt Forte for the bargain price of just $12 million. Is Ivory going to emulate or improve upon his production with the Jets? If he could improve his consistency then maybe he will live up to some of the "best back in the NFL" type chatter he was starting to get early on in the 2015 season. On the other side of the coin, whether Forte can be as productive as he was running behind the Jets' line will be interesting to analyze.

RB/KR Shane Wynn - Jacksonville

Wynn, a return specialist, spent two weeks on the Jets' practice squad in November and still had time to spend time in San Diego and New Orleans before the season was over. He signed with the Jags for this season as he is still seeking to find a home.

P Ryan Quigley - Philadelphia/Jacksonville

Quigley actually had some of the better numbers in team history during his tenure with the Jets. His tendency to shank punts at key moments or early on in big games did little to win over Jets fans, though. The Eagles signed him in April, only to cut him again the following month. He did get a deal with the Jags last month though.

LB Demario Davis - Cleveland

Davis needed a change of scenery after a 2015 season which saw him make several costly blunders, especially in coverage. Davis was always going to have value in the free agent market with his experience of playing a three-down role, but never quite showed the instincts required to develop into a reliable contributor. Still, he fared well in a part-time role down the stretch, so perhaps he will do well with the Browns if they use him the same way.

TE Jeff Cumberland - San Diego

Cumberland's playing time and production fell off a cliff last season, as the Jets' tight ends weren't a major part of their passing game and he only caught five passes on 13 targets. The Jets only targeted Cumberland once after midseason. He had proven capable of achieving modest production in the past, so if the Chargers give him some chances, perhaps he will prove to be good value on a low-cost deal.

CB Darrin Walls - Detroit

Another defensive back heading out is Walls, who was a solid contributor over the last four seasons. Walls started 16 games as a Jet, including 12 in 2014, but didn't play much last season and probably won't be viewed as a major loss. He could fare quite well with the Lions though as he competes for a role with them.

WR Jeremy Kerley - Detroit
Another player in desperate need of a change of scenery, Kerley was productive when the Jets used him on offense last year. That just wasn't very often - although he was still the full time punt returner. He should be a better fit in Detroit's offense, but let's not forget he struggled in 2014 too, so he's now three years removed from the level of play that had earned him an extension with the Jets.

RB Stevan Ridley - Detroit

Ridley's 2015 campaign was a bust, as he obviously never got back to 100% coming off a serious knee injury. He did show some mild promise in the last two games, gaining 65 yards on 16 carries in those two games, having entered the game with just 25 yards on 20 carries. 

DL Quanterus Smith - Detroit
Smith spent three weeks on the Jets' practice squad last season and then moved on to spend time with the Jaguars. The Lions signed him earlier this week. You'll notice plenty of ex-Jets over in Detroit. As with Buffalo (Ryan) and Jacksonville (John Idzik), there's a Jets connection there. Former Jets director of pro personnel Brendan Prophett recently became the Lions' director of pro scouting, following a couple of years with the Saints.

DL Lawrence Okoye - Dallas

Okoye was on the Jets' practice squad last year and they signed him to a futures deal after the season. However, he was released early on in this year's offseason program. The British-born Olympian Okoye will always be a tantalizing athletic prospect but likely remains too raw and inexperienced to have an NFL future.

DL Leger Douzable - Buffalo

It took a while but Douzable eventually was reunited with Rex Ryan when the Bills signed him last month. Last season, Douzable was a starter and full-time player while Sheldon Richardson was out, but otherwise had a rotational role. Like Walls, he was a bargain pick-up that gave the Jets a few years of solid depth and occasional starter-level contributions.

LB Jamari Lattimore - Buffalo

Lattimore was employed situationally in some coverage packages last year, to negligible effect. He should get more of a chance to get in the mix for a role with the Bills.

WR/KR Walt Powell - Buffalo

Powell played briefly in the season finale against the Jets last year after spending time with the Jets, Raiders and Bills during the regular season. He'll be an interesting player to keep tabs on as the Jets seek to fill the return specialist spot themselves.

DT TJ Barnes - Buffalo
Ryan was quick to pounce once the Jets exposed Barnes to waivers last season and apparently they are toying with the idea of converting him to left tackle. Last season, Barnes played 32 snaps with the Jets in six games and then played another 26 snaps in four games with the Bills.

RB/KR Dri Archer - Buffalo

Archer was one of the first players cut by the Jets this offseason, after they had signed him to a futures deal. He was claimed by the Bills, but apparently no-showed so he's now on a "did not report" list. I don't expect he'll be with them for very long.

DB Antonio Allen - Houston

Allen, who might have struggled to make the final roster anyway, spent last year on the Jets' injured reserve list. The Texans are giving him a shot at resurrecting his career, but it's uncertain what kind of role they have earmarked for him yet.

OL Oday Aboushi - Houston

It seems like a long time ago that the Jets cut ties with Aboushi, but he was actually with the team at the start of last season. They opted to release him as soon as he had served his one game suspension. Aboushi got a starting opportunity with the Texans and initially did quite well, but then struggled and lost his job. He's a long-shot to contend for a starting role this year and might not even make the team.

DL Jordan Williams - Miami

Williams spent a short time on the Jets' practice squad last season, but ended up in Miami where he would earn a promotion to the active roster and see a handful of snaps on defense. It bodes well for Deon Simon that Williams has done quite well so far, because Simon outplayed him on the third unit last year in preseason.

TE Jerome Cunningham - Tennessee

Cunningham was only with the Jets for a few days before they released him again and the Titans claimed him off waivers.

ST Coordinator Bobby April - Tennessee

April was one of three coaches fired after the season, but he was soon able to find another job in the same role with the Titans. He apparently failed to connect with and motivate his players last season, which new coordinator Brant Boyer will be seeking to ensure doesn't happen again. It will be interesting to compare Boyer's unit with the one in Tennessee, because the personnel on last year's roster was at least partly to blame in April's unit doing so poorly.

Unrestricted Free Agents still unsigned: OL Willie Colon, K Randy Bullock, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, OLB Calvin Pace, WR Chris Owusu

This list is supposed to be exhaustive, but if you spot any omissions or inaccuracies, please let us know in the comments.


Key players for Jets and Giants 00:02:13
Jon Hein and Chris Carlin debate which players are most important for the Jets and Giants to be successful in the upcoming 2016 season.

Coming off a 10-6 season that saw them miss the playoffs, Jets fans are wondering which player can make an impact to send them to the postseason in 2016. The guys from Loud Mouths debate who will make the biggest difference for New York next year.

Chris Carlin thinks the biggest X-factor on the Jets is new running back Matt Forte. Forte is 30-years-old and entering his ninth season. He most recently made the Pro Bowl in 2013, and rushed for under 1,000 yards (898) and 400 yards receiving (389) last season.

Forte signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Jets.                 

However, Jon Hein believes the offensive line as a unit will be the biggest difference.

Analytics website Pro Football Focus have the Jets ranked as the No. 26 best offensive line in football last year, with the No. 22 best pass blocking rating and No. 25 run blocking ranking.

Tags: Matt Forte

GEICO SportsNite: Wilkerson deal 00:00:45
Muhammad Wilkerson vows to be ready for Week 1 after getting a deal done with the New York Jets.

Muhammed Wilkerson has the contract extension he sought, he is ready and focused to return to the Jets.

"Now that's over with, I can just focus on football and get back in the locker room with my teammates and continue to be the leader that I am for this team," Wilkerson said to reporters on a conference call.

Wilkerson led the Jets in sacks last year with 12, also forcing two fumbles and making 69 combined tackles en route to a Pro Bowl season. The defensive lineman was given a franchise tag by the Jets to keep him under team control for another year at league-set price, something Wilkerson found unacceptable.

It looked like the Jets would be without one of the keystones of their defensive line until July 15, when the team announced they had signed the player to a five-year, $86 million deal.

Wilkerson is also happy to rejoin the Jets not just to play football, but also for personal reasons.

"I definitely wanted to be here," Wilkerson said. "I'm from New Jersey. I'm from here. My family's here. I wanted to raise my children here. So I'm very excited to be back here."

The number one priority for Wilkerson is now to focus on continuing his rehab for a leg fracture he sustained in the last game of the season against the Bills.

Wilkerson said that he is now running four times a week and is taking the rehab day-by-day, unsure of when he will be able to participate in Jets preseason camp. However, he has said he will be available and ready to play Week One of the season September 11 against the Bengals.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

Should the Jets walk the line? 00:02:28
The DNL crew discusses if the New York Jets need to set a hard deadline for Ryan Fitzpatrick to sign a new deal before training camp.

Brandon Marshall has not heard from Ryan Fitzpatrick in weeks, according to an interview he gave to Michael Rapaport on his "I Am Rapaport" podcast.

Marshall, who is said to frequently communicate with the free agent quarterback, says he hasn't heard from Fitzpatrick in weeks and at this point, he's nervous.

"It's not like him," said Marshall. "It's scaring me right now. It's scaring me that my guy hasn't texted me back."

Fitzpatrick, who set the Jets franchise record for touchdowns in a single season last year with 31, remains a free agent as the two sides have reached a stalemate in contract discussions. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, contract talks between the two parties could drag on into the preseason.

Head coach Todd Bowles has expressed interest in bringing back Fitzpatrick but has also said he's tired of talking about Fitzpatrick and will proceed with the season without him.

"There is a ticking clock," Bowles said in June. "You have time until you don't have time."

Tags: Brandon Marshall , Ryan Fitzpatrick

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Titans 30-8. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Titans 30-8. (Brad Penner)

The contract negotiations between the New York Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick could go on into the preseason, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Fitzpatrick remains a free agent as the Jets report for training camp next Wednesday. New York and Fitzpatrick are still at a contract stalemate in which Fitzpatrick reportedly wants a one-year deal worth $12 million or a contract comparable to that of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with $37 million guaranteed. 

The Jets, meanwhile, are not interested in that offer and have offered him a three-year deal worth $24 million ($15 million guaranteed) with incentives that can make the contract worth $36 million.

New York, which currently has Geno Smith atop the quarterback depth chart, has left Fitzpatrick's locker vacant in case the two sides come to terms, however Rapoport said talks can drag on into the preseason.

"There has been really no movement from either side, everybody is dug in," Rapoport said on Monday. "So it certainly could be within the realm of possibility that we have to see not just a little bit of Geno Smith, like maybe a couple reps in OTAs or mini camp, but a lot of Geno Smith, maybe even into preseason games, for there to be some sort of movement here between the Jets and Fitzpatrick, so expect to be having this conversation a few more times."

Fitzpatrick, 33, led the Jets to 10 wins last season, throwing for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He has expressed his desire to return to the team earlier this offseason

New York's first preseason game is Aug. 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Jets open the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 11.

