- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. On thin ice? Geno Smith's future has been the subject of speculation, with one report suggesting the Jets are ready to move on. I can tell you this much: His roster spot is not in jeopardy. Is his starting job? Absolutely. Even though Smith will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, as head coach Todd Bowles said recently in his non-endorsement endorsement, there are some people familiar with the Jets' thinking who believe Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the opening-day starter.
It's not hard to connect the dots. They've probably checked out every available quarterback under the age of 40. Before trading for Fitzpatrick, they talked to Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown and worked out Josh Freeman. Now they're in draft mode, and they've conducted private workouts and/or pre-draft visits with the top five prospects -- Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and Garrett Grayson. They might as well place a "help wanted" ad on Craigslist. They want to add another quarterback; Bowles said so himself.
Obviously, Smith will be yesterday's news if they pick Winston or Mariota. There's a huge drop-off to the next tier of prospects, with some experts saying there are no future starters among the Petty-Hundley-Grayson group. Each one has a hole in his game, scouts say, but they could get pushed up to the second round because of supply and demand at the position. If the Jets roll the dice with one of these quarterbacks (don't be surprised if it's Grayson in the third), it would be akin to an SOS flare. And then we'll know exactly how they feel about Smith.
2. Curtis losing faith in Geno: Add Curtis Martin's name to the list of Smith skeptics. In an April 7 interview on the Talk of Fame Network, the Hall of Fame running back replied without hesitation when asked if he's concerned about the Jets at quarterback.
"Yes,” he said. “I don’t think Geno has shown he can get the job done. Now, a lot can happen in an offseason, and I think his commitment to the offseason is going to determine what he‘s able to do this year. [Bill] Parcells used to tell me, ‘You have two years to get it done, and three is the max.’ I believe this is Geno’s third year, [so] he’s going to really have to produce. And if I was an owner of the team, he would really have to produce to stay around.”
3. Curtis on Jets-Patriots: He's biased, of course, but Martin believes the Jets have added enough talent to give the New England Patriots a run in the AFC East.
"I think they’re going to challenge them this year," he said. "They have A[Antonio] Cromartie and [Darrelle] Revis back. They’re one of the few tandems in the NFL that slows [Tom] Brady down. So I think that’s going to give them an advantage in comparison to last year. I [also] think Todd Bowles is great for the team. I do think they needed to make a coaching change, not because Rex [Ryan] wasn’t a good coach but because New York is just a place, a city, where you have to win. And, for the last few years, he hasn’t won. And so I think the change was necessary, and I like Todd Bowles.”
4. The mouth that roars: I'm not shocked by Ryan's biting responses to Jace Amaro (does the name Channing Crowder ring a bell?), but I am surprised he spoke publicly about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans during his final two seasons with the Jets. I thought he was going to let bygones be bygones, but he was obviously wounded by his ouster and decided to vent to Sports Illustrated.
One thing he didn't say in the article was how disappointed he was by the contract extension after the 2013 season. It was billed by the team as a multiyear extension, but it was really only an extra year of guaranteed money -- and Ryan believed he had earned more security. This never became public, but he had some misgivings about signing it, especially when he saw big money going to first-timers like Bill O'Brien. In the end, he realized he had little leverage because the Jets held his rights for 2014.
5. Here comes the schedule: The NFL announced it will release the 2015 schedule this week. We're hearing it could be as early as Tuesday. A Jets-Buffalo Bills opener in prime time (Sunday or Monday) would have a lot of Rex appeal, so to speak. How 'bout Jets-Patriots? That would have some juicy subplots, including Revis. Maybe by then the league will have resolved the dual tampering charges.
As Super Bowl champs, the Patriots have the honor of opening the season on Thursday night, Sept. 10. Looking at their home schedule, the most compelling opponents are the Jets, Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.
6. All kinds of smoke: Based purely on talent and scheme fit, Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory would be ideal for the Jets with the sixth pick. But he tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine, later acknowledging he had multiple failed tests in college. The people I've talked to say they'd be surprised if the Jets, with a new regime, pulled the trigger on Gregory. A similar situation occurred 20 years ago. The Jets passed on Warren Sapp because of positive tests, opting for Kyle Brady. No need to elaborate on how that turned out.
7. That's smarts: There's no need to worry about low Wonderlic scores for Winston and Mariota, as they reportedly scored 27 and 33, respectively -- both above average. The league's intelligence test is scored on a scale of 1 to 50. The Jets can take pride in knowing they've had two of the smartest quarterbacks in history -- Greg McElroy and Fitzpatrick, both of whom nailed it with a 48. Ryan used to call McElroy the smartest guy in the building.
8. The Sherff dilemma: Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff is widely regarded as one of the top six to eight players in the draft, but I'm wondering how he'd fit with the Jets if they pick him at six. He played left tackle in college, but he's seen as a better right tackle or guard on the pro level. Right tackle Breno Giacomini had his ups and downs in the first year of a four-year, $18 million contract, but I don't see the Jets cutting bait after one year -- especially because $2.5 million of his $4.5 million base salary is fully guaranteed. Maybe they'd use Scherff at guard for a year before moving him to right tackle. I still say they end up with a pass-rusher or a wide receiver.
The Jets this offseason have basically worked out any quarterback they can find, both in free agency and the draft.