Mike Tannenbaum had a conference call with Jets beat reporters this afternoon, and while there wasn’t a lot of hard news in the call, the GM did provide some tasty tidbits and interesting background on Jets subjects in the middle of the fourth day of the free agency signing period.
One of the main topics was the background to the Kerry Rhodes trade to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. Tannenbaum, who on a Friday call said he anticipated Rhodes being with the team in the off-season and into next season "and beyond" but cushioned that observation by saying "unless things change," admitted things did change quite a bit in the following 24 hours.
"I think Arizona’s position changed a little bit when they lost [Antrel] Rolle," Tannenbaum said. "For us it was a combination of economics, the two draft choices we were able to receive, and the fact that we like the depth at that position. … Once Rolle moved from Arizona to the Giants, that precipitated things moving quickly. Those are hard decisions, but again we felt it was in the best interests of the team."
Tannenbaum agreed that there were issues between Rhodes and the coaching staff this past season but nothing that couldn’t have been worked through had No. 25 remained in green and white.
"He did wind up playing in 89 percent of the plays and did a lot of good things," the GM said. "There were a lot of positives. Sometimes there are bumps in the road. Some bubble to the surface, some don’t. I was looking forward to another offseason with Kerry and the defensive coaches, but obviously that didn’t come to fruition."
As for the depth part of that three-part thought process, Tannenbaum talked about what he likes with the three veteran safeties he’ll have back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for the start of the offseason program in several weeks in Jim Leonhard and especially in Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo.
"Smith and Dig, those are two guys we like a lot," he said. "There are three safeties in the building that have played for us that we’ve been successful with. We felt with these three guys we can line up and play winning football on defense. So we’ll certainly add one, maybe two guys there, but that could be in the draft, it could be in free agency, I’m not really sure."
Tannenbaum was asked about a number of other topics that face the Jets in free agency. Here are some quick hitters:
TE Ben Hartsock — Mr. T wasn’t ready to announce Hartsock’s signing to a new deal but gave the impression things were moving in that direction. "We’re close. I don’t know if we can officially announce that yet," he said. "He played in 46 percent of the snaps last year, we led the league in rushing and Ben deserves some credit for that. That’s an important piece for us to try to re-sign."
FB Tony Richardson — "We hold Tony in the highest regard for what he does on and off the field," Tannenbaum said. "We’ve talked with him more than once. Rex just saw him Saturday night. We’ll see how that goes. I wouldn’t rule anything in or out at this point." Mike also mentioned Jason Davis enters into the T-Rich equation. "Jason did a nice job for us on the practice squad. We like his physicality. Those are the tough calls we have to make, Woody, Rex and myself."
WR Laveranues Coles — LCIII isn’t about to happen, but the GM provided the beguiling information that he has texted Coles, released by the Bengals, and has talked with his agent. "Maybe at some point, but we’ll see," Tannenbaum said. "I have all the respect in the world for Laveranues. But as we build the roster here and try to fill our needs, I would not say anything is imminent." Could there be talks after the draft? "That’s a possibility." But Tannenbaum reminded not to forget about David Clowney, Aundrae Allison and Britt Davis.
LS James Dearth — "I know James is out there looking at offers. We signed a guy a few weeks back, Tanner Purdum, so we’ll see where we go with that. I wouldn’t rule out James coming back but right now we’re kind of in a holding pattern with him."
And when asked about how handcuffed he’s felt by the "Final Four/Final Eight" unrestricted free agency restrictions, Mr. T gave one of his typical "I pity the fool who doesn’t look under every rock every day" responses.
"I mentioned this a few days ago, and I mean this sincerely: I look at the offseason as a continuum," he said. "You look at Hartsock … we signed him in August. We acquired Braylon Edwards in September. Our challenge is to be prepared throughout the year. We try to budget that way, we try to scout that way. It’s just important for us to keep in mind, on the fourth day of free agency, that we went to the AFC Championship Game last year and two key pieces were added way late."
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Eric Smith, James Dearth, James Ihedigbo, Kerry Rhodes, Laveranues Coles, Tony Richardson
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