 

Tags: Geno Smith , Ryan Fitzpatrick

Playing chicken with Fitzpatrick 00:03:00
The Daily News Live panel discusses the ongoing contract saga between Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

New York Jets defensive tackle Deon Simon (Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets defensive tackle Deon Simon (Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports Images)

Between now and training camp, we've been looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess their potential contributions to the team in 2016. Today, we're going to share the first part of a two-part look at the six players still with the team who were part of last year's rookie class but have yet to make their NFL debut. Which, if any, of these players can we expect to make contributions this season?

Part one saw us take a look at the three offensive players that fit into this category; Quarterback Bryce Petty, offensive lineman Jarvis Harrison and fullback Julian Howsare. Here in part two, we'll look at the three defensive players; defensive lineman Deon Simon and linebackers Deion Barnes and Taiwan Jones

In between now and training camp, we've been looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. Today we're going to share the second part of a two-part look at the six players still with the team who were part of last year's rookie class but who have yet to make their NFL debut. Which, if any, of these players can we expect to make contributions this season?

Part one saw us take a look at the three offensive players that fit into this category; Quarterback Bryce Petty, offensive lineman Jarvis Harrison and fullback Julian Howsare. Here in part two, we'll look at the three defensive players; defensive lineman Deon Simon and linebackers Deion Barnes and Taiwan Jones.

Simon

Simon was the only player of these three that the Jets drafted last year (in the seventh round). He began the year on the active roster, but was never activated. Simon was waived at the end of September and put on the practice squad for the rest of the season. He signed a futures deal after the season.

Simon saw plenty of playing time in the preseason, mostly paired with undrafted rookies Davon Walls and Jordan Williams. He was easily the most impressive of the three. While Walls has not been with a team since, Williams signed with Miami and even got some regular season playing time with them.

Simon showed a knack for coming up with big plays, recording 1.5 sacks, a pass break-up, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. However, the sacks were of the cheap coverage clean-up variety. He recorded one other pressure, showing off his athleticism on a stunt.

It's against the run where he needs to show more, and Simon made some encouraging progress there. In the first game, he was blocked to the ground on a short yardage play and then wasn't able to get across laterally fast enough to prevent a runner from getting to the hole. In the next game, while he was still pushed around at times, he showed an improved ability to penetrate, shed blocks and move well laterally, as he was able to bottle up a couple of runs. If Simon is going to emulate Damon Harrison, who signed with the New York Giants in the offseason, he'll need to improve his consistency because he was blocked out of plays at times, whereas that rarely happened to Harrison even against starters. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging start from him.

Known Mike Maccagnan confidante Charley Casserly said Jets fans need to look out for Simon, comparing him to Harrison.

Barnes

Barnes was an unheralded free-agent signing after going unselected in last year's draft. However, he was the only player on the team to spend the entire regular season on the practice squad.

Barnes had an impressive preseason with 1.5 sacks, which was tied for the team lead with three other Jets including Simon. Trevor Reilly was the only player to record more pressure than Barnes in preseason and he missed a tackle in the pocket in the last game which would have given him the team lead with 2.5 sacks.

Despite his success as a pass rusher, it was against the run where he was surprisingly at his most effective. Barnes displayed a good ability to get good leverage and penetrate. He was able to make stops by holding his ground at the point of attack and by stretching a run out to the sideline, and also had one outstanding play in which he blew up a run at the goal line.

While he fared well against backups, there was a reminder of how far he has to go in the Giants game. He was called upon for just one snap with the first unit and it did not go well, as wide receiver Dwayne Harris easily drove him off the line on the left side:

In the previous installment, I linked to an article by ESPN New York's Rich Cimini in which he named his risers and fallers from mini-camp. Barnes was one of his risers. Linebackers coach Mark Collins also named Barnes as the one player at any position who had made the biggest improvement since last year.

Jones

Jones was another undrafted rookie, but he was the only one of these three to end the season on the active roster. Jones was promoted when wide receiver Devin Smith injured his knee in mid-December, but was kept inactive down the stretch.

In preseason, Jones was quiet over the first three games, but did get in on one stop in each game, including one where he was unblocked and made a tackle in the backfield. He really flashed in the last game, though, making four stops against the run and one in coverage, as well as a big hit down the field. Coverage might be a concern for Jones, who ran a 4.9 40-yard dash at his combine and pro day workouts last season, but he only gave up two catches for 17 yards. He also helped his case by getting in on three special teams tackles.

Jones has also received some positive offseason buzz, as draft insider Tony Pauline reporting that the team sees him as a potential future replacement for David Harris.

Conclusions

Unlike with the three offensive players we looked at, there's been a positive buzz about all three of these players. There's potentially room at the back end of the roster for all three of them with the chance they could exceed expectations even further to earn an even more significant role.

I look upon Simon as having the best chance. While there isn't much roster space on the defensive line, Steve McLendon is the only other natural nose tackle the team has. The Jets brought in three undrafted defensive linemen, but they all seem more likely to be longer-term projects than immediate competition. Perhaps Simon could make a push to split time with McLendon and possibly even start over him within a year.

Barnes is in a group of players with a chance at a backup outside linebacker role. While I assume the current plan is for Lorenzo Mauldin and Jordan Jenkins to eventually be the two players atop the depth chart, Barnes will compete with the likes of Reilly and Freddie Bishop for time. He might even have an outside chance at starting off ahead of Jenkins if he's more NFL-ready than the rookie.

Finally, while Harris might not need a replacement for another year or two, if Jones can lock down that fourth inside linebacker spot and start earning some playing time, that will be a positive step ahead of next year. With Erin Henderson and Darron Lee expected to battle for the spot alongside Harris, Jones' most obvious competition for that role is likely to be Bruce Carter, who is only on a one-year deal.

There are not many recent examples of players following this inactive as a rookie-to-contributor in year two path with the Jets. The only one from last year was Dexter McDougle, who almost certainly would have played as a rookie had he not suffered a season-ending injury.

While it's good to see players developing and unexpected contributors emerging to provide the team with valuable low-cost depth, it's perhaps disappointing the strength here is on the defensive side of the ball when there is arguably more of a need on offense. However, there are plenty of other young offensive prospects on the team, so it will be interesting to see who steps up.

Tags: David Harris , Deion Barnes , Deon Simon , Erin Henderson , Lorenzo Mauldin , Taiwan Jones , Trevor Reilly

Colon on resigning Wilkerson 00:03:50
Willie Colon phones into Daily News Live to discuss the Jets resigning Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal.

Former Jet Willie Colon was "extremely surprised" at the Jets re-signing Muhammad Wilkerson, having anticipated that the Jets defensive linemen was going to sit out the season given reports of his contract dispute with the Jets.

Colon said that the signing was good for the Jets, not just from a playing standpoint but to "kill the white elephant in the room" and get rid of a distraction before training camp.

Wilkerson is coming off a Pro Bowl season for the Jets where he made 64 total tackes and led the team in sacks with 12.

The Jets signed Wilkerson to a five-year deal worth $86 million dollars on July 15.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

Between now and training camp, we've been looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess their potential contributions to the team in 2016. Today, we're going to share the first part of a two-part look at the six players still with the team who were part of last year's rookie class but have yet to make their NFL debut. Which, if any, of these players can we expect to make contributions this season?

We'll start today with a look at the three offensive players that fit into this category: Quarterback Bryce Petty, offensive lineman Jarvis Harrison and fullback Julian Howsare. In part two, we'll look at the three defensive players: Defensive lineman Deon Simon and linebackers Deion Barnes and Taiwan Jones.

Petty

Petty was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft, but most people projected he'd be at least a year, if not more, away from contributing. Petty had an excellent senior year at Baylor, but their offense is a college-style spread. Reports indicated there was a big learning curve for Petty in terms of learning pro-style concepts and terminology, but he was regarded as having an NFL arm and good mobility.

While he never saw action, Petty spent the entire 2015 season on the Jets' active roster and suited up a couple of times, however he was inactive for most of the season. He was active in the first two weeks as the No. 2 quarterback and also in Week 3, as the Jets had three quarterbacks active following the return of Geno Smith from injury.

My fear for Petty was he would be seriously out of his depth in preseason, but he actually put together some solid numbers, led the team on some scoring drives and had some nice moments. His final numbers -- 27-of-45 for 270 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions -- were perfectly respectable, although they perhaps don't tell the full story.

In his first appearance, the Jets kept things very simple for Petty, who completed 10 of 18 passes for 50 yards. The next game saw him air it out a little more and he made some nice throws, including his first touchdown pass and a deep connection with Saalim Hakim. In his final game, he didn't get many chances to throw, but showed good chemistry with DeVier Posey, connecting with him four times including a 24-yard deep crosser that accounted for over half of his yards. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see him in the Bollinger Bowl because the Jets were deciding whether to retain Matt Flynn or Josh Johnson, and had resolved to share all the reps between them.

Despite his modest success, each of Petty's performances had a few shaky moments. He had a couple of risky throws that were almost intercepted, lost a fumble and missed a few throws in each game. He also had issues with throwing late, failing to put enough touch on short passes and one occasion when he was sacked because he was oblivious to an unblocked rusher off the edge.

While there were a lot of things to nit-pick, one positive thing from Petty's performances was he wasn't making the same kinds of mistakes over and over again. Then again, this means he has lots of different areas in which he needs to be more consistent. It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of progress he's made based on how he performs in camp and preseason.

When the Jets drafted another raw quarterback in Christian Hackenberg in the second round this year, some people took this to be a bad sign for Petty's future. That's not necessarily the case because Petty was always viewed as a bit of a long shot with developmental potential, and that probably hasn't changed over the last 12 months. However, even though he's the No. 3 right now, it's probably fair to say that he has as much chance of being off the 53-man roster altogether as he does of seeing any action this season. He, like each of the players we'll be considering here, is still fully practice squad eligible.

Signs so far this offseason have not been particularly promising. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini named him as one of his "fallers" in an article about the risers and fallers at mini-camp.

Harrison

Harrison was a fifth-round pick last year and began the season on the active roster. Eventually the Jets had to waive him because they were short on safeties, so needed a roster spot for Rontez Miles. Harrison cleared waivers and the Jets were able to sign him to their practice squad for the rest of the season and to a futures deal once the season ended.

Harrison's preseason campaign basically saw him pitted directly against Dakota Dozier. The pair played at guard on the third unit, with Harrison on the right side. It was interesting to compare them because Dozier was just about able to handle his assignments most of the time while not necessarily looking smooth or in control. Harrison, on the other hand, really looked the part when he got everything right, but was more prone to mistakes than Dozier.

Harrison showed an ability to pull or get out in front of a screen and to drive his man out of the play at the second level. However, there were times when he seemed unsure of his assignment and allowed his man to shoot a gap or get off his block to blow up a run. He didn't give up any pressure, and while it's a small sample size and against backups, that is definitely a positive sign.

