There would be no bombshells this afternoon at Mike Tannenbaum’s year-ending news conference.
At different points, Mr. T was asked if he thought RB Thomas Jones, S Kerry Rhodes, RB Leon Washington, WR Braylon Edwards and LB Vernon Gholston would return in 2010 and the answer was yes each time.
The 31-year-old Jones, who led New York’s AFC representative with a career-best 1,402 yards and a franchise-record 14 TDs, was held to just 2.6 yards a carry and 117 yards in the playoffs while rookie Shonn Greene ripped off a 5.6 average and 304 yards over three games.
“There are some economic issues that obviously have to be looked at over the next month, but you know, we hope that [Jones] is back," Tannenbaum said. "He’s done a lot for our team — both on and off the field. Rex has talked about what he’s done from a leadership standpoint. We look at his production and it’s really remarkable, but it’s a testament to TJ.”
A day after Rhodes told SNY that he wanted to remain with the Green & White, the Jets GM was asked about the reported roster bonuses due to both Rhodes and Jones in March.
“You still have budgets you have to hit, you still have targets that you have to be at. Then also, we don’t know what the new system would be and you have to be prepared that you can transition from capped to uncapped as well,” he said. “I certainly don’t know when we get it done what it might look like, so we have to be prepared for that as well. These are always tough judgment calls and we will always do what’s best for the Jets.”
The team will place tenders on Edwards, Washington and backup QB Kellen Clemens. Edwards was viewed as a vertical threat and a strong blocker by defenses that were forced to play differently against the offense with him in the lineup. A return of a healthy Washington would give the Jets even more explosion and Tannenbaum stockpiled quarterbacks last season to get in a favorable position.
“If another team came along and was interested in Kellen, we will certainly evaluate that. When we traded for Kevin O’Connell, that was certainly a thought in my mind,” Mr. T said. “We may not have Kellen forever, and that was something that Ron Wolf always talked to me about — get a quarterback every year. And so I like to deal from a position of strength when it comes to that depth.”
Although Gholston hasn’t met expectations, the Jets’ 2008 first-round pick will in all likelihood get another shot in 2010.
“He has not played as well as he has hoped or we would have hoped,” said Tannenbaum. “The attributes of why we drafted him are what give me hope. He has a really a great work ethic, he’s 23 years old, and this is going to be an important offâ€‘season for him.”
Due a reported $10 million roster bonus if he remains with the club, CB Lito Sheppard, many think, will not be a part of the Jets’ future plans.
“We have not finalized any decision on Lito yet, but what’s interesting from my standpoint … Rex loves small guys, which is really the antithesis of what you would think of a big, blitzing defense. He loves DBs,” said Tannenbaum.
If no new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, the NFL will enter into a “Final League Year” on March 5, featuring no salary cap and restrictions on free agency. After finishing in the NFL’s "final four," the Jets would operate under some constrictions.
“We can’t sign one [unrestricted free agent] until we would lose one," Tannenbaum said, "and that’s someone whose contract expires and they have been in the league for six or more seasons. If a player gets cut by another team, they become a free agent and we would be able to sign them.
“We would also be able to sign a restricted free agent that was tendered by another team and obviously trades are another possibility. But we cannot sign an unrestricted free agency, one whose contract expires, until one of our unrestricted free agents signs with another team.”
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington, Lito Sheppard, Mike Tannenbaum, Thomas Jones, Vernon Gholston
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