SNY NFL Insider

Ralph Vacchiano

Ralph Vacchiano, award-winning sports reporter and columnist, joined SNY in 2016 as its NFL Insider. Vacchiano will cover the Giants and Jets beats for SNY.tv and be a regular contributor to "Daily News Live" and "GEICO SportsNite." Vacchiano comes to SNY following 15 years as the New York Giants beat writer and columnist for the New York Daily News.

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Vacchiano graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 and began his professional career covering the Buffalo Bills for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and later covered the Giants and Jets for the North Jersey Herald & News in Passaic, N.J.. During his 19 years at the Daily News, he also covered the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils (1997-2001), and in 2008 he wrote his first book, Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback (Skyhorse Publishing).

 

Vacchiano lives with his wife, Kara, and his daughter, Alexandra, in West Caldwell, N.J.

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

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

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

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

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

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

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

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

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 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

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

GIANTS SALARY CAP SPACE

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

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

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

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

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Jamal Adams highlights 00:01:05
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of LSU safety Jamal Adams.

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

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

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Cam Robinson highlights 00:01:24
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Alabama OT Cam Robinson.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Now that the big-money part of NFL free agency is over, teams have begun increasingly focusing on the NFL draft, and their first-round targets are becoming a little clearer. So here's SNY's weekly look at the top players on board for the Giants as they prepare to make the 23rd overall pick of the NFL draft on April 27:

1.OT Garett Bolles, Utah - After dissecting the Giants' free-agent activity, it's hard to see them not focusing on a tackle in the first round (or least somewhere in the first couple of rounds). Yes, they'll say they take the "best available player," but "need" is always a strong factor in their pick and how they organize their draft board. The fact is they have questions at both tackles - Ereck Flowers needs a lot of work on the left side, and no one knows who the right tackle will be (presumably it's D.J. Fluker, but he said he was signed to play guard). Also, Fluker and left guard Justin Pugh (a potential tackle candidate) are unsigned beyond this season. They desperately need a young tackle and Bolles, a 6-5, 297-pounder who will make a pre-draft visit to the Giants, might be the best of an underwhelming group. (Last report: 1)

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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

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It wasn't Adrian Peterson or even LeGarrette Blount, but the Giants have found the veteran running back they've been searching for this offseason.

Shaun Draughn, a 29-year-old journeyman who spent the last season-and-a-half with the San Francisco 49ers, has agreed to terms on a contract with the Giants, the team announced Wednesday. The 5-11, 205-pounder is a power back, who has some skills as a receiver.

He's also joining his ninth team in his seven-year NFL career...

Tags: Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Ralph Vacchiano
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Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)
Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

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Giants GM Jerry Reese was at North Carolina's Pro Day on Tuesday, which in itself isn't news - after all, that's what general managers do. Maybe it means something. Maybe it doesn't.

But since the star of UNC's Pro Day was quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it sure did get some people wondering: Are the Giants preparing to draft Eli Manning's replacement in this draft?

It would seem unlikely, especially in a high round, but it can't be completely ruled out since Reese himself said he would consider trying to find his next franchise quarterback this offseason. There are some good reasons not to do it this year, and some good reasons why now might be the time.

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

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

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

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

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

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

Or so we all thought.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich reacts after stopping Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich reacts after stopping Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Mark Herzlich has made a career out of defying the odds and exceeding everyone's expectations. Now it appears he's done it again.

The 29-year-old linebacker will be back for his seventh season with the Giants after signing a new contract with the team on Monday. He was used almost exclusively on special teams last season, though he has proven at times to be a useful fill-in at linebacker, where he's started 17 games in his six years.

In his career, though, Herzlich has become one of the leaders in the Giants locker room -- a respected and steady veteran voice, who is popular among his teammates, coaches and ownership. He's been a team favorite since making the Giants as an undrafted rookie back in 2011.

Tags: Mark Herzlich, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Jim Brown)
(Jim Brown)

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The Giants added some depth in the secondary and some help on special teams when they signed cornerback Valentino Blake on Monday.

The 5-9, 198-pounder -- formerly known as Antwon Blake before deciding to go by his middle name last year -- has spent time with the Jaguars, Steelers, and Titans during his five-year NFL career. He started 16 games for the Steelers in 2015, picking off two passes -- one of which he returned 70 yards for a touchdown -- forcing one fumble and recording one sack...

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

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Geno Smith still envisions himself as a starting quarterback, which is one thing the Giants absolutely don't need. In fact, the Giants don't expect to need one until at least the 2020 season, when Smith will turn 30 and will probably be long gone.

