In just a few moments, the NFL’s League Year will begin. The Jets’ preparations for free agency and the trading period trace all the way back to the summer.
“It’s a process that begins all the way back in August,” Jets director of player personnel Brendan Prophett told newyorkjets.com. “We delegate within the department which teams guys will cover. They’ll be responsible for writing up that’s team’s players throughout the season.”
Prophett, in his 13th season with the Jets, and the entire scouting staff assembled together in the winter to assess what the Jets were and where they were going.
“We really start gearing our focus towards free agency prep in the game plan meeting that we usually have as a personnel department as a whole in December, where it’s pro personnel, college scouting and Mike T,” he said. “We kind of take a self-analysis and look at ourselves, where we would potentially have needs, what’s available from the pro side — unrestricted and restricted free agency. And the college guys have been out on the road all fall, so they’ll have their reports on guys at each position and then we kind of put it into categories.”
At that time, the Jets analyzed their positional groups and assigned them one of three categories.
“These are our must areas that we have to fill, our needs where we would like to fill, and a nice to have, so you kind of mark it in those different categories,” he said. “And then once the season ends, our whole focus in pro personnel goes right to free agency.”
The Jets wrote up reports on every player who potentially could move to the open market. Once the season ended, the coaches were brought up to speed and incorporated into the process.
“We’ll spend January writing up all the free agents — and you’re talking 500-plus free agents this year, restricted and unrestricted,” Proph said. “And we’ll kind of drill down to identifying those positions that are musts and needs.
“Based upon our grades, there is a collection of players at those positions that we’ll want the coaches’ input. It’s really important that we have good dialogue with the coaches — what are we looking for, the positions’ requirements that the coaches have, and what their visions are for the players at those positions. We’ll come to them with a list of guys and here are the guys that we think fit those requirements and we want their feedback to see if they share that same vision.”
Money is an important factor as well, considering the NFL has a salary cap. The Green & White have reportedly created more cap space this spring with the extensions of QB Mark Sanchez and NT Sione Pouha. Most media outlets estimate New York’s AFC representative is about $14 million under the league’s cap of $120.6 million. GM Mike Tannenbaum has a talented football administration department in place in director Ari Nissim and manger Jacqueline Davidson, and they play key roles in the spring.
“We grade the players as football players and Ari and Jackie do a great job of kind of gauging based upon our grade where that will fit financially. Obviously we want to acquire as many good players as we can, but financially sometimes we can’t feasibly make it work,” Prophett said. “They’ll give us parameters, ‘Hey, we think we can work within this pay structure. Who are kind of the players who fit that mold?’ We have conversations with them like we do the coaching staff, ‘What group of players fits this market or this kind of financial parameter?’ We’re in constant contact with them.”
At 4 p.m. ET today, the Jets will have only two safeties on their roster as both Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool are unrestricted free agents. Three teams used their franchise tags on safeties (OAK on Tyvon Branch, SF on Dashon Goldson and TEN on Michael Griffin) so LaRon Landry is now widely considered the top safety on the market.
“I think it’s a good group. There is a lot of depth there,” Prophett said. “Obviously we’ll look to see if we want starters, backups. What’s available in terms of those guys? You’ll look at your own guys and there’ll be some dialogue there as to whether we want to keep them or not and we’ll be in contact with them.
“But when you look to the market, I think there’s quality depth. When you look at the guys that have been tagged — the Goldsons, the Branches — those are excellent players, but we still think there are numbers there that we can get a good player.”
There are openings at OLB and No. 2 receiver as well. Both Bryan Thomas, the longest-tenured Jet who got a light workout in here today before the deadline, and WR Plaxico Burress, who tied for the team lead with eight TDs in 2011, are unrestricted free agents.
“They’re not under contract, so they’re talking to other teams. Obviously we’ve had some dialogue with them throughout the offseason leading up to free agency, so we both share a feel for where the other is at, but they’re looking and so are we,” Prophett said. “We’ll come up with what we feel is the best answer for the Jets moving forward.”
A product of The College of New Jersey, Prophett played wideout at TCNJ and was a three-time all-conference selection. He got some pro experience in Europe, and Arena ball also appeared on his résumé before he began to flourish in his current role.
“Brendan has been invaluable,” said assistant GM Scott Cohen. “He has been as thorough, as detailed and as good an evaluator as I’ve been around. We work hand in hand with everything we do and I couldn’t think of a better person to share those duties with.”
Prophett is excited to get going once again in a more traditional format. A long work stoppage a year ago forced teams to scramble last summer in a unique condensed free agency period.
“It’s good that you can get the players in, talk to them and you can get a feel for what he wants, what you guys are looking for — get a feel for one another, basically,” Prophett said. “It’s a recruiting process. You really didn’t have that last year. There really wasn’t time for it. I’m an old-school guy, I like the traditional, so I’ll welcome kind of the back-to-norm approach we’ll have this year.”
Tags: Brendan Prophett, Free Agency, Mark Sanchez, Mike Tannenbaum, Scott Cohen, Sione Pouha
Posted in Eric Allen | 127 Comments »