Elster's World

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jets Biggest Move Of Free Agency Doesn't Involve A Free Agent

The Jets made their first splash of the free agency period by trading for a player who won’t be a free agent until next year. Sources indicate that the Jets have traded their higher second round pick (number 37) to the defending Super Bowl losers the Chicago Bears in exchange for Thomas Jones and the Bears later second round pick (lucky number 63). The Jets are rumored to be negotiating with Jones’ agent Drew Rosenhaus on an extension. This should (and I stress should) finally provide the Jets with the number one rushing option they have missed since Curtis Martin’s knee finally gave out.

Personally, I love this deal. Or at least like a lot in a very platonic way. Jones is 28 years old (in his prime) and has rushed for over 1,200 in each of the last two seasons. The Bears get a prime drafting position with the 37 pick (which the Jets received from the Redskins - who needs draft picks when you can overspend in free agency?) while the Jets get a B+/A- back and retain two picks in the second round (where they can probably still find serviceable linemen on both sides of the ball). Jones is also a decent receiver out of the backfield – which bodes well for the Pennington favorite screen passes. Word on the street is that he excels at catching backward passes as well.

The trade makes the Jets offense stronger on many levels. They now have a real runner to help stabilize their ball control offense and to take some of the pressure off Chad Pennington. It will force opposing defenses to “stack the box” a little more, allowing Pennington more one on one coverages to exploit and to use the play action fake (which he is very good at as well). It allows Leon Washington to be the change of pace guy, to not have to take a huge pounding as a number one back (which he isn’t, at least not yet) and lets him develop at his own pace. It doesn’t, however, bode well for Cedric Houston, who is now relegated to third back status. Let’s hope he has some fine special teams skills.

With the move in place, the Jets can now focus their free agent dollars and draft picks on specific needs – defensive line help, corner help, maybe an outside linebacker, a right side offensive lineman and a speed receiver to stretch opposing defenses (and who excels at coming back to catch underthrown bombs).


  • Jones is not too great at catching passes out of the backfield. Please don't rely on Mark Cannizaro of the Post for your blog posts.

    Houston doesn't play special teams, but he's fine as a #3 RB and has a relatively low salary, and I think they should keep him on the roster.

    Jets also need another QB.

    I like the deal but don't love it. Second tier RBs are a dime a dozen this offseason and several could have been signed for what the Jets are giving Jones. An RB who is going to be 29 in a few months is not "in his prime." For me, Jones' blocking and his experience in a cold weather stadium is what makes him a bit better than the other RBs on the market.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 12:32 PM  

  • Sorry to disappoint but I didn't read tyhe Post coverage of the story. I read ESPN.com and the Times. All seem to agree he's a better than average pass catcher. Don't assume.

    I am not sure a guy averaging 1,250 yards a season for the last 2 is a "second tier" back - more like a 1.5 tier.

    Houston will probbaly stick and be unhappy as a number three. However, on Mangini's team, a number three RB better have another skill - like special teams, the same way third receiverJustin Mcereins was forced to play special teams as well.

    28 is not "old", even in rb years - though I will allow that Jones isn't a long term solution.

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:31 PM  

  • 1. Houston was a 6th round pick in 2005. He will be happy to be in the NFL. His failure to play special teams notwithstanding, I think he should make the 53 man roster.

    McCareins volunteered for special teams, he was not "forced to play special teams."

    2. Is Jones going to be around in time for the Jets to be real contenders? If not, I don't like giving up draft picks, just like I hated the Barlow trade. I think it's possible that the Jets can contend so mildly support the trade.

    3. Jones was 11th in rushing last season. I consider that second tier. Travis Henry was 10th and required no compensation when he was signed yesterday by Denver.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:26 PM  

  • McCareins "volunteered" the way Ted Johnson "volunteered" to play with concussions. The unspoken word is that if Mangini has no use for you, and you are not valuable in many ways, to the organization, you are gone. Especially if you started in Coach's doghouse to begin with. Let's not be naive about that.

    2. Jets are a year or 2 from being SB contenders - doesnt ean they aren't good enough to make playoff runs. Jones will signa 4 or 5 year deal (probably) and will only be 29, 30 and 31 for the next three years - not too old to be very effective.

    3. Maybe the Jets liked Jones more than Henry, who knows?

    Speaking of Denver, wow they have been active....

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:07 PM  

  • You're wrong about McCareins. He approached Mangini and asked to play special teams. WRs are not generally expected to play on special teams - other than returning punts or kickoffs.

    31 is old for a RB. I'd be happy to get two 1200 yard seasons and then a modest 2009 season from Jones before letting him go.

    The Jets have made a huge move signing Bobby Hamilton this afternoon. The man is a beast who could be the difference in '07.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 5:19 PM  

  • Your point about Jones being 11th on the list thus a second tier back is misleading. Of the 10 guys on the list ahead of Jones NOT ONE HAD A SECONDARY RUSHER who gained as many yards as Cedric Benson (647y on 157 carries). If you give anoher, say 50 of those carries, and say another 175 yards (conservatively) to Jones, he has a shade under 1,400 yards and jumps to number 6 or so on the list.

    31 is on the older side for a rb. But he has less used legs (say compared to a Curtis Martin who, at age 29, was comperable to a 65 year old).

    Note that Travis Henry is 29 also (born 1978) and signed a 5 year deal with 12 million guaranteed - so he wasn't exactly more of a value (though the Jets could have kept the 37 spot for him a valid point).

    Jets also picked up a lineman from Dallas - none of these are over the top moves.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:18 AM  

  • The DL from Dallas got a very big contract for a career backup. I'm sure it was based on Bill Parcells' recommendation. We'll see how it works out.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 9:56 AM  

  • I thought he got the 800,000 veteran's minimum

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:07 AM  

  • No, he got $20 million, approximately $7 million guaranteed.

    BTW, Jones rushed nearly 300 times. Most teams don't run as much as Chicago which (1) was usually protecting leads created by their defense and (2) has Rex Grossman at QB.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 11:09 AM  

  • Fair points but you have to admit that I made a good point....

    Cmon, admit it!!!

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:28 AM  

  • Not bad ... for you.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 11:30 AM  

  • Also, where did you see they gave the former Cowboy 20 million? ow many years was it?

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:35 AM  

  • Daily News, Journal News and elsewhere. 5 years, $20 million.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 12:06 PM  

  • Why don't you two just e-mail?

    By Anonymous DB, at 12:04 PM  

  • D!!!

    Welcome back.

    Of course we email. We even speak on the phone sometimews as well. A blogger is nothing without a comment count however.

    By Blogger Elster, at 12:52 PM  

  • Wow, 16 comments. I'm impressed! Elster has made quite a comeback.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:12 PM  

  • Yes - I'm a comment machine. In fact, with this comment, I will be at 17 - probably not too far off my personal best. How nice for me.

    In other news, look for a new post tomorrow to discuss a (hopefull) G'town win over Villanova, the Knicks, some of the Jet moves (including a rumor that makes Joe VERY mad) and a host of other important sports stories.

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:30 PM  

  • I have already read part of tomorrow's post.

    It's not too good.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 6:25 PM  

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