On the play below, Harrison (wearing No. 64) does a good job of getting a surge to help Daryl Richardson get into the end zone. However, he perhaps doesn't finish the play as well as he might have:

Recent history perhaps bodes well for Harrison in that there have been some recent offensive linemen that didn't play as rookies, then started getting some playing time in their second season. Dozier saw his first action last year after having been stashed on the active roster throughout the 2014 season, and Oday Aboushi, a mid-round pick like Dozier and Harrison, started during the second half of his second season after also being a perpetual healthy scratch as a rookie.

The difference with Harrison was the team eventually exposed him to waivers and risked losing him by placing him on the practice squad. Maybe that means they weren't as high on him, although there was a serious need for roster room at the time due to injuries and protecting his rights by having him use up a spot was obviously a luxury they were prepared to forego. Brent Qvale, however, spent his entire rookie year on the practice squad before becoming a contributor last year, so Harrison is still potentially on a similar path.

Cimini named Harrison as one of his mini-camp "fallers" in the aforementioned article. Apparently he had been getting some work at right tackle and struggled in pass protection. With most of his work so far having been at guard, it's possible that was geared towards emergency duties rather than a permanent change though.

Howsare

Howsare was an undrafted free agent defensive end and special teamer out of Clarion. The Jets opted to convert him to fullback in training camp, and he backed up Tommy Bohanon throughout preseason. He was added to the practice squad after not making the roster. However, unlike the other five players we're focusing on here, the Jets didn't retain his rights all season. They released him from the practice squad for a three-week period in the middle of the season before re-signing him to the squad for the rest of the year and then giving him a futures deal after the season.

Over the course of preseason, Howsare made encouraging progress. He didn't do much to stand out in the first couple of games, but made no obvious mistakes either and even caught a short pass out of the slot. In his third game, he made a good driving lead block on a short yardage play and in the final game, his consistency in terms of locating, locking onto and staying with his blocks was impressive and contributed to a 200-yard rushing day for the team.

Scroll back up to the gif above and you'll see how easily he drives his man out of the play, albeit away from the direction of the run.

Of course, that was all against backups, but with a year to prepare himself both physically and mentally for the role this time instead of a mid-camp transition, hopefully he can build on that progress.

It's understandable Howsare hasn't received much buzz this offseason since fullback is a position in which it's difficult to make an impact before the pads go on. From what we hear, Howsare is hopeful he'll get a chance to beat out Bohanon this season as long as the Jets opt to carry a full-time fullback on the roster. If he's continued to develop at the same rate he did last year, that's a possibility.

Conclusions

Of these three, Howsare has received the least fanfare, but he arguably has the best chance of becoming a contributor based on who is ahead of him. Even something as simple as a Bohanon injury could effectively hand him the No. 1 fullback spot, although he'd likely have to defend it against any other candidates whom the Jets bring in. While the fullback position isn't a major role within the Jets' offense right now, they did have a use for Bohanon against certain opponents.

As for Petty and Harrison, they were both considered projects and, as such, may never make it. Some draft experts regarded Harrison as a player with potential pro bowl level talent, but he had issues related to things like work ethic and attitude. If he can keep working hard, then perhaps he can deliver on his potential, but he has several players ahead of him in the battle for a spot. Petty, who has all the tools but lacks experience in a pro-style system, still seems like a long shot, and some believe he won't be with the team much longer. However, if he's progressed at all since last year, then he'll likely get more time to keep developing, whether with the Jets or another team.

Be sure to check in for part two where we look in more detail at the potential defensive debutants. 

Tags: Brent Qvale , Bryce Petty , Dakota Dozier , Geno Smith , Jarvis Harrison , Julian Howsare , Tommy Bohanon

New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) reacts to the crowd in the second half of the Jets 38-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)
New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) reacts to the crowd in the second half of the Jets 38-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)

In between now and training camp, we've been looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. We're going to take a slight detour from that path today, to discuss the implications of the contract extension for Muhammad Wilkerson, announced yesterday.

The contract extension took everyone by surprise, even Wilkerson himself according to some accounts. Did something change to precipitate a deal? Was it a fair deal? What does this mean for the rest of the roster going forward? We'll be considering these questions and more.

The basics

Basic parameters for the contract have gradually leaked out, although the full details have yet to be finalized and there have been a couple of conflicting reports.

However, from the information shared online by the likes of Ian Rapoport, Benjamin Allbright, Dan Graziano, Adam Schefter and perhaps others, we can determine or deduce the following:

1. It's a five-year deal. Wilkerson apparently wanted six.

2. The full value of the deal is $86 million. That may or may not be rounded to the nearest million, and also I am assuming there are no incentives or escalators included in or on top of that sum.

3. The signing bonus was reported as $15 million, which would be paid upfront but prorated over the five years in terms of the annual cap charges.

4. Full guarantees were reported as either $36.5 million or $37 million. My assumption would be that there is a $250K workout bonus in each of the first two years, which isn't strictly speaking fully guaranteed, but would commonly be treated as such because all you have to do is show up to earn it.

5. Injury guarantees have been reported as $53.5 million. Based on recent contracts issued by the Jets, it's a fair assumption that the reported $37 million of (essentially) full guarantees will correspond to the compensation over the first two years and the balance of the injury guarantee -- which might even crystallize into a full guarantee at some point early in the third season -- will be his salary in year three.

6. If all the above is correct, there would be $32 million payable over the last two years, with no guarantees. By that point, barring any restructures, the dead money for a year-four cut would be $6 million and for year five would be $3 million. However, restructures may happen, as I'll expand upon later.

7. The year-one cap hit has dropped significantly but there are conflicting reports on the exact amount saved. Allbright said it was "about $5 million", Graziano said it reduced the cap hit to $10 million (which would be a $5.7 million saving) and an NJ.com sourced report said the cap hit had been approximately halved (which would be a saving of closer to $8 million).   As we know, he's receiving a $15 million signing bonus. If we split the difference and assume a cap saving of $6 million, then that would correspond to salary/other bonuses of about $7 million in 2016.

8. The above assumptions would entitle Wilkerson to receive the following cash sums, year on year, if he remains on the contract. Year one: $22 million. Year two: $15 million. Year three: $17m. Year four/five: $32 million combined.

9. The above cash sums, barring a restructure, would give rise to the following approximate cap hits. Year one: $10 million. Year two: $18 million. Year three: $20 million. Year four and five: $38 million combined.

10. If the above is mostly accurate or close to it, then the Jets will have $9 million of current cap space. This could be as high as $11 million if the NJ.com source is accurate.

The overriding assumption here is that this contract has a similar structure to those already issued by the Jets in recent years, including the deal for Darrelle Revis. Here's another good breakdown, which arrives at basically the same conclusion

What we can say about the size of the deal is that it seems to fit in with other top defensive line contracts over the past year or so. Looking at the deals for Fletcher Cox and Marcell Dareus, we can see that Wilkerson had the lowest total guarantee but the highest annual average. Cox had the highest total contract value, but the lowest fully guaranteed amount at signing. Dareus had the highest fully guaranteed amount at signing, but the lowest annual value. In other words, they all more or less got the same deal but with something that their agent could highlight to future prospective clients to prove that their deal was the best. 

Jets fans will know that I'd put Wilkerson ahead of both players, but trying to put any biases aside, both Cox and Dareus were higher draft picks than Wilkerson and he is the oldest of the three, so he's done well to get a deal that compares favorably to those two.

As for JJ Watt, he is earning less than these three because his deal was signed before the cap exploded. However, he's not that far back and I expect he'll get a well-deserved bump to overtake them again as long as he continues to play at the same level.

Some people have also been throwing Olivier Vernon's name into the mix, but really he's more of a pure edge rusher -- and a speed-to-power rusher rather than the classic speed rushers that tended to get the big money in the past. His deal certainly contributed toward pushing the overall market up, but shouldn't really be a factor in Wilkerson's price-point. In the context of Von Miller's new $19-million-per-year contract, Vernon earning less than 90 percent of what Miller will earn makes him feel like less of an outlier.

The cap position

On the basis of what we've learned, the Jets apparently have about $10 million of cap space for the current year. The immediate conclusion here is that this cap room could potentially be used to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was reportedly offered a three-year contract which would have had a $6 million cap hit in year one.

This could be a red herring though. Had Wilkerson remained on the franchise tag, the Jets still could have created the cap space to afford that deal. Also, structuring Wilkerson's deal the way they did to "save" them from having to make other cap saving moves doesn't really make any difference because if you're back loading cap hits in Wilkerson's deal instead of restructuring other deals, then that has the same effect on your future cap space regardless.

Maybe the next move is to re-sign Fitzpatrick and maybe it isn't. With the Jets' long-term financial picture now a lot clearer, that could spark re-negotiations, but whether they go anywhere is anyone's guess. Maybe they'll increase their offer now, but that might not even be necessary as alternative locations for Fitzpatrick don't appear to be presenting themselves.

An over-simplified but ballpark synopsis for the Jets' basic cap situation over the next couple of years was that the Jets would likely have some, but not very much, cap room in 2017 and plenty of cap room in 2018. Now that Wilkerson is signed and we need to account for big cap hits for him in each year, then we essentially ensure ourselves that the Jets will have no real cap space to work with in 2017, but enough flexibility to keep the team together and maybe carve out room for a few key moves. 

In 2018, rather than being a major player, they currently project to have a more modest amount of cap room, which might be drawn from as they create space for moves next year. There are some big-money deals that could potentially come off the books in 2017 and 2018 to create space, but the Jets are unlikely to be in a position where they are forced to release guys they would prefer to keep.

As with any high salary deal, this contract could be used to create some short term cap relief with salary-to-bonus restructures. If they do that in 2017, they could reduce next year's cap hit from $18 million to as low as $8 million, increasing the cap hits over the last three years by about $3.5 million each. Alternatively, if they waited until 2018, they could potentially reduce that year's cap hit from $20 million to under $10 million, adding $5 million to the cap hits in 2019 and 2020, as we head towards a new CBA and/or work stoppage.

Leverage

The question I always like to ask when a protracted contract negotiation reaches its conclusion is "who caved"? Did anything change to spark either side relaxing its position? 

The market essentially set the size and structure of this deal. The Jets just had to decide whether they were prepared to make such an expensive long-term commitment when they have two other excellent young linemen under contract for a few years with cheaper deals. Maybe they ended up paying Wilkerson more than they initially hoped, but I figure whether or not to make the commitment was the bigger decision for them.

Time, as always was a factor. With the deadline approaching, motivation was obviously high to get a deal done, after an extended period of inactivity. Both teams may have been hoping to gain leverage as the deadline approached and perhaps one side did, which led to both sides getting back to the negotiating table.