That's why Smith's decision to sign with the Giants -- and to a lesser extent, the Giants' decision to sign Smith -- is so strange. For a player looking for a fresh start, hoping to re-establish his value, and desperate to compete for a starting job, the last thing that makes sense is for him to remain in New York to be the second- or maybe third-stringer behind Eli Manning, who hasn't missed a game in his 13-year NFL career.

Yet here we are, with the 26-year-old ex-Jets quarterback now officially a Giant after he passed his physical on Monday and is expected to sign what the NFL Network says is a one-year, $2 million deal. The Giants also signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson on Friday, so as long as Smith's repaired ACL is strong enough, it'll be a heck of a training camp battle between the two to see who gets to hold Manning's hat.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (William Hauser (USA Today))
(William Hauser (USA Today))

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When the NFL free-agent signing period began, almost everyone assumed that Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was about to strike it rich. The only question seemed to be how close he'd get to the five-year, $46.25 million contract the Giants gave defensive tackle Damon Harrison last season, or whether he had a shot to exceed it.

A bit over a week after the market opened, though, the 24-year-old Hankins remains unsigned and the market for defensive tackles has collapsed around him. So now, as free-agency begins its second, far-less-lucrative wave, the big, unanswered question about Hankins is this:

What the heck happened?

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

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

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

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

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

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GEICO SportsNite: Giants moves 00:02:28
Jeane Coakley and Ralph Vacchiano discuss Jason Pierre Paul's decision to stay with the Giants and the addition of Geno Smith.

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It was just over 20 months ago that the first call was made to the Giants' offices with a scary report that lacked many important details. Their star defensive end had been involved in a fireworks accident, and no one could tell them how bad it really was.

In the days that followed, as they struggled to get information, the anger inside their offices grew. By the time the extent of the damage to Jason Pierre-Paul's right hand was clear, his NFL future was in doubt. And if he had one, it sure looked like his bridge back to the Giants had been burned.

Less than two years later, JPP's miracle return is complete. He's not just an NFL player, he's again one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, and a key cog in the Giants' defense. He's also once again a big part of the Giants' future, which they secured on Friday when they signed him to a massive, four-year, $62 million deal...

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Mark Hoffman)
(Mark Hoffman)

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

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

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

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 (Ron Schwane/AP)
(Ron Schwane/AP)

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Bobby Hart went from a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft to a mainstay in the Giants' starting lineup the next year. And he gets to cash a big check for that.

The 22-year-old Hart, who started 13 games at right tackle last season for the Giants, led his team in performance-based compensation from the NFL, getting a bonus of $361,072 for his efforts. The bonus was so big, in fact, that it ranked 19th among all performance-based pay recipients in the NFL for 2016.

The annual bonus distribution is a way for the NFL and NFL Players Association to make sure that lower-salaried players are compensated for excellent performances, without counting against a team's salary cap. Hart, in the second year of his rookie deal, earned a $525,000 salary in 2016, so his bonus was worth about 69 percent of that...

Tags: Bobby Hart, Devon Kennard, Will Tye, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

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

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

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

Tags: Ben Ijalana, Rontez Miles, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Hoffman)
Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Hoffman)

In today's Giants mailbag, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano talks about the club re-signing Jonathan Hankins and if the signing of free agent Rhett Ellison really solved the Giants' tight end issues...

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Any chance the Giants re-sign Hankins -- @gpbloom

My standard answer to this is that as long as he's unsigned, there's always a chance. And that's true, even in this case. But the situation is a bit complicated.

First, nearly everyone I talked to around the league thought Hankins was in for a big-money free agent deal - one that would be close to, but probably not exceed what the Giants gave DT Damon Harrison last March. Suffice to say, a lot of people are stunned that his market never developed and it's looking more and more like he's going to have to play next season on a one-year, "prove-it" deal...

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

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

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

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Oct 16, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts to a referee's call during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 16, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts to a referee's call during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

It's funny (or not), but a week into free agency the questions about the Giants are largely the same ones most people had at the end of the season. A few things have cleared up, but not much has changed.

So let's get right to it. Here's the latest offseason edition of our SNY Giants Twitter Mailbag - the first since free agency began:


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Are the Giants forced to spend a 1st or 2nd rd pick on OL given we didn't land any of the top FAs -- @D_Ricker81

I don't know if they're forced to do anything, really. I think an offensive lineman in one of those spots would be a good idea, and I think they're likely to do it...

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

Update: 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

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

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

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

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

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

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

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

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

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

Cadet was also weighing an offer from the Bills.

