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Jets' patented draft-day trades could be affected by NFL labor dispute

Published: Friday, April 22, 2011, 4:30 AM Updated: Friday, April 22, 2011, 7:48 AM

Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger

Jets have made 12 trades over the last five drafts since Mike Tannenbaum took over as general manager.

The Jets have six picks among the 254 in next week’s NFL Draft — a veritable mother lode for a team that selected just seven players in the last two drafts combined.

Of course, this is a team known for its draft-day trades.

“It’s nice to have six picks for a change,” VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said Thursday, before quipping: “We’ll see how long we have six picks.”

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum talks strategy heading into 2011 NFL Draft Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum talks strategy heading into 2011 NFL Draft Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, senior personnel executive Terry Bradway and director of college scouting Joey Clinkscales address the media about this year's NFL Draft. (Vincent Velasquez/The Star-Ledger) Watch video

The 2009 trade to obtain quarterback Mark Sanchez being the most notable, the Jets have skillfully maneuvered from the war room to nab several core players in recent drafts: Cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebacker David Harris in 2007, tight end Dustin Keller in 2008 and running back Shonn Greene two rounds after Sanchez.

But in a draft conducted during a lockout, in an offseason unlike any other, will these fruitful trade channels be affected? One important difference — assuming the labor impasse has not been settled by Thursday night — is that teams can only swap picks, not players, in draft-day trade packages.

“I think it will really shut it down,” said NFL Network analyst and former team executive Michael Lombardi. “For example, the trade that got the Jets Mark Sanchez would not happen today. The Jets wouldn’t have been able to get up in that spot because they can’t trade those players that were added into the deal.”

The Jets got their franchise quarterback by jumping into the Browns’ fifth overall slot, and sending first and second-round picks to Cleveland with players Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff and Abram Elam.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, though, offered a more optimistic take, saying he believes there are deals to be made as long as both sides want it enough.

“There’s other ways to get creative: future picks, swapping years,” Tannenbaum said at the team’s pre-draft press conference Thursday. “If you’re trying to solve a problem, you still have other clubs in the bag to use. You may not have your driver, you use your utility club.”

In fact, Tannenbaum said his staff looked back at draft-day trades over the past few years and found that most did not involve players. By an unofficial count, in the five drafts since Tannenbaum became general manager in 2006, the Jets have made 12 trades during the draft. Just two involved players.

The Sanchez deal was one. The other sent Leon Washington and a seventh-round pick to Seattle last spring, in exchange for the fifth-round pick the Jets used on fullback John Conner.

“In the middle of the draft, you don’t see a lot of player movement,” said Charley Casserly, NFL Network analyst and former Redskins and Texans GM. “Teams are reluctant to make many trades during the draft for a player, because, yes, you have a scouting report on them, but it may be by just one scout.

“But you certainly have no chance to check background in that short amount of time.”

The Sanchez trade worked because former Browns coach Eric Mangini had previously led the Jets and knew the players he was acquiring.

The biggest impact on this draft from not being able to trade players during the lockout, Casserly added, is with players who normally could have been dealt in the weeks and months before the draft — like Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, potentially.

Jets head into NFL Draft with six picks, but Star-Ledger reporters say that could change Jets head into NFL Draft with six picks, but Star-Ledger reporters say that could change Star-Ledger Jets beat reporter Jenny Vrentas and Conor Orr talk about the team's pre-draft press conference. (Vincent Velasquez/The Star-Ledger) Watch video

Their clubs have not been able to net draft picks as a result, instead holding on to excess depth they may not need or want.

When the Jets have wanted a player on draft day, they’ve set out to get him. Tannenbaum said 90 percent of the groundwork to trade up for Sanchez and Revis was laid the night before, while the deal for Keller’s pick was done “fairly spontaneously.”

In 2007, they moved up 16 picks for Harris the round after nabbing Revis, and the day after their play for Sanchez in 2009, they packaged three draft picks to move up 11 spots for Greene.

But here’s another lockout quandary: Since free agency hasn’t happened yet, will teams make more of an effort to hold onto picks, because who knows what will happen on the other side?

“We’re sitting there with (coach) Rex (Ryan), looking at the depth chart,” Tannenbaum said. “It’s really more just checking the boxes off. If we can do that with three picks, great. If it’s nine picks, that’s fine.”

Like everything else during this offseason under a lockout, the impact on the draft is a matter of waiting and seeing.



In the five drafts since Mike Tannenbaum took over as Jets GM, the team has made 12 trades during the draft, two of which involved players. Here are five of the team’s most notable moves:

Pick: 14, first round

Player drafted: CB Darrelle Revis

Jets get: First (No. 14) and sixth (No. 191)-round picks

Panthers get: First (No. 25), second (No. 59) and fifth (No. 164)-round picks

Pick: 30, first round

Player drafted: TE Dustin Keller

Jets get: First (No. 30)-round pick

Packers get: Second (No. 36) and fourth (No. 113)-round picks

Pick: 5, first round

Player drafted: QB Mark Sanchez

Jets get: First (No. 5)-round pick

Browns get: First (No. 17) and second (No. 52)-round picks; Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff and Abram Elam

Pick: 65, third round

Player drafted: RB Shonn Greene

Jets get: Third (No. 65)-round pick

Lions get: Third (No. 76), fourth (No. 115) and seventh (No. 228)-round picks

Pick: 47, second round

Player drafted: LB David Harris

Jets get: Second (No. 47) and seventh (No. 235)-round picks

Packers get: Second (No. 63), third (No. 89) and sixth (No. 191)-round picks

For more Jets coverage, follow Jenny Vrentas on Twitter at twitter.com/Jennyvrentas

Jenny Vrentas: jvrentas@starledger.com

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