Did anything happen as the deadline approached? Possibly. Tom Brady's four-game suspension was upheld and perhaps the Jets see this as an opportunity they couldn't afford to let slip by because of the chance of a disgruntled Wilkerson holding out or playing poorly due to a lack of motivation or preparation. Maybe the threat of him holding out was enough on its own to make them blink, even without the Brady aspect.

In his breakdown of the deal, Jason from OTC wonders aloud if we might hear that something about Richardson's future was a catalyst for the deal. Has something connected with Richardson - either a specific event or just a series of actions - led the team to conclude that Wilkerson should be their priority going forward? Perhaps adding intrigue to that factor are Mike Westhoff's comments to SNY yesterday, where he said he was unimpressed with Richardson last year and disappointed with what he saw from him in mini-camp, despite some big talk.

Whatever their reasoning, the Jets returned to the negotiating table just in time, but how badly did they lose out by not getting a deal done much earlier? Had they dealt with Wilkerson a few years ago, they probably could got a deal done for around $14 million. At the time, Jason La Canfora reported that Wilkerson was looking for similar money to Robert Quinn, who had just signed a $57 million deal over four years. 

While they'd be saving about $3 million a year, if such a deal had kicked in before his fifth season, then they'd be paying him $6 million more than they would have under the fifth year option. While contract extensions used to typically account for amounts and years remaining on an existing deal, Revis set a precedent with his insistence on a deal that ignored the remaining years. While the Jets resisted that the second time around and dealt him instead, re-signing him to a big money deal later on might be seen as a sign they were wrong there. Therefore that might have been a can of worms the Jets were reluctant to open, instead opting to negotiate at the end of the deal.

Also, the length of the deal may have been a factor. The Jets pushed for a deal that ensured Wilkerson was signed through 2020 whereas he actually wanted a deal that ran through 2021, so they obviously see that as the optimum age for his contract to be up. Who knows when a 2014 extension would have ended? Ultimately, they lost out slightly in the long run, but they were retaining roster flexibility elsewhere so the overall outcome is quite good.

On the other side of the coin, there was a lot of negativity about the unfairness of the franchise tag system, but ultimately we've been told that Wilkerson wanted to be a Jet and he got the long-term deal he was after. Without the franchise tag, it's likely he would have been gone, maybe even traded before his contract expired. Maybe the system works after all. It did for Wilkerson, although he and his agent had to work the system a little to get the desired result.

One good thing to come out of this was that Wilkerson didn't do a lot of griping in the press and his agent, Chad Wiestling, handled the negotiations in a professional and private manner. Some agents have been known to leak a deluge of information to the media, together with instructions of how to use the information to portray the team in a bad light. That creates bad blood and can drive a wedge between players and teams. 

It seems like NFL fan bases are becoming wise to that kind of approach and hopefully Wiestling's success will lead to future negotiations being conducted in a similar fashion. Of course, if the Jets suddenly cave to Fitzpatrick and up their offer for him, that positive outcome might soon be undone.

What does this tell us about how the Jets feel about Wilkerson?

There had been some rumblings in the media that the Jets were unwilling to deal long term with Wilkerson because the current regime didn't consider him to be a cornerstone player, instead considering Richardson to be the defensive face of the franchise in the near future.

I was concerned over these reports, which suggested the Jets felt Richardson was the more talented player despite the fact he hadn't performed or produced as consistently as Wilkerson over the past couple of years. It seemed more realistic to suggest that perhaps Richardson has the higher ceiling, although for the time being Wilkerson is the better player. The fact they gave Wilkerson this deal clearly tells us they did see him as an elite player all along.

From the reactions of his teammates, it's quite clear that most of them felt he deserved this long term extension and the chance to remain as one of the key contributors on the roster too.

What will the impact be on Richardson though? In the short term, I'd imagine it will motivate him. In fact, the Wilkerson situation was weighing on everyone, so players like Richardson have been suffering from disgruntlement by proxy. The knock-on effects of a happy and motivated Wilkerson could lift Richardson and others on the roster as well.

Down the line, there could be issues if Richardson feels he is the better player, but isn't quite producing at the same level. However, although Richardson regularly makes comments about how good he believes he is, he does seem to look up to Wilkerson and I would be hopeful that jealously will not be an issue.

Trade possibilities

It's worth addressing whether a trade could happen down the road. We can essentially rule out this deal being made with the intention of Wilkerson himself being traded any time soon because the Jets already paid out a $15 million signing bonus. The rare exception to that would be if a team unwilling to pay Wilkerson the same kind of money was prepared to give the Jets high enough trade compensation that the Jets would be prepared to eat that bonus.

The more likely possibility, which may be an issue over the next year or two, is that Richardson might become a player who could potentially be traded. He'll be under contract for about $8 million under his fifth year option next season, with the possibility of a franchise tag after that.

That's for down the line though. For now the Jets have Wilkerson and Richardson under contract along with Leonard Williams, and if they can keep all three next year and even further into the future that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Conclusions

Ultimately, as I said yesterday, I was surprised by this deal because the Jets' actions seemed to indicate that they were happy to stick with the franchise tag. However, once the Jets made the decision to return to the negotiating table, I'm not surprised they were able to hammer out a deal, based on all the recent similar parameter-setting deals.

Wilkerson playing on the franchise tag would have helped the team retain some flexibility, but it did create a bit of a cap crunch and wasn't ideal from a motivation perspective. Hopefully Wilkerson will be in the right frame of mind to put together yet another elite season. In fact, maybe he'll be determined to prove he deserves the deal and will continue to measure himself against the top earners in the league.

Ironically, for a deal with so many guarantees, there are no guarantees that Wilkerson will remain healthy and productive over the next five years. However, Wilkerson has enjoyed success so far due to fundamental factors such as his length, technique, discipline and consistency which are always going to be there. I expect him to continue to perform at a high level and hopefully he can remain elite as he heads towards an inevitable ring of honor induction. Maybe we'll be back here in five years talking about his next extension.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland)
New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland)

With the Jets signing Muhammad Wilkerson to a new contract Friday, the team has more salary cap room for the 2016 season, reports ESPN's Rich Cimini and Dan Graziano

This leaves the team with $5.7 million in cap space, instead of the $3.4 million the Jets had before the new Wilkerson contract, according to the report. 

Wilkerson, who was originally to play the season under a franchise tag worth $15.7 million, will now have a $10 million cap hit for 2016 under his new five-year contract, Graziano reports. 

 

 

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates after Buffalo Bills' Tyrod Taylor (5) fumbles the ball during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Jets recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert) (Bill Wippert/AP)
New York Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates after Buffalo Bills' Tyrod Taylor (5) fumbles the ball during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Jets recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert) (Bill Wippert/AP)

The Jets have signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a multi-year extension, the team announced Friday.

Wilkerson will get $86 million over five years, with $37.75 million fully guaranteed at signing, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano. According to Graziano, the remaining $16.75 million guaranteed will start in March 2018. 

ESPN New York's Rich Cimini reports that the Jets offered Wilkerson a new deal on Wednesday via email, and the two sides went back-and-forth most of Friday before coming to an agreement minutes before 4 p.m. 

"I give my all every Sunday on the field and play with so much love and passion for the game. I'm thankful for everything that comes my way and proud to say I'm back on the green and white for a few more years," Wilkerson posted on Twitter.

In 2015, Wilkerson recorded 64 combined tackles and 12 sacks. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl.



Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

This definitely surprised me. Everything leading up to this announcement seemed to be pointing to the fact that the Jets wanted to leave Wilkerson on the franchise tag with half an eye on the development of their other stud linemen and a pending decision or two down the road.  

However, I think it's a good move. Regular readers will know how high I am on Wilkerson's ability and his importance to the success of the defense, so I can't complain about paying elite money to retain an elite player.  

Whether the looming deadline caused one side to soften their stance or not, this deal can only be good as long as Wilkerson stays healthy and maintains the level of play he's shown over the past few years.

Nevertheless, I know better than to overreact to a long-term contract before the full details have been revealed, so I'll digest that information when it comes and then write up a more detailed breakdown over the weekend. For now, though, I'm happy Wilkerson will be sticking around and motivated to perform for the foreseeable future.


Brian Bassett, theJetsBlog.com Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

I am giggling that this happened before the deadline based on the way that this whole thing has played out in the press. This must come as a shock to most based on the way this has been portrayed publicly -- in point of fact I'd say that getting Wilkerson at $18 million a year for the first three years and $17 million over the course of the deal seems like a good bargain to me considering the caliber of player and the leadership he brings.

Paying quarterbacks next to nothing allows for such generous spending elsewhere ... could that be in store for the Jets? The last deal many are waiting to see is one with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Will the Jets have the cap room now to find space for a quarterback? We shall see.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports Images)

After New England Patriots QB Tom Brady had his appeal for his four-game suspension relating to Deflategate rejected, one New York Jets player believes they can take advantage.

"With Tom gone those first four games, they could go 2-2 or even 1-3," an anonymous Jets player told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman. "It's a good opportunity for us."

Brady is set to miss New England's first four games of the season against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills, and would return Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. The Jets host the Patriots in Week 12 and face them on the road in Week 16.

New York split its season series against the Patriots last season, losing 30-23 in Week 7 before winning 26-20 in overtime in Week 16.

Brady, 38, is 21-7 in his career against the Jets with a 62.14 percent completion percentage, 6,614 yards thrown, 39 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Tags: New England Patriots

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson gestures to the fans on the sidelines before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USATSI)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson gestures to the fans on the sidelines before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USATSI)

The Jets are the sixth-most valuable franchise in the NFL, according to a report by Forbes magazine.

Valued at $2.6 billion dollars, the Jets are the 13th most valuable sports franchise in the world and 10th most in America (European soccer clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munic are worth more).

The Jets are the second-most valuable franchise in the New York area behind the Giants and the second-most valuable in their division, behind AFC East rival the New England Patriots. 


New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams (92) reacts to a sack by New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) (not shown) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams (92) reacts to a sack by New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) (not shown) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland)

In between now and training camp, I'm looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. Today, we're going to take a look at Leonard Williams and his potential development as he enters his second season.

In his rookie season, Williams started 15 games and recorded 63 tackles and three sacks. Williams was thrown into the fire because of Sheldon Richardson's suspension and hit the ground running. However, he perhaps didn't make as many impact plays as some fans would have liked. What kind of progress can we expect from Williams as he enters his second season?

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Measuring Williams' progress against the other Jets linemen

When the Jets drafted Richardson in 2013, he was able to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad Wilkerson, a lineman drafted in the first round two years earlier. Williams entered the league two years after Richardson, putting him in a similar situation but with the added bonus of having Wilkerson to look up to as well. There's a gravitational effect for anyone who comes in with such an outstanding player - or in this case players - ahead of them. The opportunity to learn from them, gauge your progress against them and motivation to emulate them are all valuable benefits.

