So here we are, exactly five weeks to the draft, and the Marcus Mariota speculation continues to build.
Would the New York Jets select the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback if he's available with the sixth pick? Our man Mel Kiper Jr. believes it's a no-brainer.
"I would think that, at that point, I don't know how you'd pass him up," the ESPN draft analyst said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. "You're going against Tom Brady. Tom Brady has probably got another five years in him. And Mariota needs a little bit of time. So [Ryan] Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith would give you time to develop Mariota, who, in another two or three years, could be really good."
I agree with Kiper. If you're the Jets, starved for a franchise quarterback, you take Mariota and bring him along slowly, which is easier said than done. You know how it is in the New York market; the pressure to play him immediately would be intense.
General manager Mike Maccagnan continues to say he will draft the best available player. The top four players, according to a consensus of the top draft experts (including ESPN's Kiper and Todd McShay), are quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive tackle Leonard Williams, wide receiver Amari Cooper and Mariota. If one happens to slip to six, they'd be hard-pressed to pass.
"I'm not concerned at all about the fact that you're not this rah-rah guy out there," Kiper said of the former Oregon Duck. "He's got a ton of skills, a ton of ability, and if you give him time, I think the Jets would be a perfect team to afford him that opportunity."
Here's some news that certainly will affect the top of the New York Jets' draft board.
Nebraska's Randy Gregory, regarded as one of the top pass-rushing prospects in the draft, told NFL.com that he tested positive for marijuana last month at the scouting combine. What's more, he admitted in the interview that he has a long history of smoking marijuana.
This apparently was well-known among NFL teams. Gregory said he discussed his marijuana use with every team at the combine.
"I was worse at Nebraska than I've ever been at any other time of my life," he told NFL.com. "But I know how I am now. I think if teams really look at how I am now more so than the past, they'll see I'm making strides to get better, as a person and as a player."
He also said, "I don't wake up every day saying, I'd really love to go smoke. It's not a struggle for me every day [now], it really isn't. In the past, hell yeah, it's been a struggle. It really has been."
Gregory's candor, quite frankly, is stunning. While his honesty is admirable, this will undoubtedly hurt his draft stock. We had the Jets selecting Gregory in our first mock draft, but that will change.
The red flag makes him a considerable risk for teams in the top 10. The Jets, picking sixth, can't take the chance. The pick is too high (no pun intended) and the money is too great (a guaranteed contract of about $17 million) to roll the dice.
Because of the positive test, Gregory will be in stage one of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, meaning he will be tested frequently and is closer to a drug suspension than those with a clean record.
"Even though my name is involved in it, nobody is calling me about it," the star cornerback said during a phone interview on SportsNet New York's "Loudmouths" show. "I'm not really involved. Even when I was in New England and this stuff came up ... the only thing I can do is wait, wait until it all pans out and see how it goes and just continue to play football."
Revis added, "The tampering charges, I really don't know the whole story or the details. As of right now, both owners are going to do what they have to do, what's best for their organization. For me, at this point, it's to get ready for the 2015 season, just focus on ball."
On Tuesday, the Jets filed retaliatory charges against the Patriots, claiming owner Robert Kraft violated the anti-tampering rules when he discussed Revis on Monday at the league meetings in Phoenix. The soap opera started in January, when the Patriots accused Woody Johnson of tampering, based on his comments at the end of the season. Johnson said he wanted Revis to return to the Jets.
We all know how it turned out. Revis bolted the Super Bowl champs, signing a five-year, $70 million contract with the Jets.
Revis, a guest Tuesday on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN 98.7, said the Patriots' offer "wasn't in the ballpark of what we were looking for." Kraft offered a different version, saying Monday they made "a very competitive offer."
NEW YORK -- This was one touchdown of a promposal -- with the help of the New York Jets.
Sarah Kardonsky of Division Avenue High School in Levittown, New York, asked a friend, Michael Pagano, to prom with a video proposal that featured some special guests. Several Jets players, including cornerback Antonio Cromartie and running back Bilal Powell, are in the 30-second video individually asking Pagano if he'll go to prom with Kardonsky.
Wide receiver Chris Owusu even leans into the camera and whispers some advice: "Say yes!"
Kardonsky, who posted the video on her Facebook page, presented the Jets-filled proposal to Pagano -- wearing a No. 24 Darrelle Revis jersey -- in class to cheers from other classmates.
And, of course: Pagano said yes.
Kardonsky says Pagano initially asked her to the prom, but she already had a date -- another friend. She felt bad and knew the other guy would have no issues finding another date, so she asked if he'd be OK with her taking Pagano instead.
And she wanted to do something special to ask.
She says she then reached out to the players through Instagram and edited their videos together.
One of the elements the New York Jets lacked last season was a true blocking tight end. Now they have one.
