Recapping the Jets' Moves During Free Agency

Gary G.Correspondent IMarch 1, 2009

The New York Jets signed...

Bart Scott

It had been speculation since the day Rex Ryan was named head coach of the New York Jets. One of the Ravens two inside linebackers, Bart Scott and Ray Lewis, who were set to become free agents, were going to be headed to New York.

In the end, Scott ended up joining the Jets after a chess match with the Ravens, signing a six-year, $48 million deal to come to New York.

Scott's abilities will help the Jets immensely as the team prepares to turn it over from Eric Mangini's defense to a much more complex Rex Ryan attack defense. With that said, acquiring a player from the Ryan defense in Baltimore is a huge plus for the Jets as they make the switch.

Scott has started 58 consecutive games for the Ravens and has helped pave the way for the Ravens to finish within the top six defenses in the NFL over the past four seasons as a starter.

While receiving $8 million per year, Scott is clearly going to be a three-down linebacker, lining up next to David Harris on the inside.

Yesterday, in a press conference with Rex Ryan, he stated that he can now switch Scott and Harris in and out from both inside linebacker positions to give identification problems to opposing offenses, something he was incapable of doing in Baltimore with Ray Lewis not being as versatile.


Lito Sheppard

Someone call the police! The Jets literally robbed a very talented cornerback named Lito Sheppard from the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday.

The Eagles mishandling of their cornerback situation this past season decreased the value of Sheppard, leaving them to have to settle for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional pick in next year's.

When the Eagles went out and signed free agent cornerback Asante Samuel to a six-year, $56 million contract, Lito Sheppard's playing time significantly dropped, while the tandem of Samuel and Sheldon Brown each started 15 games apiece.

The only knock on the two-time Pro Bowler is that he has never started a full season in his seven years in this league.

With Sheppard now in the fold though, the Jets have filled a void that they have desperately been in need of for about four years.

Pairing him with Darrelle Revis gives the Jets a solid cornerback tandem, one in which they haven't had since 2005 when Ty Law and David Barrett combined for 15 interceptions.


Brandon Moore

Despite being given the pink slip on Thursday afternoon, the Jets re-signed guard Brandon Moore, a mere two days later, but not before making a run at Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu, who eventually turned down the Jets offer and decided to re-sign with Pittsburgh.

Moore was due a $7 million roster bonus and the Jets chose to release him.

This quickly became an unpopular move among Jets fans. They did not want to disrupt the continuity of the current offensive line, which did an excellent job last season.

The front office found a way to make both the Jets fans and their cap situation happy, when they re-signed Moore to a four-year, $16 million deal.

I for one, was not one of the many Jet fans who were opposed to releasing Moore in the first place, because I felt the $7 million roster bonus was a bit much for my liking.

All in all, I am happy that Moore is back with the team, as you cannot deny the success that Thomas Jones and Leon Washington had behind this offensive line.

And with Brett Favre out of the mix and no other clear cut starter, the Jets are going to need to run the ball a lot once again in 2009.


Tony Richardson

The veteran fullback had a huge impact on Thomas Jones' AFC-leading 1,312 rushing yards and the rest of the running game. The 37-year-old Richardson is going to be a crucial part to the team in 2009 as head coach Rex Ryan plans to run the ball a lot.



Robert Royal

An interesting name that the Jets have brought in for a visit is former Bills tight end Robert Royal. The veteran is entering his eighth season in the NFL next year and could be an option to replace Chris Baker, who was a cap-saving cut last week.

Royal had a career-best 33 receptions for 351 yards and one score last season for the Bills.


Corey Ivy - Visited Friday

The Jets haven't really had a true nickelback since Ray Mickens. Signing Corey Ivy would likely help round out the Jets cornerback depth and would also give head coach Rex Ryan another player who knows his system to help ease the transition into his defense.

However, with the recent acquisition of Lito Sheppard, the Jets may be less inclined to go down this road now.

Ivy, 31, has played in 45 games under Ryan over the past three seasons, recording a total of 137 tackles with two interceptions, four forced fumbles, and seven and a half sacks.


Jim Leonhard - Visited Saturday

Prior to the start of free agency, almost every writer and analyst pegged safety Jim Leonhard to go to the Jets. Adam Schefter of the NFL Network continues to believe he will eventually re-unite with Rex Ryan sooner than later.

He is the perfect fit for a Rex Ryan defense and he did very well with the Ravens last season, recording 69 tackles with one interception and one sack. In addition to being a hard-nosed safety, Leonhard is also an exceptional return man.

If I had to guess, I'd pencil Leonhard in opposite Kerry Rhodes on my preliminary 2009 depth chart.


Interested In...

Kevin Jones

Pro Football Talk reported Friday morning that the Jets were among one of four teams that had interest in former Lions first-round running back Kevin Jones.

Jones, 26, has 3,176 career rushing yards and 24 touchdowns with 143 career receptions for 1,011 yards and three touchdown catches.

He would definitely interest me if he can remain healthy enough to make the 53-man roster. The Jets had veteran Jesse Chatman slotted in as their third-string running back last season, but a four-game suspension and a knee injury ended his season on the injured reserve.

Out of the four teams that were interested in him, Jones' best option would be the Bills, due to the fact that Marshawn Lynch could miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension from the league. This would likely give Jones the best opportunity to start and to get his career back on track.


Jay Feely

The Jets are finally moving on from Mike Nugent as their kicker. Finally! When Nugent went down with an injury in the first week of last season, the Jets signed former Dolphins kicker Jay Feely to a contract and he ended up playing the entire season as the team's kicker.

Feely did a very solid job for the Gang Green last season, going 24-for-28 in field goal attempts and making all 39 PATs. One of the more important stats here for me is that he was 2-2 in field goals from 50+ yards out and 4-5 in field goals between 40-49 yards out.

He has experience kicking in the swirling winds of Giants stadium, as he spent two season with the Giants in 2005 and 2006.

Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News has reported that the Jets are moving close to an agreement with the 32-year old.


Jabari Greer

Perhaps one of the better cornerbacks available on the market includes former Bill, Jabari Greer. The Jets reportedly had interest in Greer prior to the acquisition of Lito Sheppard. At this point, this option is off the table.

Overall, the Jets have had a pretty successful off-season so far when it comes to filling needs. The Jets found their replacement for Eric Barton by signing Bart Scott, and have grabbed a much-needed cornerback to play opposite Darrelle Revis.

Now if the Jets can pick up Leonhard, they should be set with their secondary and linebacking corps. It's unclear at this point what head coach Rex Ryan's thoughts are of Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman and if he sees a potential upgrade elsewhere at both of those defensive end positions.

Right now, the Jets have filled a few of their holes on the defensive side of the ball, but a couple remain on the offensive side with quarterback being the obvious need.

No matter how much Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum say they are comfortable with the quarterback situation, I fail to see them not even consider a quarterback at No. 17 overall.

The Jets also have a major hole to fill at wide receiver with the recent release of Laveranues Coles.

Lastly, the New England Patriots may have done the Jets a favor by trading Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs. With the Chiefs now set at quarterback, it now makes it highly unlikely that they will target a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick and with one less team looking for a signal caller, it puts the Jets in a better spot to grab one with the No. 17 overall pick.

Though, I'm not particularly in favor of going with a quarterback, as I am not all that impressed with the ones available outside of Stafford. I'll elaborate more as the draft comes closer, though.


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