After the Jets reportedly came to terms with two of their own unrestricted free agents — WR Santonio Holmes and T Wayne Hunter — this week, numerous media outlets reported Thursday that UFA Brad Smith is set to join the Buffalo Bills. While clubs have been able to negotiate or extend offer sheets to UFAs, RFAs and non-exclusive franchise players, they won’t be able to officially sign those eligible players until Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
Smith , a fourth-round pick from Missouri in 2006, finished second in the NFL last season with a 28.6-yard kick-return average and scored on two returns. Used in the “Seminole” formation, he also rushed for a career-high 299 yards on his 38 carries. Listed as a wide receiver, Smith had a personal-best 32 catches in 2007, then combined for just 11 receptions over the past two seasons.
If Smith does sign with the Jets’ division rival, there will be a vacancy at kickoff returner. Running back Joe McKnight, a second-year player from USC, and rookie wideout Jeremy Kerley, who averaged 27.2 yards on 37 kickoff returns at TCU, may be candidates to fill the role. Dwight Lowery has some collegiate return experience as well and there is still plenty of time before the regular season kicks off on Sept. 11.
The Jets are fortunate to have one of the top special teams coordinators in pro football history and Mike Westhoff seems to excel no matter whose name — Smith, (Leon) Washington, (Justin) Miller, (Craig) Yeast, (Chad) Morton — is on the back of the uniform. You should also consider the NFL has moved up kickoffs from the 30 to the 35-yard line and Westhoff estimates that approximately 40 percent of kicks will result in touchbacks.
Smith was a versatile weapon, but his snaps at quarterback meant the ball was coming out of Mark Sanchez’s hands. Rex Ryan has already anointed the franchise signalcaller as one of his team captains and said the Jets would be Sanchez’s team in 2011.
Meanwhile the Nnamdi Asomugha watch continues. NFL.com reported Thursday that “the Houston Texans appear to be the leaders” for the free agent cornerback. The same website has also stated that “the Jets are serious negotiations with Asomugha.”
But we remind everyone here this evening that the Jets haven’t confirmed any free agency developments and that they — and all 31 other clubs — won’t be able to sign UFAs, RFAs and non-exclusive franchise players until Friday. Further, players who sign contracts with new teams won’t be able to practice with those teams until the start of the league year on Thursday, Aug. 4.
Tags: Brad Smith, Jeremy Kerley, joe McKnight, Nnamdi Asomugha
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