The 29-year-old Davis, joining his sixth team in nine years, will join a tight-end group that includes Jace Amaro, Jeff Cumberland and Zach Sudfeld, all of whom are better receivers than blockers. Davis has only 50 career receptions -- only three over the last two seasons -- so we're not talking about a player who will be featured in the passing game.
Davis (6-foot-7, 265 pounds), who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, played only six games with the Lions. After getting cut by the New York Giants in training camp, he didn't sign with the Lions until October. He got released a month later and returned in December. He played only 137 snaps on offense, had no catches and was targeted just three times.
Detect a trend?
The big spending is over, and the Jets are shopping in the bargain aisle, beefing up their depth by signing older vets to one-year contracts -- defensive linemen Stephen Bowen and Kevin Vickerson, guard James Brewer and tackle Corey Hilliard. Chances are, some of them won't make the team, but these are no-risk signings in terms of the financials.
The Border War started in January 1997 when the New York Jets attempted to hire Bill Parcells as their coach. The New England Patriots blocked it, so the Jets tried an end-around, making Parcells a consultant. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, livid, released a statement, calling it "a transparent farce."
Eighteen years later, they're still going at it. It took only two months for Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles to be indoctrinated into the culture of Jets-Patriots enmity. Congrats, guys, you're made men now.
This, of course, was totally avoidable. If the league had made a prompt ruling on the Patriots' tampering charge from January, stemming from Woody Johnson's end-of-the-season remarks about Revis, it probably would've pre-empted any retaliatory strikes. But the NFL being the NFL, its so-called investigation has moved at a glacial pace, creating suspicion and fueling the acrimony between the two teams. Maybe it was waiting for TMZ to uncover a secret videotape.
It seems like the Jets, who believe the Patriots' accusation is without merit, were waiting with a trap at the league meetings in Phoenix.
On Monday, at about 3:30 p.m. ET, Kraft spoke to reporters and answered questions about Revis' departure. He didn't make any comments that screamed "Tampering!" Mostly, he talked about how he wishes he could've kept the star cornerback, but that he sided with Bill Belichick's belief it was in the best interest of the team to move on.
Translation: Belichick would sooner mow Johnson's lawn than devote 15 percent of his salary cap to a 30-year-old player not named Brady.
Nevertheless, the Jets studied Kraft's comments, pouncing on the phrase "I speak as a fan of the New England Patriots: We wanted to keep him." It was a harmless comment, but they were looking for something -- anything -- to formulate a counter-charge.
About 30 minutes later, Johnson did his thing with reporters, appearing noticeably subdued when discussing his new trophy cornerback. Maybe he knew he had his ammunition, and he didn't want to say anything to compromise his position.
You don't have to be a legal scholar to recognize Johnson's original comments from December ("I'd love for Darrelle to come back") were closer to a tampering violation than those of Kraft. By definition, Johnson committed a textbook violation, but he claims it was a slip of the tongue, telling Kraft in a subsequent phone conversation that he "misspoke."
The Patriots refused to let it slide, so the Jets decided to give the Super Bowl champs a taste of their own medicine.
This is so middle school, don't you think? Johnson and Kraft should be summoned to the principal's office for a stern lecture. The appropriate penalties: no recess and no video games for a week.
And don't even think of using the private jets.
PHOENIX -- Things change fast in the NFL, but one of the notable takeaways from the league's owners meetings is that frosty feelings and the rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets remains alive and well.
The Jets' filing of tampering charges against the Patriots on Tuesday night is the latest chapter in an entertaining back-and-forth that goes back to 1997 when Bill Parcells left the Patriots to become Jets head coach. He took New England running back Curtis Martin with him as a restricted free agent, a coup for New York and the Patriots never capitalized on the draft picks received in return for the future Hall of Fame rusher.
Bill Belichick resigned as "HC of the NYJ" three years later and came back to New England, where he had served as an assistant under Parcells in 1996. The Patriots gave up a first-round draft choice to the Jets, 16th overall, to make it happen.
That decision came as Jets ownership was in transition, with Woody Johnson purchasing the franchise in January of 2000 and immediately getting caught in the "Border War."
Belichick's icy feelings for the Jets have been well documented over the years, and when former assistant Eric Mangini left to become Jets head coach in 2006, it lit another match to an already flammable dynamic.
The Mangini-led Jets blew the whistle on the Patriots' videotaping procedures, a story which spiraled out of control in 2007. Will hard feelings from that situation ever subside?
Then from 2009-14, Jets head coach Rex Ryan did all he could to elevate his club to the Patriots' level, declaring that it was among his top priorities to bring New England back to the pack. He had his moments (e.g. playoff win at New England following the 2010 season), but considering that the Patriots are 22-8 against the Jets since 2001, it's been a fairly lopsided rivalry on the field over the last decade-plus.
And, most recently this offseason, it's the Darrelle Revis tug-o-war.