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

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

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

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

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

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

Tags: Darrelle Revis, Darron Lee, David Harris, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)
Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)

Latest Updates (Mar. 13)

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

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

 

Tags: Darron Lee, David Harris, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Matthew Emmons)
(Matthew Emmons)

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The Giants don't have a ton of salary cap room. In fact, at the moment they really don't have any. So even if they make some cuts or restructure some contracts, they're likely to shop mostly in free agency's bargain bin.

The thing about the bargain bin, though, is that you can sometimes find real bargains -- valuable players that can actually help, for a price that is pretty low. So here are five still-available players the Giants might want to consider -- if, of course, their price is right:

RB LeGarrette Blount (Patriots) - He's 30 years old and his body has taken a beating over the years, so even though he's coming off his first 1,000-yard season since 2010 (1,161 yards), no one thinks he's a No. 1 back anymore. What he is is a 250-pound battering ram and a terrific goal-line back who had 18 touchdowns last season. The Giants, who have been a disaster in goal-line and short-yardage rushing in recent years, sure could use that kind of power in the backfield, and he could be the ideal complement to the smaller, speedier, shiftier, Paul Perkins...

Tags: Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Clady, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Matt Kartozian)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

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

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

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

Tags: Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Matt Kartozian)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 (Orlando Jorge Ramirez)
(Orlando Jorge Ramirez)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

With almost no salary cap space left to spend - at least at the moment - the Giants are still trying to upgrade their offensive line. And their first step will be to meet with former first-round pick D.J. Fluker.

The Giants are interested in the 6-5, 339-pound guard/tackle who was released by the Chargers on Tuesday, according to an NFL source, and they are bringing him in for a free agent visit. They are serious about signing him, another source said, assuming the price is right.

Fluker, the 11th overall pick in 2013, would be a big addition for the Giants. Though he never quite lived up to his draft status, he was a solid four-year starter in San Diego. He started all but five games, including 21 at tackle and 28 at guard - exactly the kind of versatility the Giants like to have...

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Maccagnan's seat warming up? 00:02:42
Jon Hein and Dan Graca discuss if Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan should be on the hot seat as the Jets enter free agency.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

The first few hours of the NFL's free-agent frenzy didn't clear up the Jets' quarterback question, but the landscape changed a bit and may have increased their options. Jay Cutler, as expected, is now available. And Brock Osweiler, unexpectedly, is available too.

So what are the Jets doing and who are they looking at, and do they have any idea who their quarterback will be in 2017?

Here's a look at their current options, just a few hours after the market opened with the Jets standing relatively still:

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Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants place kicker Robbie Gould (5) kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants place kicker Robbie Gould (5) kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

Giants free agent K Robbie Gould will sign a two-year deal with the 49ers, the team confirmed Thursday night.

New York signed Gould last Oct. 20 after Josh Brown was suspended and ultimately released due to domestic abuse allegations.

The 35-year-old connected on all 10 of his field goal tries and was successful on 20-of-23 extra point attempts in 10 regular season games with the Giants. He remained perfect with two more field goals and a successful extra point attempt in New York's 38-13 Wild Card loss to the Packers.

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Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin (95) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Mark J. Rebilas)
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin (95) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Mark J. Rebilas)

The Jets have re-signed LB/ST Josh Martin to a two-year, $4.3 million deal, the team announced Thursday night.

The fourth-year pro played in a career-high 15 games for New York last season, primarily on special teams.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

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Giants addressing needs in FA? 00:02:34
The DNL panel discusses what the Giants biggest remaining needs are in free agency as the NFL New Year officially begins.

The Giants have agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth $18 million with TE/FB Rhett Ellisonreports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

$8 million of the deal will be fully guaranteed.

Ellison, 28, had nine catches for 57 yards and one touchdown last season for the Minnesota Vikings.

Tags: Devon Kennard, Ereck Flowers, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Darrelle Revis 00:04:54
The Jets informed Darrelle Revis of his impending release next week amid issues off the field and declining performance on the field.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Darrelle Revis' long and sometimes stormy tenure with the Jets has officially come to an end.

The Jets released the 31-year-old on Thursday, on the first day of the NFL's new league year. It was "100 percent" a football decision, according to a team source, and not at all related to his recent legal troubles in Pittsburgh.

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LM on star receivers joining up 00:03:26
Jon and Marc analyze what impact the veteran WR Brandon Marshall will have on the young Odell Beckham Jr..

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

It may be showtime for the Giants offense now that Brandon Marshall has signed on, but his appearances on Showtime may be over.