Wilkerson was a late first rounder, whereas Richardson was a mid-first rounder. That set a level of expectation for Richardson to have an even higher ceiling than Wilkerson and to start delivering on that potential sooner. While Richardson hasn't reached his ceiling or overtaken Wilkerson yet, there are reportedly many league sources who believe that's inevitable. With Williams being a high-first rounder, is it possible his ceiling is even higher than both of them? That remains to be seen, but at least we can compare how each of them fared in their first season.

Richardson's rookie season was definitely better than that of Wilkerson. He won the defensive rookie of the year award, registering 78 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Wilkerson, whose emergence really began in year two, had a solid but unspectacular rookie season. He was a full-time starter though, posting 49 tackles and 3.0 sacks.

Williams finished third in defensive rookie of the year voting, behind Marcus Peters and his league-leading eight interceptions. With 63 tackles and 3.0 sacks, Williams' rookie numbers were almost exactly halfway in between those of his linemates. Raw numbers don't always tell the story though, so what else can we determine about Williams' performance?

According to PFF, Williams' grades against the run were about the same as Richardson's in his rookie year. Wilkerson's grade was much lower as a rookie, although he was among the league leaders by year two. Run defense grades are more instructive than raw tackle numbers because they're also a measure of how often you were blocked out of a play.

It's as a pass rusher that Williams' rookie year was tantalizingly superior to Richardson and Wilkerson. While they all essentially had the same number of sacks, Wilkerson averaged less than one pressure/hit per game, while Richardson averaged two and Williams averaged more than three. While Wilkerson and Richardson both graded out negatively as pass rushers in their rookie year, Williams was in the top 15 at his position. Is he going to develop to a point where he can produce even more than Richardson and Wilkerson or is he just close to his ceiling as a pass rusher sooner than his teammates?

Turning pressures and hits into sacks

Remarkably, only 10 NFL players had more quarterback hits than Williams last year, according to official NFL numbers. Williams had 16, just one fewer than Wilkerson. That led to a familiar refrain:

"I got to the quarterback a lot last year, but they were just hits, those aren't the stats I'm looking for," Williams said. "I want to get sacks. Those little seconds matter, getting to the quarterback."

Jets fans might feel a sense of déjà vu from these comments because similar comments were made by or about the likes of Quinton Coples and Vernon Gholston in the past.

Is Williams placing so high in the rankings some kind of anomaly, though? It seems unlikely, given the fact that all of the players in the top 10 posted double-digits in sacks last year - apart from Olivier Vernon, who was second in the league in hits and earned himself an $85 million contract from the Giants despite "only" recording 7.5 sacks.

While Gholston and Coples were unable to turn those hits into sacks, it can happen. A good example that comes to mind is Robert Quinn, who had just won the defensive player of the year and signed a big money extension, only to then be sackless entering week seven. The sacks eventually came and he still ended up in double-digits.

Richardson's year two progress and Wilkerson's year three progress could be realistic bars for Williams to aim for. Richardson's rookie pressure numbers were pretty much the same as Wilkerson's year two pressure numbers, while still falling below what Williams achieved as a rookie. Richardson followed up his rookie season with eight sacks and Wilkerson followed up his second season with 10.5 sacks. On this basis, perhaps it's not out of the question for Williams to get close to double digits if he can improve at a similar rate.

Impact pressure

Getting to the quarterback is important, but if you're not recording a sack, how much of an impact are you actually having?

For example, in the first five games, Williams twice had a hit on a play where the offense scored a touchdown anyway. However, there was a significant trend towards more positive outcomes when he got to the quarterback as the season went on.

Over the first six games, quarterbacks completed 4-of-8 passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns on plays where Williams had a hit. However, in the next eight games, they were just 1-of-8 for four yards and an interception. All told, that's 5-for-16, 49 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, producing a quarterback rating of just 54.4.

Williams wasn't credited with a hit in either of the last two games, although those were the only consecutive games in which he failed to record a hit. In the first 14 games, he had only failed to record a hit three times.

Here's the best example of the kind of imposing presence he can produce. He overpowers Doug Free, throws him aside and then gets Matt Cassel to panic and throw an easy interception:

Other considerations

While the signs are good in terms of the potential for Williams to improve upon his performances so far and make more impact plays, there are a few factors which could hold him back. First of all, Wilkerson and Richardson's development came under Karl Dunbar. It remains to be seen whether current defensive line coach Pepper Johnson can enjoy the same success in terms of pushing Williams to the next level.

Another factor sure to influence his production in the running game is the departure of nose tackle Damon Harrison. While the Jets are optimistic that Steve McLendon and Deon Simon can fill in for him, there's likely to be an adjustment period and Williams could find himself double-teamed more often in the early stages.

One last intangible factor, which could work in his favor, is something I picked up on when covering the Jets' trip to London. That would be the star quality that Williams naturally exudes off the field. It's impossible to explain why but he has a natural confidence and "it factor" that left me in no doubt he's headed for super-stardom.

Conclusions

With all the focus on Harrison (because he left), Wilkerson (because of his contract situation) and Richardson (because of his suspension) during this offseason, it's easy to forget all about Williams. However, we perhaps shouldn't overlook what a valuable asset he could be.

I don't know that Williams will ascend as dramatically as Richardson and Wilkerson have. After all, maybe he just started off from a point where he was more NFL ready and closer to his ceiling. Even if he is in the NFL for a long time merely playing at the level he did last season, that will be a fine career. However, there are reasons to be optimistic that he's only just scratching the surface of his capabilities.

Williams is not as good as Richardson or Wilkerson yet, but he's on his way. The thought that he could be not just as good as they are, but potentially even better, is almost too tantalizing to entertain.

Tags: Leonard Williams

Is Deflategate finally over? 00:03:22
The Daily News Live panel reacts to the news that Tom Brady's Deflategate suspension is being upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

 A federal appeals court has rejected Tom Brady's attempt to get a new hearing on his suspension.

Brady was asking for the full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case. In April, a three-judge panel said that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers when he suspended the star quarterback four games for his role in a scheme to doctor the footballs used in a Jan. 18, 2015, playoff game.

The decision Wednesday affirms the wide-ranging powers given to the commissioner by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement and was a setback for organized labor groups arguing for due process in employee discipline.

Brady's remaining hope is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. >> Read more...

Tags: New England Patriots

GEICO SportsNite: Wilkerson 00:02:32
The Jets Nation crew discusses the future of defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and how his absence from camp could affect the Jets.

The Jets Nation panel agrees: Muhammed Wilkerson will not sign with the Jets before the season.

"I don't think he'll sign," former Wilkerson teammate D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "This is his opportunity and I think he's going to hold out, and that's just my belief."

Another former teammate of Wilkerson, Willie Colon, said he would not sign the franchise tag if he were Wilkerson.

"I understand it's a lot to leave on the table, but for him this is the only leverage he has," Colon said on Jets Nation. "He has to flat out get healthy and figure out what the next plan of action is. But I would flat out not sign it, I would wait it out and move on from there."

"I think Mo holds out," he later added.

Wilkerson is coming off a 64 tackle, 12 sack Pro Bowl season and has played five seasons with the Jets. In that time, he has posted 36 sacks, 184 solo tackles, 116 assisted tackles and forced nine fumbles over 74 games.

The Jets offered him a tender for a franchise tag designation for the season, which Wilkerson has stated he will decline in favor of a long-term, more lucrative deal.

At last report, Wilkerson and the Jets are still far apart on a deal.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)

The Jets have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

PFF concedes that Geno Smith has shown flashes of good quarterback play, he has never sustained it for a lengthy period of time.

The analytics website did not appear to be high on rookie backup Christian Hackenberg, assessing him as the lowest-graded FBS quarterback in 2014 and "consistently poor" his other two years at Penn State.

New York's quarterback depth chart also includes former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who the Jets took in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Jets have not yet re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the two are still reportedly far apart on a deal. Head coach Todd Bowles has said that he is tired of talking about Fitzpatrick and will proceed with training camp with Geno as the starting quarterback for the Jets 2016 season.

Tags: Geno Smith

New York Jets tight end Jace Amaro (88) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. (Andrew Weber)
New York Jets tight end Jace Amaro (88) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. (Andrew Weber)

In between now and training camp, I'm looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. Today, we're going to take a look at all the candidates for the tight end role and how they might be used this season.

In 2015, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis shared virtually all of the reps at tight end, but combined for just eight catches, as the tight ends simply weren't featured in the offensive gameplan. Could this be somewhere the Jets could add another dimension in 2016, or will the position continued to be marginalized in Chan Gailey's system?

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Tight ends in 2015

The Jets' plans for their tight end position in 2015 were perhaps waylaid somewhat by the loss of Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfeld to season-ending injuries in training camp.

Davis and Cumberland had effectively locked up their roster spots by default, with blocking specialist Steve Maneri - signed in June following Sudfeld's knee injury - being the only other tight end on the roster with any NFL experience. Other than Maneri, their only competition was an undrafted rookie and two late camp additions. 

Cumberland had been a modest contributor over the past three years with the Jets, catching 78 passes over the past three years. He was actually on the field for over 900 snaps in 2014, but saw him playing time cut dramatically and caught just five passes on 13 targets.

Davis had never really lived up to his potential with the Bears and had been bouncing around the league and primarily used as a blocker due over the previous few years because of his unreliable hands.

Gailey's offenses in the past had featured tight ends regularly, with Scott Chandler in particular making a name for himself. While he would get a lot of the production from Chandler and his other tight ends by lining them up in the slot, that was a role Cumberland was familiar with and one in which he had been productive in the past. However, Gailey instead opted to use his receivers in that role and even employed his third receiver as an H-back at times. Even so, Cumberland and Davis were on the field for over 700 snaps between them, so that doesn't entirely explain their total lack of statistical production.

The current candidates

While Cumberland is gone - signed to a free agent contract with the Chargers - Davis re-signed to a minimum-salary deal, to the surprise of many. Sudfeld, who was out of contract at the end of the season, was also re-signed.

The only player remaining under contract with the team is Amaro, although he missed the entire season after suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery. Amaro is entering the third year of his four-year rookie deal.

After the season, Wes Saxton and Brandon Bostick were signed to futures deals. Saxton spent the year on the practice squad, apart from a one week main roster assignment when Cumberland missed a game. Bostick had also been signed to the practice squad, late in the season.

The only other tight end on the roster is undrafted rookie Jason Vander Laan, a converted quarterback. They have released a couple of tight ends during the offseason program though.

The Jets will have a need for snaps at the inline tight end position and at the H-back position. How would each of these players fit into those roles and how might they perform during the season?

