Monday, March 22, 2010

Marty Lyons & Joe Klecko to Help Honor Brandon Steiner

All Jets fans know Marty Lyons and Joe Klecko, as members of the famed "Sack Exchange," and they are considered two of the best defensive linemen to ever play for the New York Jets. Lyons is also known now as part of the Jets radio broadcast team, providing color analysis.

However, both also spend a great deal of time and effort supporting charitable causes. On Thursday, April 29th, Lyons and Klecko will be on hand at the Family Services of Westchester STAR Gala at the Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle, NY to honor Brandon and Mara Steiner. Brandon Steiner is the CEO and founder of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia.

Family Services of Westchester, which is more than 50 years old, offers a variety of social and mental services to families in Westchester County.

Lyons and Klecko will join other sports celebrities including Lawrence Taylor (Giants), Ozzie Smith (Padres/Cardinals), Earl Monroe (Knicks) and Dwight Gooden (Mets/Yankees).

Roy Firestone will be master of ceremonies. Among other sports figures expected to attend are, Tiki Barber (Giants), Joe Morris (Giants), George Martin (Giants), Carl Banks (Giants), Mookie Wilson (Mets), John Starks (Knicks), Anthony Mason (Knicks/Nets) and Carl Duhon (Knicks).

Tickets are $300 per person and include dinner, dancing and an auction. Special VIP tickets are available for $750 each, which include a special VIP cocktail reception prior to the dinner. Junior VIP tickets are available to children under the age of 18 for $450, but must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Deborah Wilson at 914-937-2320 x116.

See you there!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Free Agency update

Free agency continues to pick up steam as the Jets sign LaDainian Tomlinson. The future Hall-of-Fame running back, drafted in 2001 by the San Diego Chargers had started and played in all but one game in his career, up until 2009 when injuries sidelined him for two games.

In 2006 Tomlinson was named league MVP.

Although Tomlinson will serve as a back-up to Shonn Greene, the team clearly expects a significant contribution from him. In addition, as one Jets player told me, "Tomlinson is a team-first guy. Thomas Jones was a me-first guy."

The Jets have now shored up a couple of positions with the addition of Tomlinson and his former San Diego teammate, cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

After cutting Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, I would expect to see the Jets target another corner in the Draft. I would think they would be looking at wide receivers too.

Someone to keep an eye on - Alan Faneca. The 12-year veteran is getting close to the end of his career and he has an enormous contract. If Faneca doesn't decide to retire in the next few weeks, the Jets could look to trade him around the Draft. Offensive lineman Rob Turner could likely transition easily in the left guard spot, especially given the fact that the other four linemen are all returning. However, he would probably have to compete with Matt Slauson for the job.

Odds and ends - in addition to Kerry Rhodes being traded to the Cardinals, and free agent WR/ST Wallace Wright signing with the Panthers, LB Marques Murrell, also a free agent who played mostly on special teams has signed with the Patriots.

Nothing new on the James Dearth or Leon Washington fronts.

The really big news of the day (pun intended), is the fact that Rex Ryan underwent lap-band surgery yesterday. He has tried a variety of ways to lose weight in the past, including starting a liquid diet on the first day of training camp last year (because he apparently needed a bigger challenge than simply his first training camp as a head coach). I'm sure Ryan will be the first one to provide regular updates on the procedure and the specifics of his weight loss.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kerry is A Cardinal

Well, just one day after GM Mike Tannenbaum said the safety Kerry Rhodes would remain with the Jets "unless something changes," something changed. Last night the Jets shipped Rhodes to the Cardinals in exchange for two Draft picks - a fourth round this year and a seventh round in 2011.

It is difficult to say that this is a surprise. Rhodes had been at odds with the team and was benched in mid-season due both to his perceived attitude and performance.

His lack of interceptions this season were also a significant source of concern to the coaching staff.

Nicknamed "Hollywood" by his teammates, there was also a perception both among the staff and the players that football might not be Rhodes' priority, when stacked against his off-the-field projects and events.

As one player told me, "If do your job well, those things (movie roles, magazine layouts, etc.) will come." Rhodes' choice to chase those things while playing were seen as splitting his focus and taking away from his performance.