Marshall, who had been one of the highest profile Jets the last two years and a weekly panelist on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," said he plans to cut back on his media appearances now that he's signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Giants. It was unclear if that was his choice or something the Giants asked him to do.

But he certainly sounded like he was done with Showtime show.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Ralph Vacchiano
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Marshall's impact on Giants 00:03:13
Marc and Jon debate whether adding a star wideout in Brandon Marshall makes the Giants immediate Super Bowl contenders

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

After 11 seasons in the NFL with not a single taste of the playoffs and a string of mediocre (or worse) quarterbacks throwing him passes, Brandon Marshall had enough. That's why he insisted his trip to free agency wasn't going to be driven by money.

And he said he proved that by signing with the Giants when he had a chance to go elsewhere and make more.

"They definitely didn't offer me the most money," Marshall said on a conference call with the media on Wednesday. "It was probably the least money. It was all about championships, to get straight to the point. It was all about a championship. They presented the best opportunity to be in a championship organization."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Ralph Vacchiano
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What are the Jets' QB options? 00:02:56
With some quarterbacks already off the market as NFL free agency approaches, the panel discusses which options the Jets will look at.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

Mike Glennon appears to be headed to Chicago. Brian Hoyer is reportedly headed to San Francisco. Tyrod Taylor is staying in Buffalo.

So now what are the quarterback-starved Jets supposed to do?

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What are the Jets QB options? 00:02:56
With some quarterbacks already off the market as NFL free agency approaches, the panel discusses which options the Jets will look at.

LATEST UPDATE: Brian Hoyer will reportedly sign a two-year deal with the 49ers on Thursday, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

The Jets know they absolutely need to find a franchise quarterback at some point - a young, talented player who they can build around for the next 5 or hopefully 10-plus years.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ralph Vacchiano
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Marshall inks deal with Giants 00:04:14
SNY insider Pat Leonard breaks down what the Brandon Marshall signing means for the Giants' team chemistry.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

The Giants made a much bigger splash into the free agent pool than anyone expected, landing one of the biggest receivers they've had in years.

On the eve of the opening of the free-agent signing period, the Giants signed receiver Brandon Marshall, an 11-year veteran who was released last week by the Jets. The 6-4, 230-pounder is exactly the kind of big target on the outside the Giants have so desperately needed to take some of the heat off of Odell Beckham, Jr..

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium.  (William Hauser (USA Today))
Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The NFL free agency period is about to start, and the Giants are expected to spend it sitting on the sidelines. Prices, as usual, already seem out of control and the Giants just don't have the salary cap room to spend.

That doesn't mean that nothing of interest will happen with or to the Giants when the market opens. So now that teams are legally allowed to talk, here are five things to watch in the hours before 4 p.m. Thursday when the signing period officially starts:

1. The explosion of the market for DT Johnathan Hankins. Never underestimate the crazy sizes of NFL deals, not when the market is loaded with mediocre players and teams have over $1 billion in cap room to spend. Hankins, all of 25 years old, is probably one of the three best defensive tackles on the market. And another one, Dontari Poe, is reportedly seeking $10 million per season. A month ago, an NFL agent told me Hankins wouldn't get near the five-year $46.25 million contract the Giants gave Damon Harrison last year. But I wouldn't bet against it.

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Taylor make sense for the Jets? 00:02:39
The DNL crew discusses if Tyrod Taylor would be a good fit as the next quarterback for the New York Jets.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Todd Bowles warned that things can get "crazy" in free agency, especially when it comes to available quarterbacks. And the market for Mike Glennon is starting to look like it might be a little too crazy for the Jets.

Just a few hours into the "legal tampering" period, several NFL sources said it appeared that Glennon was destined to end up with the Chicago Bears -- his "preferred destination," according to one report. Another report said the Jets were already "out" of the bidding. And while that wasn't immediately known, a league source said that Glennon's price tag is expected to end up in the neighborhood of $15 million per season.

That almost certainly will be out of the Jets' range...

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Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith tackles New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today Sports Images)
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith tackles New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv:

The Giants have always been intrigued by the potential of running back Orleans Darkwa -- just not enough to pay him $1.797 million.

An NFL source confirmed that the Giants will not be tendering the 25-year-old restricted free agent, making him an unrestricted free agent as of 4 p.m. on Thursday. There have been some discussions about Darkwa returning at a lesser price, but a source indicated he will test the free agent market first.

Tags: Kerry Wynn, Orleans Darkwa, Ralph Vacchiano
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