The incumbents

The 30-year old Davis serves as something of a baseline for the progress of the other, younger, tight end options on this team. It seems likely he's reached his potential and while he has value as a competent blocker who can play the inline role, the Jets would presumably prefer someone more dynamic to take that spot.

Davis missed time in the offseason program with an injured thumb. That likely won't affect his roster chances that much, because the Jets will presumably see him as a fall-back option if none of the younger options step up. Davis might not be very productive, but if none of the youngsters are ready, the team will likely revert to him as a reliable veteran with experience.

Davis received an $80,000 signing bonus and $150,000 of his minimum salary is guaranteed, but these amounts likely wouldn't be prohibitive enough to secure his spot on the roster. In fact, keeping a minimum salaried rookie over him would be exactly cap-neutral, which probably isn't a coincidence.

Amaro is entering his third season, although he only played in one preseason game last year. If he could emulate his production from his rookie year (38-345-2TD) that would be an instant improvement over the total tight end production from last year's group (8-95-TD). However, 23 of those catches came when he was lined up in the slot, where the 2015 Jets already achieved plenty of production from their receivers. His longest catch came from the outside slot, albeit lined up close to the edge of the line:

 

Can Amaro contribute as an inline tight end? He played about one-third of his snaps in 2014 as an inline tight end, mostly in multiple tight end sets. Holding him back would be his lack of experience as a blocker. While he might be able to produce from the slot due to being matched up with smaller defenders in space, he would need to show considerable progress to convince the team he won't be a liability in such a role. His listed weight is the same as that of Davis, although I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Davis had bulked up for a more blocking-heavy role.

Logically, it would seem obvious that Amaro would step into a starter's role. However, he seemed to be struggling to get to grips with the system last year and was only the third tight end at the point where he suffered his season-ending injury.

Davis and Amaro are probably the favorites to start as the number one inline tight end and H-back respectively. Ironically, while Amaro is considered by many to be a big, athletic target, Davis is actually two inches taller and ran the 40 in 4.6 at the combine while Amaro only ran 4.74. However, Amaro ran 4.6 at his pro day and presumably Davis has lost a step since his combine appearance eight years ago. Based on their skill-sets, Davis as the blocker and Amaro as the pass catcher is the logical way to go.

Reserve depth

Sudfeld and Bostick are two players with experience in a back-up tight end role. Neither has played that much, as they have accounted for 19 catches, 171 yards and three touchdowns between them.

When Bostick was first linked with the Jets, some fans were excited because he was a familiar name and seemingly anyone would provide an upgrade over the total lack of production they were getting from their two tight ends last season. However, the main reason he's a familiar name is because of his fumbled onside kick which cost the Packers a place in the Super Bowl a couple of seasons ago. 

At tight end, he's shown some flashes of downfield pass catching ability but is another raw blocker. He'll have to flash more of those receiving skills and show improvement as a blocker to have any chance of securing a spot with the Jets.

How about Sudfeld as a realistic option to replace Cumberland though? Before missing 2015, Sudfeld had caught five passes in each of the previous two seasons, for an average of 74 yards. Despite seeing significantly more playing time and targets, Cumberland only had five catches for 77 yards last year, so it's not like Sudfeld is incapable of emulating that and potentially more.

Sudfeld has also shown some promise as a blocker and has played a higher percentage of his snaps as an inline tight end than anyone other than Davis from this group. With that in mind, he perhaps has the best chance at replacing Davis too. If not, he has a good chance at the third tight end role because of he was one of the leading special teams contributors in 2014, which improves his chances.

Young potential

Saxton and Vander Laan lack experience but are both promising athletes. Saxton was activated for the Miami game in London last year and saw action on 13 snaps. He's been regarded as a raw blocker, but has shown some signs of development in that area. Saxton is listed at 235, but he told me last year that he was up to 255, which is right where he wants to be. That would make him a candidate for the H-back role, which is similar to the role he played in college.

Saxton caught 50 passes as a junior at South Alabama, but his production slipped in his senior year due to injuries. However, he's bulked up nicely and showed some promise in camp last year. In preseason (and the London game), he got plenty of inline work, but does seem better suited to a move/slot role. He caught four passes in preseason; one 15-yarder and three shorter passes.

Vander Laan is a total unknown at this point. Reports out of the offseason activities suggest he's looked pretty smooth in his transition from dual-threat quarterback, but he's never had any experience as a blocker, so that will be his biggest learning curve once the pads go on. Realistically, you'd expect him to be a year away from contributing, but Antonio Gates didn't play college football at all and he was a starter by November in his rookie year, so Vander Laan sneaking onto the roster wouldn't be completely unprecedented.

Other options

Last year, the Jets would often employ Quincy Enunwa in an H-back type role. While he was still primarily a slot receiver, he would often motion to the edge of the line, especially later on in the season. I looked at his role in detail here. Will those reps become available for a guy like Amaro or Saxton to take so that Enunwa can revert to a more traditional wide receiver role going forwards?

A final untouched-upon option would be to bring in a veteran tight end closer to the start of the season. When the Jets signed Kellen Winslow after mini-camp in 2013, he ended up being one of Geno Smith's favorite targets. There isn't much available right now, with Owen Daniels contemplating retirement and other names like Andrew Quarless or John Phillips being underwhelming. However, there's sure to be options released around the league during final cuts, so if nobody steps up, the Jets could instead find an upgrade that way.

Conclusions

This is as open as a training camp positional battle can get. I can imagine any of the six candidates ending up on the active roster or failing to make the team. The starting role is also completely up for grabs.

When you get a situation like this where there are several viable candidates but none of them are sure things, the hope is that the cream will rise to the top, but the reality is often very different. 

In some respects, this reminds me of the left guard position battle, back in 2007. Initially, rookie Jacob Bender had won the starting role and started throughout preseason, but the team lost faith in him and ended up giving the opening day starter role to the more experienced, but unproven Adrien Clarke. Clarke's struggles were well documented and he eventually ended up getting replaced by Will Montgomery, who would go on to be a good player over the next decade, but at the time was just as inexperienced.

The good news is that a lack of production at the tight end position can be schemed around, as 2015 proves. That wouldn't as readily be the case with a position like left guard. Also, while the talent on show is largely unproven, there's an extremely low bar if they're going to offer an upgrade over what last year's tight ends offered. Gailey's history suggests he will make use of the assets he does have, but will find other ways to overcome those pieces that he lacks.

As for which of these players will step up and win a role, Davis and Amaro start off as the favorites, but fans and coaches will be hoping at least one of the other players steps up to challenge them. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but it's certainly going to be something to pay attention to when camp gets underway in a few weeks.


Jets Nation of Fitzpatrick 00:02:14
Jets Nation panel discusses what Ryan Fitzpatrick means to the Jets and if something will get worked out before training camp.

The Jets should prioritize bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick over Muhammed Wilkerson, Willie Colon and Ray Lucas said on Jets Nation.

Fitzpatrick set the Jets franchise record for passing touchdowns in a season in his first year as a starter with 31. He also threw for 3905 yards and 335 completions, more than current Jets starter Geno Smith ever did in his two years as New York's primary quarterback.

Wilkerson is a two-time second-team All-Pro coming off a Pro Bowl season. In five years with the Jets, he has played 74 games and compiled 36 sacks, 184 solo tackles, 116 assisted tackles and forced nine fumbles.

Both players are currently in contract disputes with the Jets, with both players reportedly seeking significantly more money than what the organization is offering them.

However, Colon said of his former teammate Fitzpatrick that the organization needs to make it their first priority to bring him back.

"Fitz is everything," Colon said. "We both played in the huddle know how much he means to the team. Especially when you have Decker and Marshall coming out and saying 'Hey, he's our guy, we love him.' It's just a matter of time. The Jets gotta figure out if something happens to Geno, who's the next guy in line? And they don't have an answer to that."

Colon also cautioned that if it doesn't work out with Fitzpatrick, the Jets have to make Geno Smith comfortable being the new starter.

"If they don't come to deal with Fitz, they gotta do Geno justice by putting their foot in the dirt and saying 'Hey, we're done with you. Geno's our guy.' Beause it's not fair to Geno to look at every swinging door and wonder if Fitzpatrick is coming through the door," Colon said. "You want your starting quarterback to be clear-minded and ready to go."  

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson , Ryan Fitzpatrick , Willie Colon

Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are joined by former Jets safety and current SNY Analyst Erik Coleman, for a big show that covers everything from minicamp to tacos. 

That includes Muhammad Wilkerson, how his contract situation and the QB situation affects the locker room, a discussion about the transition from playing days to a post playing career for NFL athletes, and the Pizza vs Tacos argument.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets defensive Muhammad Wilkerson during practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive Muhammad Wilkerson during practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson are not talking about a new contract for the defensive end, according to a report from Dom Cosentino on NJ.com.

Wilkerson, who is seeking a long-term contract, has not come to terms on a new deal with the Jets yet. The team placed a franchise tag on him earlier in the offseason, and if the two sides don't come to an agreement before July 15, he will have to play under a one-year, $15.7 million contract. 

Wilkerson has not signed his franchise tender. 

In 2015, Wilkerson recorded 64 combined tackles and 12 sacks. 

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. (Raymond Carlin III)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. (Raymond Carlin III)

In between now and training camp, I'm looking at some of the veteran players on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. Today, we're going to take a look at Geno Smith and his suitability for a potential starting role if the team fails to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick. We'll re-visit Smith's sole 2015 appearance, when Fitzpatrick was injured in Oakland, to try and determine if that tells us anything about his progress or otherwise since he lost the starting job.

Much of this offseason has been conducted under the assumption that Fitzpatrick will eventually re-sign with the Jets and be reinstated as their starting quarterback. That may still happen, but in recent weeks you get the sense that players, coaches and even fans and media are starting to talk themselves around to the alternative notion of handing "the keys to the Porsche" back to Geno.

While we recognize you probably hate the "Same old Geno" headline, this is all about trying to find evidence that he's advanced since he last started and that we're not just settling back into an inadequate alternative to Fitzpatrick. At the end of the day, even if Fitzpatrick does re-sign, it's still a worthwhile exercise, because Smith will probably still be an injury away from getting called on again.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus

The current situation

This time last year, Smith was right where he is now; atop the Jets' depth chart as their starting quarterback. Despite getting booed, he was navigating his way through camp pretty well, as he didn't throw his first interception until the 10th practice. We all know what happened next. An off-field dispute with IK Enemkpali escalated to the point where Enemkpali struck Smith, breaking his jaw and putting him out for a month. 

By default, Fitzpatrick was now the starter, although many felt he would have had a good chance to eventually win the job anyway. Had he not been coming off a broken leg, perhaps Fitzpatrick would have had more of a shot up to that point.

