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Offseason Game Plan: Jets

By Jason Powell, Associate Editor

March 8, 2005 5:00 PM ET

Herm Edwards still has some holes to fill on both sides of the ball.

The big news in the Gang Green camp is that Laveranues Coles is coming home. The Jets have agreed to send wide receiver Santana Moss to the Redskins in exchange for Coles, who left New York for Washington D.C. two years ago.

Moss passed his physical on Tuesday, and the deal will become official if/when Laveranues is cleared by Jets' doctors on Wednesday morning. Coles has been hobbled by a toe injury for the past two seasons, but the fact that he has been able to play through the pain leads us to believe that he'll get the thumbs up from doctors.

Although the return of Coles is stealing the headlines in Gotham, fantasy owners should not overlook the significant losses the Jets have suffered during the free agency period. The most notable loss from a fantasy perspective is running back LaMont Jordan, who signed with the Raiders last week.

To the Jets' credit, they quickly replaced Jordan with Chiefs' backup rusher Derrick Blaylock, who scored eight touchdowns last year while filling in for the injured Priest Holmes. Blaylock will spend his season backing up Curtis Martin, who won the NFL rushing title last season.

Team officials didn't do Martin or quarterback Chad Pennington any favors when they allowed offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie to depart via free agency. It's scary enough that Pennington is still recovering from offseason rotator cuff surgery, but it's Cameron Manheim wearing a thong scary that the fragile signal caller will be playing without one of his top offensive lineman in 2005.


For obvious reasons, finding a suitable replacement for McKenzie is the Jets' most pressing offseason need. New York lacked the salary cap space to buy a top replacement, but there are still some serviceable tackles available such as Stockar McDougle (Lions), Victor Riley (Saints), and Floyd Womack (Seahawks).

Given Pennington's offseason surgery and Quincy Carter's substance abuse struggles, the Jets are in the market for a backup quarterback. There has been plenty of talk about the team re-signing Vinny Testaverde, who spent six seasons with the team before joining the Cowboys last season. Other free agent backup possibilities include Jay Fiedler (Dolphins), Jeff Blake (Eagles), and Mike McMahon (Lions).

Defensively, the loss of nose tackle Jason Ferguson in free agency could have a negative effect on the Jets' linebackers, particularly Jonathan Vilma. The AFC defensive rookie of the year was a stud last season, but this situation brings back bad memories of the statistical slide that Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher suffered when mammoth defensive tackle Ted Washington left the team prior to the 2003 season.

Former Giants defensive end Lance Legree was signed as a free agent last week, and Jets' head coach Herm Edwards has already decided to move him to defensive tackle, presumably to assume the role vacated by Ferguson.

There has been some speculation that strong safety Reggie Tongue, who signed with the team as a free agent last year, will be released in a cost-cutting measure. If the Jets make such a move, they would likely stay in-house to fill the need with a backup such as Jon McGraw or Rashad Washington.

Salary Cap Situation

The Jets had $5 million in salary cap space as of March 4, according to the ESPN website. What effect the Coles-Moss trade has on the cap has not been established.

Unrestricted Free Agents

RB LaMont Jordan (Raiders), QB Quincy Carter, TE Anthony Becht, T Kareem McKenzie (Giants), G Brent Smith (Jaguars), DT Jason Ferguson (Cowboys), DE John Abraham (franchise player), DT James Reed, DT Josh Evans, LB Jason Glenn, LB Kenyatta Wright, CB Terrell Buckley, P Toby Gowin.

Restricted Free Agents

WR Jonathan Carter, TE Chris Baker, G Jonathan Goodwin, DT Alan Harper, CB Andrew Davison.

Free Agent Signings

RB Derrick Blaylock (Chiefs), DT Lance Legree (Giants).

The Draft

The Jets hold the No. 26 pick in the draft and are rumored to be in the hunt for a cornerback to eventually replace 31 year-old Donnie Abraham. Fabian Washington (Nebraska) and Carlos Rogers (Auburn) would have to slide from their projected slots to fall to the Jets. More realistic draft targets include Marlin Jackson (Michigan), Brandon Browner (Oregon State), and Justin Miller (Clemson).

Edwards could also use his first-round pick to replace McKenzie. Although the draft isn't loaded with as much offensive line talent as in past years, Jammal Brown (Oklahoma) might be available when the Jets go on the clock. That said, we're of the opinion that Edwards will address the line needs on both sides of the ball later in the draft.

Injury Watch

Pennington is hoping to be back on the practice field in time for the team's minicamp workouts this spring. However, even he has admitted that there is a chance he won't be fully recovered from rotator cuff surgery until training camp opens.

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We need an OT. Whether it be Brown, Barnes or Barron in the draft or McDougle via FA.

I'd much rather get McDougle and draft J.Miller.

Meh, I know its like beating a dead horse, but I still believe we DO NOT need to draft a corner round 1. Regardless of how free agency goes, we MUST draft a LT round 1, to be the eventual replacement for Fabini AND to possibly START at RT this season. If you argue against that, then clearly it is not that important to protect our franchise QB, unless there is something I'm missing. I think signing McDougle or Victor Riley AND drafting a Jamaal Brown or Alex Barron is the best way to go.

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We need an OT. Whether it be Brown, Barnes or Barron in the draft or McDougle via FA.

I'd much rather get McDougle and draft J.Miller.

At this point if we were going to sign ANY FA, I'd definitely consider Stocker McDougle for the right price.

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