The team has some options at safety. Eric Smith, who the team tendered last week and who filled in well for Rhodes when Rhodes is benched, remains on the team, as done James Ihedigbo who continued to show improvement through the season as well. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team go after this position in the Draft and another trade or free agent pickup is never out of the question.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Antonio Cromartie's Fresh Start

Antonio Cromartie was introduced to the New York media today during a conference call. Both he and GM Mike Tannenbaum referred to this as a "fresh start" with all the usual optimism.

Regarding his tackling Cromartie said, "I have not been the best tackler at times in my career. That's something I'm truly working on this offseason."

And then regarding the topic people really want to talk about, his off-the-field issues, he has been named in a reported five different paternity suits over the past couple of years.

"I have seven kids living in five different states," he admitted today. "I made some wrong decisions my first two years in the NFL. Now I have to take on the responsibility of being a father to my kids."

As far as those paternity suits and the accompanying child support issues, "Those things are being taken care of as we speak," he said, "and they are being handled in the right way."

The good news for the Jets is that Cromartie will play out the last year of his current contract so no big investment until they see what they're getting. As for Cromartie, he better play well if he's going to get a new contract that will pay him enough to take care of all those kids.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And It Begins

So, the free agency period has begun. I must admit, the whole thing makes my head spin. Thank you to MG and JW for clearing up some a few nagging questions I had about some of the rules.

Following the release of Thomas Jones that was announced earlier in the week, the first big move of the day, although not at all unexpected, was the release of Lito Sheppard. He's truly a great guy, but had a couple of really bad games that, together with the money factor, just didn't bode well for him.

I would think the Jets will be looking long and hard at first-round cornerbacks come April.

The team has tendered a bunch of players. I'm just going to give you the list, along with the compensation that the Jets would receive in the 2010 Draft if they decide not to match another team's offer and let that player go. They have seven days to make the decision once an offer is made:

Leon Washington - 2nd round pick
Braylon Edwards - 1st and 3rd round picks
Kellen Edwards - 3rd round pick (this is due to the fact that the Jets already have Leon equal to a 2nd round.
Brad Smith - 2nd round pick
Wayne Hunter - 3rd round pick
Eric Smith - 3rd round pick
Drew Coleman - 6th round pick
James Ihedigbo - Right of first refusal. (If another team gives him an offer that the Jets don't want to match, the Jets will not receive any compensation for him.)

The free agents are:

Howard Green
Marques Murrell
Wallace Wright

Unrestricted free agents are:

James Dearth
Marques Douglas
Jay Feely
Ryan Fowler
Ben Hartsock
Larry Izzo
Tony Richardson

The Jets can sign as many restricted free agents as they like. The rules for unrestricted free agents as far as the Jets are concerned, are that they can't sign one unless they lose one.

Hard to say at this point how everything is going to go. I know the big question is Leon Washington and his agent put his chances at returning to the Jets as 50-50. We'll see. That would be a big loss.

The Jets signed long snapper Tanner Purdham a couple of weeks ago, so that could signal the end of the James Dearth era, but he's beaten out other guys before.

I would expect to see Tony Richardson return.

Nick Folk, who most recently kicked for the Cowboys was recently signed, but I think this is more for mini-camp and training camp competition for Feely.

The talk about Larry Izzo after he was placed on Injured Reserve with a neck injury was that he might retire. Nothing has been said about that one way or the other at this point. Special Teams coach Mike Westhoff loves Izzo, and rightly so, the guy has had an outstanding career, but it might be time for him to be done.

I'll keep you posted as things happen or as I hear them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thomas Jones to Be Released

As expected the Jets have just announced that they will release running back Thomas Jones on March 5th (Friday). Jones joined the team in 2007 after three years with the Chicago Bears. He was drafted in 2000 by the Arizona Cardinals where he spent three years before moving on to Tampa Bay for one season. He led the AFC in rushing in 2008.

Jones was due a $3 million roster bonus next week.

Here are the statements from GM Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Rex Ryan regarding Jones' release:

It is still possible that the team will re-sign Jones at some point.

Statement from New York Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum:
“We have informed Thomas Jones and his representatives that we will release him on March 5. Thomas joined us three years ago and has been a productive, passionate leader both on and off the field who has served as a positive influence for our younger players. We were fortunate to acquire Thomas and wish him the best.”
Statement from New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan:
“When I got here Thomas immediately became one of my guys. He had one of his best years last season – might have been his best. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and a person. As I said the other day, this is one of the tough decisions we had to make for our organization.”