Fitzpatrick fared well as the starter, leading the Jets into the bye at 3-1 to secure the role for the rest of the season. However, a thumb injury against the Raiders forced him out of the line-up and gave Smith the chance for his only game action of the season. Fitzpatrick played through the injury for the remainder of the season and the coaching staff said he'd be the starter again if and when he re-signed after the season.

All of this brings us to where we are now. Despite the fact the Jets have been the sole realistic suitor for Fitzpatrick from the start, disagreements over the 33-year old's value have meant that he still hasn't signed. The team seems open to the fact that he can sign between now and the start of camp and still be the starter, but has been proceeding on the basis that he's not here and so Smith has been taking all the first team reps.

By all accounts, Smith has fared well, although you'd expect him to stand out given the relative inexperience levels of the quarterbacks behind him on the depth chart. With even the media forced to admit the Smith has been impressive at times, the looming specter of another year with Smith at the helm perhaps doesn't seem so bad after all.

However, with the pads yet to go on, we're forced to revisit that one appearance from last season for a more informative look at whether he will fare any better as a starter than he did before he first lost the job.

The set-up

The Jets headed into Oakland in week eight having just missed the chance to go 5-1 with a loss to New England the previous week. Oakland, however, were flying high, coming off a blowout win of the Chargers. The Jets' preparations had been thrown into chaos because Nick Mangold had suffered a neck injury late in the Patriots game and was unable to play, only for Fitzpatrick to then get knocked out of the game on the opening drive.

This forced Smith into action for the rest of the game, although Fitzpatrick was forced to re-enter and handle a couple of snaps late in the fourth quarter when Smith himself was hurt.

When I initially reviewed this game, my approach was to gloss over Smith's performance to some degree, on the following basis: Firstly, anything good he did was while the team was trailing heavily. Secondly, anything bad he did was partly due to the fact that was thrown out there at short notice without getting a decent chance to prepare. Finally, even at that time, it seemed likely that Smith would probably be gone at the end of the season anyway, so there seemed little point in nit-picking everything he did.

Here we are though, so perhaps it is worth revisiting the game in more detail, even if we're accepting the fact that we shouldn't overreact to anything he did or didn't do well, for the above reasons.

Smith's performance: The numbers

On the basis of the boxscore, this was one of the best games of Smith's career. He completed 27-of-42 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Smith posted the fifth best completion percentage and the third best quarterback rating of his career. Full disclosure: I'm excluding a 2014 performance against the Bills where Smith relieved Mike Vick with the Jets trailing heavily and completed 10 of 12 passes, mostly throwing short. 

It was also his fifth best yardage output and one of only six multiple-TD pass games Smith has posted. Smith also rushed for 34 yards on two carries and, while he was sacked three times for 19 yards, he picked up two first downs for 29 yards on pass interference calls.

It wasn't all straightforward dink-and-dunk either. He fared well when blitzed and/or pressured and completed six passes further than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, including two of over 20 yards.

Smith's performance: The film

As good as the box score looks, Smith still made some elementary mistakes which stalled drives and cost the Jets a couple of chances to score and get back into the game. Let's recap his day.

First of all, when he took over from Fitzpatrick near mid-field, he was able to get the Jets into range to take the lead on a field goal. This largely came from one play as he hit Jeremy Kerley on a well-placed throw over the middle on third and six and then Kerley turned it into a 23-yard gain by breaking a tackle and weaving down near the red zone. This was the only pass Smith threw on the drive.

That would essentially end up being basically Smith's only positive moment of the first half, although this wasn't entirely his fault. The Jets had chewed up eight minutes on their first drive and Oakland had three drives of more than five minutes each, which didn't leave Smith many chances to achieve much.

On their only other first quarter drive with Smith under center, the Jets were unsurprisingly cagey. He threw three short passes on the first drive which ended in a punt. The last one, on third and nine, saw him dump the ball to Kenbrell Thompkins on a drag route underneath as all the other receivers ran to the sticks. However, the Raiders stayed in zone coverage and watched his eyes so nobody bit on the decoy routes and Thompkins was stopped well short.

In the second quarter, Smith got even fewer chances. In fact he didn't throw his third pass of the quarter until the 2:13 mark. After going 14-3 down, the Jets went three and out with Smith handing the ball off twice and then failing to connect deep with Eric Decker. Then, after the Raiders made it 21-3, this happened on the next play:

That was obviously bad, although it's difficult to justify the play call in that situation, even from an it's-so-crazy-it'll-be-the-last-thing-they-expect standpoint. Still, Smith either needed to do a better job of looking off the safety or to not throw that pass with Woodson ranging over.

At that point though, it's a quick-strike low percentage shot, where you're looking to give the team a shot in the arm and a quick route back into the game. Also, to some extent, you're relying on Brandon Marshall to go up and over the defender(s) to make a play. So, maybe you can't fault Smith entirely for taking a shot.

At the end of the half, Smith - at this point just 2-of-5 for 27 yards with an interception - managed to drive the Jets into range for a field goal to cut the lead to 21-6. He was 4-for-5 on the drive, including 13 and 14 yard completions to Decker and Marshall. However, each of these came on underneath completions with the defense playing back.

That lead would grow to 22 before Smith touched the ball again, as the Raiders scored another touchdown on their first drive of the second half. Smith played his best football over the next quarter or so, leading the Jets to a touchdown on two of their next three drives, going 6-for-6 on one and 5-for-7 on the other. However, Oakland had added a couple of field goals, so these scores only got the Jets within 14.

When the Jets forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with eight minutes to go, the comeback was still potentially on, but they failed to convert on fourth and short when they drove down inside the Raiders 40. The next drive was a three-and-out and on their final drive the Jets again got down inside the Raiders 30, but again turned the ball over on downs.

While he threw the ball effectively in the second half, racking up 204 yards, some of Smith's old issues resurfaced on their four unsuccessful drives in that second half, causing each of those drives to stall. 

On the first one, he hesitated in the pocket on third and one and ended up taking a sack when he easily could have taken off and got to the marker had he been more decisive. The next one ended when he bailed out of a throw under pressure and misfired badly on fourth down. The third drive saw him roll out on third and short but he saw an open Thompkins too late and ended up taking a sack to keep the clock running and take the Jets out of a fourth and short situation. On their last drive, with time paramount, he hesitated badly and lost 11 yards on another sack as the announcers implored him to "Throw it away!"

Ultimately, this comes down to the fact that even though his numbers under pressure were reasonably good, how he actually coped with those situations was disappointing.

Those weren't his only mistakes, though, as there were miscommunications with receivers and timing or accuracy issues on several of his throws. Again, that perhaps comes down to a combination of rust, a lack of chemistry and the fact he was thrown in there at short notice. However, there were several passes that could easily have been intercepted where defensive players he didn't appear to see almost jumped a route or dropped off into a passing lane or where his throw was either underthrown or overthrown and a defender almost came down with it. Most of those throws were just as concerning as the one interception he actually threw.

While his detractors will say that he was able to exploit a soft prevent style defense and rack up stats by taking what the defense gave him, which was certainly true to some extent, it's still worth praising some of the things he did well.

A beautifully placed 28-yard throw over the top to Marshall on a corner route was definitely his best throw of the day, but he did have some other well-placed passes into tight windows. He also converted with two touchdown passes in the red zone, including one where he showed good poise when the initial play call for Kellen Davis to leak into the back of the end zone didn't work so his primary/only option was covered. However, he extended the play as long as he could before getting nailed on the roll-out giving Davis just enough time and room to catch his well-placed throw at the back corner of the end zone.

Other considerations

So, we've analysed how well Smith threw the ball and added context by considering the game situation and the defensive gameplan. However, there are still a few other factors that impacted on his performance.

First, Mangold's absence was a huge factor. If Smith starts this year, or if he gets called upon to replace an injured Fitzpatrick/whoever, then he'd presumably lean heavily on Mangold's ability to set protections, make line calls and generally filter out any distractions. That his only game of last year should coincide with Mangold's only missed start of the year was unfortunate. Mangold also missed significant time in the win over the Jaguars and the first Bills loss.

While Johnson being in there might have contributed to some of the pressure Smith had troubles with, it may also have affected the offensive line performance generally. Chris Ivory rushed for just 17 yards on 15 carries as the Jets were held to 74 rushing yards - 46 of which were on quarterback scrambles. Rather than galvanize and raise their game, as the line memorably did for Greg McElroy when he replaced Mark Sanchez in a 2012 win over the Cardinals, the offensive line performance was poor, as were the team's body language and effort levels once Fitzpatrick went down.

Another issue that could be a factor if Smith was the quarterback for longer than just one game was his over-reliance on Marshall. It's not difficult to imagine a half-time conversation between the two whereby Marshall would have put his arm round Smith and said "I've got your back - keep looking for me." However, Marshall's nine catches for 108 yards came on 18 targets, 17 on which were thrown by Smith, including 13 in the second half. How would Smith have fared if Marshall - who did leave the game injured on two occasions - was out?

Staring down his primary target has been an issue for Smith in the past and could certainly lead to issues if defenders he doesn't see are dropping off into passing lanes or jumping routes. However, this issue isn't unique to Marshall. On two of his completions to Thompkins, Smith stared him down so he was stopped for a short gain on one and squeezed in one throw which would have been a pick-six if it was a beat later. There's no reason for Smith to have chemistry with Thompkins, who arrived halfway through the season.

One positive from the Raiders performance was perhaps the fact that Smith protected the football with just the one interception and no fumbles. However, not only did he have several near-interceptions, but he also didn't really protect himself, unnecessarily taking a big hit on the sideline after his 29-yard scramble. He was also temporarily knocked out of the game in the last minute after taking another big hit.

Rhythm is another important factor and, as noted, it was difficult for Smith to get into any kind of rhythm in the first half with the Raiders going on a long drive three times and the Jets struggling to sustain their own drives with a conservative approach. However, he did get into a good rhythm in the two minute drill and on both touchdown drives in the second half. Still, that was when the Jets were raising the tempo and the Raiders' secondary was backing off.

Footwork has been an area where Smith has really struggled in the past and this game showed few signs that he'd made any progress in the previous year. Maybe it's something he's still working on refining, but this game saw sloppiness from him, forcing him to rely on his arm strength due to being off-balance or unable to step into a throw effectively.

Ultimately, would his performance be looked upon differently if the Jets had won? The defensive performance was one of the worst of the season, with the Jets struggling to get off the field and gifting the Raiders two long touchdowns with sloppy tackling. Entering that game, only two of the Jets' seven opponents had scored more than 20 points, so if the defense had played up to their usual standards, perhaps it would have been a close game. Then again, maybe Smith's production wouldn't have been as good if the Raiders didn't play conservatively on defense to protect their big lead.

