NFL Free Agency: Grading the New York Jets After Week One
Al Bello/Getty Images
After re-signing Santonio Holmes, the Jets remained quiet in the free agent market while pursuing the top player available, former Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Once he signed with the Eagles, New York moved on to fill their needs.
The Jets brought in Plaxico Burress, seemingly to take the place of the soon-to-be-departed Braylon Edwards, and also re-signed cornerback Antonio Cromartie. How do these moves compare to what they could have done?
Re-Signing Santonio Holmes
Santonio Holmes made "flying like a Jet" a habit after returning from suspension last season.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Jets wasted little time once the lockout ended in re-signing their top receiver, Santonio Holmes. Holmes was the team's top offensive playmaker from Week 5 until season's end as LaDainian Tomlinson's play faded.
Every media outlet reported that Holmes should have been the Jets' top priority this offseason and they were all right. Nnamdi Asomugha may be a better corner than Holmes is a receiver, but the Jets had a much better chance at retaining Holmes and a bigger need at the wide receiver position.
Losing Holmes would have been disastrous for New York as the only other potential No. 1 receiver on the market, the Vikings' Sidney Rice, showed little interest in coming to the East Coast and signed with Seattle as quickly as Holmes re-upped with the Jets.
Braylon Edwards is not a No. 1 receiver, but missing out on Holmes would have led the Jets to re-signing Edwards as their top gun. The Jets absolutely made the right move here and Holmes is well worth the five-year, $50 million contract he got.
Whiffing in the Nnamdi Asomugha Sweepstakes
Instead of New York. Nnamdi Asomugha will be making plays in a revamped Philadelphia secondary.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Nnamdi Asomugha was the prize of this free agent class, the consensus top player available. With the Raiders extremely strapped for cash, everybody knew Asomugha would be moving on from the Bay Area.
The early front-runners were the Jets, 49ers and Texans. But late last week the 49ers bowed out and the Texans signed Jonathan Joseph, leaving the Jets to compete with the Cowboys for Asomugha's services. At least those were the rumors.
Last Friday, NFL Network reported that both the Jets and Cowboys were out of the race. At the last minute, Philadelphia swooped in with a 5-year, $60 million offer to pair Asomugha with the recently acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
While there were mixed feelings on Asomugha coming to the Jets as far as the future salary cap was concerned, he still would have been an addition that could have put the Jets over the top and into the Super Bowl.
There were also questions about giving a 30-year-old corner a long contract, considering the potential for dropoff by the final two years of the deal.
In the end, considering the Jets re-signed Antonio Cromartie for four years, $32 million, just $4 million less per season than Asomugha got, I still think the ex-Raider was the better value.
Re-Signing Antonio Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie was one of the keys to the Jets defense last season. What does he have in store for year two?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
While it would have been nice to get Asomugha in a Jets uniform, once he landed in Philadelphia the Jets' best option was to re-sign Antonio Cromartie.
For all the negatives surrounding Cromartie, including his nine children with eight women and occasional lackadaisical attitude, he's an extremely talented player just entering his prime at age 27. Nobody has ever questioned his physical ability, which is that of a top-five corner in the NFL.
Age is the major advantage to retaining Cromartie over Asomugha, despite the latter's Pro Bowl background. Cromartie will be just 31 when his four-year, $32 million contract expires in 2015, while Asomugha will be 35 when his contract with the Eagles comes off the books.
Cromartie also has experience in the Jets defensive system and has proven his ability to lock down opposing receivers in man-to-man coverage, something a Rex Ryan defense relies on.
The Jets may have swung and missed in the Asomugha sweepstakes, but they rebounded nicely in their next at-bat by bringing back Cromartie. If he ever reaches his full potential, $8 million will be a bargain. Just as long as he doesn't rest on his laurels, the Jets won't regret bringing him back into the fold.
Signing Plaxico Burress, Shunning Braylon Edwards
This was the last time we saw Plaxico Burress, back in 2009. In 2011, he will be waearing a Jets jumpsuit.
Chris Gardner/Getty Images
Over the weekend, the Jets signed ex-Steeler, ex-Giant and ex-convict Plaxico Burress to a one-year, $3 million contract. After spending $10 million on Santonio Holmes and $8 million on Antonio Cromartie, this move definitely spelled the end of Braylon Edwards' tenure in New York.
Outside of his DWI, Edwards did everything right in New York. He made big plays down the field, limited dropped passes and was a more than capable blocker in the running game. Edwards will be missed, but his request for $8-10 million per season proved too rich for the Jets.
Regardless of how you feel about the fairness of Burress' sentence—I feel like New York mayor Mike Bloomberg was making an unfair example out of him—this is a football article, not a political one.
On that note, that fact remains that when Burress steps on the field in August, it will have been almost three full years since his last NFL action in November of 2008. To say that there will be an adjustment period for Burress is an understatement.
Many are comparing Burress' situation to Michael Vick's, but in reality the two are completely different. The only similarity is that both spent time in prison.
Vick went to jail just a few seasons into his NFL career and came out still in his prime. Vick is also arguably the league's most talented player and should continue to be an MVP candidate year in and year out.
Burress, on the other hand, will turn 34 on August 12. In nine career seasons, he has gone over 1,000 receiving yards four times and has two seasons with double-digit touchdowns, only one accompanying a 1,000-yard season.
Burress was not brought in to be the savior, or even to replace Edwards' numbers from last season (53 catches, 904 yards, seven touchdowns). He was brought in to give Mark Sanchez a big target in the red zone to go along with Holmes and Dustin Keller, both of whom have proven to be reliable targets inside the 20-yard-line.
Burress may be an older, slower version of Edwards and a definite downgrade, but considering the $5-7 million difference between the two, I don't mind having Burress instead. I didn't expect Edwards to return as the team's third (or even fourth) priority in free agency and out of the cheap receiver alternatives, Burress was my target over the now-retired Randy Moss.