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New York Jets Free Agency Rumors: What to Believe and What to Dismiss

Patrick CookContributor IFebruary 20, 2012

New York Jets Free Agency Rumors: What to Believe and What to Dismiss

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    There may be no other team in the National Football League with more vested in a free agency period than Rex Ryan and the New York Jets in 2012. With an incoming freshman draft class that is on the lighter side as far as significant game-changing talent is concerned, the Jets will have to find their saving grace(s) through the transactions made in free agency.

    With all of the banter back and forth between football analysts and pundits over whether or not the most recent incarnation of the Jets can succeed if given just one more chance, it has become pretty safe to say that there is a need for at least some addition and subtraction this offseason in Metropolis.

    Here is a quick look at some of those forecasted moves and whether or not they exist in the realm of real possibility.

Plaxico Is Shown the Door

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    The potential to see Plaxico Burress taking the field in 2012 for Gang Green depends on one factor. How much did Plaxico truly participate in the end-of-season hate fest that consumed the Jets in the final weeks of the 2011 season?

    Of course, there was endless speculation as to who comprised the group  of the “anonymous sources” that hurled cynical commentaries about their own team on a weekly basis, but I for one believe that the probability is relatively high that Plaxico had his own two cents chipped in there.

    If this is the case, and perhaps even if it isn’t, Burress’ lack of on-field productivity last season is likely to put him in a position to be made an example. It was widely acknowledged before coming to New York that the Plaxico Burress experiment in 2011 was exactly that: an experiment to see if he not only had the chops to regain status as a premier receiver in the NFL, but if he could return to form as a participant in the Jets offensive system.

    Burress failed to achieve either of those goals last season. Because of this, I do believe that the release of Burress to free agency may be the one forecasted scenario for the Jets that may be in the welcomed interests of both parties.

Wes Welker: Judas?

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    If there is any sport in the world where the age old mantra, “never say never” applies more often, it is in professional football.

    For every fan and so-called authority on the NFL who dismisses the unlikely and deems it impossible, Namath takes the field dressed in blue and yellow instead of green and white. Every time it is deemed unthinkable that the brightest of superstar free agent or trade flies the coup, Montana leads a Chiefs drive down the field against the Niners and Favre does the Lambeau leap with horns on his helmet, and not into the Lambeau faithful.

    So before the entire NFL fandom dismisses yet another potential seismic shift of team allegiance, think about how often in football history the impossible became possible. To see uber-Patriot Wes Welker in a New York Jets jersey, catching touchdown passes from anyone not named Brady, definitely ranks itself among the highly improbable, but not impossible.

    With all of the media soundbites taken from Rex Ryan as of late, it could be said that the bulbous head coach no longer wishes to be the center of media attention. He has proclaimed that he will no longer be the boisterous, guarantee-wielding gunslinger on the microphone we have come to know.

    Do not think for one second that any member of the Ryan family wants the spotlight on anyone else than them and their team at any given moment. It is the purest form of genetic heredity on earth today; all Ryans bathe themselves in headlines. This inherited disposition must always be fed, and what better way to keep that spotlight focused squarely on MetLife Stadium other than the poaching of Bill Belicheck’s primary receiver.

    We all, as fans, are constantly torn over the dichotomy of the NFL from players and administrators alike that our beloved game is simultaneously both “just a game” and “just business."

    Wes Welker becoming a New York Jet would put that divide under the most critical of microscopes. The Jets would have to bring quite a staggering offer to lure Welker away from Gillette Stadium, an offer that would be difficult to pass up if this is truly just a business.

Peyton...Peyton...Peyton

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    Is he staying? Is he going? Is he even going to play again? Will he ever be as good as he once was? How does Andrew Luck fit into the Colts equation? Good lord, I’m convinced that if there wasn’t the Peyton Manning exodus controversy going on right now in the NFL, there would be a whole lot of dead air on sports television.

    It seems like not an hour can pass by without someone, somewhere giving us new percentage data regarding how hard Peyton is throwing the football or giving us the most recent tweet from everyone’s favorite Twitter maniac, Jim Irsay. Will Peyton resume his Hall-of-Fame career with any other team other than the one he started it with?

    Should the Colts and their most prized possession decide in the end that it is in both of their interests to part ways, the Jets are in a prime position to reach out for a Tony Soprano-style sit down.

    Rumors of the Jets' interest in Manning were typically extinguished by fans and speculators alike over the past few months, with the argument that the Jets salary cap restrictions would prevent them from making an offer worthy of securing the superstar quarterback. I believe Manning’s recent declaration that he is willing to accept an incentive-laden contract that could be very low in front-loaded cash doubles the Jets' chances of winning the Manning sweepstakes.

    Who would have ever thought that the once-$100 million man could offer such a proposal? It is the equivalent of pricking your finger over a piranha tank as the acquisition of one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of professional football has suddenly become a no-risk investment.

Brandon Jacobs Switches Locker Rooms

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    Brandon Jacobs' recent comments detailed on ESPN.com suggested that the huge running back would be willing to consider offers from his MetLife Stadium neighbor.

    I would rank this among the least inspiring of all offseason rumors concerning the Jets, and while I would predict Jacob’s entry into the Jets locker room as another potential threat to the team’s vulnerable state of mind, I would also not be the least bit surprised if it actually came to fruition.

    The recent hiring of new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano reminds us all of the Jets' dedication to the ground-and-pound offensive approach that we have heard so much about ad nauseum for the past three years. If the 2012 draft chips fall in such a way that the Jets are not in a position to take a running back the likes of Trent Richardson by pick 16, the Jets will be looking for resources to help supplement the struggling Shonn Greene.

    In all reality, the performances of Brandon Jacobs very much mirror the behavior of the Jets in 2011: no bang for all the bluster. Other than the occasional flash of fierce running power that he has become synonymous with, Jacobs should consider himself very fortunate to be part of a championship Giants team that he provided very little to.

    I would hasten a guess that he would provide just the same to a Jets Super Bowl campaign.

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