Conclusions

Reliving Smith's only performance of last year was actually more discouraging than expected, after having recently read some positive things about how well he did. There were some factors which made it difficult for him to impress in such a one-off appearance, but if we dwell too much on those we're at risk of being labelled as apologists just making excuses for him.

The buzz out of OTAs and mini-camp was definitely good, although there seemed to be a pattern of Smith looking impressive all day but then having an interception or two in team activities. That's not a pattern they'll be keen for him to follow in game action, because playing well all day but then making a costly mistake when it counts isn't likely to translate to positive results overall, even if it does indicate some level of progress. His performance in the Raiders game was almost the opposite of this though.

Despite Smith looking far from flawless, he ended up with decent numbers, which was a pattern observed in the play of Sanchez throughout his third season as a starter in 2011. Sanchez led the Jets to an 8-5 start before slumping badly and missing the postseason altogether. However, that was on a team suffering from in-fighting and locker room tensions and perhaps a more supportive environment would have led to a more positive outcome.

Maybe it's too much to expect Smith to come in play flawlessly week in and week out, but if he can put solid numbers together, limit back-breaking mistakes and keep the offense ticking over, then perhaps it's not out of the question for him to provide a facsimile of the base-level competence the Jets got from Fitzpatrick last year. That can win you games if your defense and running game show up.

Let's not kid ourselves though, Smith still has a lot to room for improvement and hopefully has still been developing as he gets all the reps in the offseason. If the Jets opt to pay big money for the solid-but-unspectacular Fitzpatrick then it speaks volumes as to how they feel about Smith as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract. If not, they'll have to work hard to minimize Smith's weaknesses, otherwise a repeat of 2014 where a tough first half schedule led to a rough start could be on the cards. 

Tags: Geno Smith

New York Jets fullback Julian Howsare (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets fullback Julian Howsare (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

In between now and training camp, I'm looking at some of the veterans on the Jets roster to assess what kind of contribution we might expect from them in 2016. We're going to shift gears and take a look at the practice squad in terms of who is eligible, how it will likely be made up and what we can learn from who was on there during the 2015 season.

Note: Pro Football Focus exclusively provides some stats from this article.

The basic rules

Most people should be familiar with how the practice squad system works: A group of players not signed to the active roster remains with the team and is able to practice with them during the week. However, the rules surrounding who is eligible and how long a player can remain on the practice squad are complicated.

Recent changes to the eligibility rules, introduced in 2014 and extended last month, have increased the number of players retaining practice squad eligibility and granted added flexibility to teams who want the opportunity to continue developing players.

Under the old rules, a player was only eligible to sign for a practice squad if he didn't have an accrued season. Players accrue a season by being on full pay status -- either the 53-man roster or injured reserve -- for six games in any season. The only exception to the above was players with an accrued season were still practice squad eligible if they had yet to be active in nine games in any regular season. It was also possible to use up all three years of practice squad eligibility if someone still hadn't accrued a season or been active in nine games in a season.

In 2014, the rules changed. The size of the practice squad was increased from eight to 10 and, while eligibility for the first eight spots remained as above, the two extra spots came under more relaxed rules in which anybody with two accrued seasons was still eligible, even if they had been active for more than nine games in either or both of their accrued seasons.

Last month, the NFL announced more rule changes. While the practice squad size was kept at 10, the league increased the number of spots that can be given to players with two accrued seasons from two to four. I.e., now only six of the 10 practice squad members need to meet the original criteria.

The main other rule to be aware of is that a player on a team's practice squad can be signed by any of the other 31 NFL teams at any point during the season, unless they are about to face that team within the next week. If that happens, the player must remain with his new team and on its active roster for at least three weeks, even if he gets injured. In practice, the original team will usually get first refusal in these situations, so if the player is about to be poached, teams usually get the opportunity to activate them themselves.

Players earn about $7,000 per week when on the practice squad, less than a third of what they'd get if on the active roster earning a minimum salary.

Who is eligible on the current Jets roster?

Looking at the Jets' current 90-man roster, it appears there are 56 players who are practice squad eligible and 34 who are not. However, by my calculations, 16 of those 56 won't qualify under the old criteria, so they will only be able to take up one of the four spots that come under the new rules.

Obviously, anyone without an accrued season will automatically qualify under the old rules. That would automatically include all rookies, of which there are 21 on the 90-man roster -- the seven draft picks and 14 undrafted free agents.

Another 14 players on the current roster are still treated as first-year players even though they are not rookies. That would mostly be players who were rookies last season but didn't get much of a chance to play, although it could also include players who have been in the league for longer than that but still not accrued a season. For example, Freddie Bishop went undrafted in 2013, but is treated as a first-year player because he still hasn't accrued an NFL season. Wes Saxton, Taiwan Jones and Deon Simon are among the other first year players on the roster.

Any second- or third-year players will automatically qualify under the "two-accrued-seasons" rule, but the Jets would be restricted to only four such players. Some of the players on this list would also qualify under the old rules if their accrued season(s) didn't see them on the active gameday roster at least nine times. I believe this applies to four of the 20 second- and third-year players on the Jets roster: Jarvis Harrison, Dion Bailey, Ronald Martin and Dakota Dozier. Therefore, these players could be placed on the practice squad without using one of the four spots reserved for players with up to two accrued seasons.

The other 16 players in that second- and third-year group will only be eligible under the new rules, so the Jets can only take four of the 10 practice squad members from this group. Jace Amaro, Dexter McDougle and Trevor Reilly, 2014 draftees, are among those who meet the criteria. Calvin Pryor does too, but it's obviously not realistic to expect him to end up on the practice squad, especially given his guaranteed salary for the next two years.

Finally, assuming any player in his fourth (or higher) season would not qualify by virtue of having more than two accrued seasons. However, it is theoretically possible to qualify under the old rules as long as they weren't on the active gameday roster nine times in any accrued seasons. This appears to catch Ben Ijalana, who is still practice squad eligible despite being headed into his sixth season, but everyone else with at least three accrued seasons is ineligible.

There's always a strong possibility that someone not currently on the roster will end up being added to the practice squad after cut down day and plenty of scope to add players from off the street over the course of the season.

Last year's practice squad

The Jets had a total of 23 different players on last year's practice squad, 10 of whom were rookies. Fourteen of those 23, including six of the rookies, are still with the team and on the current 90-man roster.

Over the past few years the Jets have done a lot less tinkering with the practice squad than they did while Mike Tannenbaum was the general manager. John Idzik only signed a total of 29 players to the practice squad in 2013 and 2014, while back in 2011 and 2012, Tannenbaum signed a total of 60, albeit that several of those were players went onto and off the squad a few times. While Mike Maccagnan's activity last year was higher than Idzik's, several additions were short-term, late-season auditions, so his approach doesn't have much in common with Tannenbaum, who of course operated with smaller eight-man squads.

Despite the relative lack of activity, there was actually only one player who remained on the practice squad all year: Rookie defensive lineman Deion Barnes. That said, there were several players who spent most of the year on the squad. Simon and Harrison started off on the active roster, then spent the rest of the year on the practice squad when the team needed their spot. Jones, Saxton and Julian Howsare also spent most of the year on there. Jones was activated for the final game, Saxton was activated for one game in Week 4 before being added back and Howsare had a three-week gap when he was released but then reinstated. Martin also spent half the year on the practice squad and the other half on the active roster.

A few of the players were added late in the season, presumably just to get a look at them with a view to signing them to a futures deal after the season. From that group, Julian Stanford and Brandon Bostick are still with the team. Titus Davis, who had already had a stint on the practice squad earlier in the season, is another such player.

The Jets made good use of the extension to the rules in order to place players on the practice squad that wouldn't otherwise have qualified. They did this with Daryl Richardson and Matt Simms in 2014, and Mike Catapano and Kenbrell Thompkins -- each of whom eventually made their way onto the active roster -- in 2015.

Who are good candidates for the 2016 practice squad?

The extension to the new rules this year affords the Jets a wider selection of players from which to choose. With that in mind, there typically seem to be three types of players you would want to fill out your practice squad with.

First, anyone who almost made the roster as a reserve is useful to keep around in case an injury creates the need for the Jets to fill in on the active roster. Johnson is a good example of this from last year's team. Secondly, a team will look to retain anyone who is a developmental prospect. This could be either because they have technical or physical limitations they need to work on to realize their potential or because they are learning a new position. Howsare, having transitioned to full back, and Barnes, who needed to add some strength, are good examples from last year. Finally, they might look to fill out the squad with some professional players with strong character, simply because they can rely upon them to work hard and do a good job on the scout team.

From the potential fill-in category, there might be a defensive back such as Bailey or McDougle if the team can't find room for them on the active roster. It might also be a good place to stash a receiver, perhaps one that can also return kicks and brings some upside like Jalin Marshall or Chandler Worthy. Offensive line reinforcements are also useful to have, so a player like Dozier or Johnson could also find his way onto here.

In terms of players with developmental potential, it's best to to be careful about who is placed on the practice squad because if there's a high-profile player with potential, then another team could poach them. In such situations, the team might instead opt to preserve their rights by stashing them on the roster as a healthy scratch all year as the Jets did with Dozier in 2014, or at least keep them on there until the early season player movement settles down, as they did with Harrison and Simon last year.

With that in mind, the Jets likely wouldn't risk putting someone like Christian Hackenberg or -- if he shows promise -- Brandon Shell on the practice squad. However, it could be a good spot for one of their undrafted rookie defensive linemen or their only undrafted rookie offensive lineman, Kyle Friend. Other interesting potential development options include Bryce Petty, Tom Hackett and converted-tight end Jason Vander Laan.

Bishop would also be a good candidate and remaining on the practice squad would earn him approximately double what he would have earned if he stayed in the CFL, so that's a worthwhile and achievable target for him to shoot for that would justify his decision to leave Canada to try and earn an NFL job.

Conclusions

While it's obviously far too early to project who will be viable practice squad candidates, it's still interesting to look at some recent trends to get some idea of what the team's approach might be in 2016.

The importance of the practice squad is something that can be both understated and overstated at times. Nevertheless, there are usually some contributors each season that had spent time there. In addition to Thompkins and Catapano, the likes of Brent Qvale, Rontez Miles and Marcus Williams have all spent time on the practice squad over the past couple of seasons, but went on to contribute for the Jets last season.

Heading into the 2016 season, I'm sure Maccagnan will make productive use of the practice squad. If used correctly, it enables you to effectively extend the active roster by a few spots and retain the rights of some promising players that you can continue to develop until they're ready to contribute.

Tags: Ben Ijalana , Bryce Petty , Calvin Pryor , Dakota Dozier , Deon Simon , Dexter McDougle , Jace Amaro , Jarvis Harrison , Julian Howsare , Mike Catapano , Ronald Martin , T.J. Barnes , Taiwan Jones , Trevor Reilly , Wes Saxton
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