"No, you tampered!"
Many seem to agree that Johnson's remarks about Revis were the textbook definition of tampering, a public statement declaring interest in a player under contract who was about to be a free agent. There also seems to be near universal agreement that several teams tamper; they just aren't foolish enough to say so publicly. And most seem to be in alignment that Robert Kraft's remarks about Revis, spoken in past tense, wouldn't fall into the category of tampering but is a statement by the Jets that they feel the Patriots' charge is frivolous.
The Jets have a new regime with head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, and their administration is off to a busy start with an aggressive approach in free agency headlined by snatching Revis away from New England. But it wouldn't be complete, of course, without firing a retaliation shot in the direction of the Patriots.
It's been a relatively quiet four-day stretch here at the NFL's owners meetings; the hot topic of discussion has been about possibly moving the extra point. Then came the Jets' salvo on Tuesday night to spice things up and remind us that while some of the people in the rivalry might change, hard feelings between the franchises don't.
ESPN New York Jets reporter Rich Cimini says the team should add a fleet-footed runner to a backfield that's currently built mostly on power. Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are NFL draft options -- but not with the sixth overall pick.
The New York Jets have six selections in the 2015 NFL draft, which will be held April 30 to May 2 in Chicago. Here’s a breakdown of the Jets' selections:
First round: 6th overall selection
Second round: 37th overall selection
Third round: 70th overall selection
Fourth round: 104th overall selection
Fifth round: Traded for Brandon Marshall
Sixth round: Traded for Percy Harvin
Seventh round: 223rd overall selection
Seventh round: 224th overall selections (acquired in Marshall trade)
The hostile rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets took another bizarre turn on Tuesday, when the Jets filed a retaliatory tampering charge against the Patriots based on owner Robert Kraft's comments Monday about Darrelle Revis, league sources confirmed.
Kraft, speaking to reporters at the league meetings in Phoenix, commented for the first time on the star cornerback's departure. The remark that caught the Jets' attention was Kraft saying, "I speak as a fan of the New England Patriots, we wanted to keep him."
This apparently was a tit-for-tat move by the Jets, who were irked in January when the Patriots slapped them with a tampering charge.
That accusation stemmed from owner Woody Johnson, in an end-of-the-season news conference, telling reporters, "I'd love for Darrelle to come back."
Although Johnson's comments may have violated the league's anti-tampering rule, based on the letter of the law, the Jets felt it was a baseless charge because there was no malicious intent.
In fact, Johnson called Kraft immediately after the news conference, saying he "misspoke." The Patriots refused to let it slide, leading to Tuesday's counter move.
While the Jets' filing might be considered frivolous, it may have been done to highlight what they believe was a trivial accusation by the Patriots in January.
Revis, who played with the Jets from 2007 to 2012 and the Patriots in 2014, ended up signing a five-year, $70 million contract with the Jets on the first day of free agency. In fact, the deal was announced only five hours after he became a free agent.
Speaking Tuesday at the league meetings in Phoenix, Todd Bowles provided his first take on the New York Jets' revamped, $149 million secondary. This is what he said:
On Darrelle Revis: "He has an impact everywhere he goes. He’s a good corner. He can play in any scheme. He’s a zone or man guy. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for his zone or his tackling or his awareness on the field. So whatever we decide to play back there, he’s very capable of doing it." (Note: Bowles said Revis can play left or right corner or match up against a specific wide receiver, depending on the opponent.)
On Antonio Cromartie: "We have this perception in the NFL that when you become 31, 32 years old, you can’t play anymore even if you can run and hit and tackle and that whole thing, and perception versus reality in this case is a little different. You can run sprints in the outfield and Cromartie’s ahead of everybody by 10 yards. He keeps himself in excellent shape, and he came in there (at Arizona) and he kept his head down and he worked. He doesn’t get enough credit for his mental intelligence as far as seeing the game and watching film, and that’s something I did not know about him coming in to Arizona. I’m sure he had something to prove, being let go for the first time with hip injuries, but he practiced every day, didn’t miss any time. And you get a guy like that back who takes care of himself, you get to a certain point in the league where you understand your body and you trust what you’re doing. I saw a lot of that with him in Arizona."
On Buster Skrine: "Buster’s quick, he’s fast and the greatest thing with Buster is he’s tougher than his size indicates. He’s a fighter, he wants to get better, he can blitz from the outside, he can cover the quick guys, he’s got long speed. He’s just feisty. You've got to have a certain mentality to play in the slot. You’re a quasi-linebacker, safety, nickel, corner ... you’ve got of kind to got to be able to do a little bit of everything, be a jack of all trades and have great awareness. Buster has very good awareness and he’s very feisty, which makes him a prime candidate to play some nickel."
On Marcus Gilchrist: "Marcus is a free safety, and Calvin [Pryor] will play strong. But Marcus is very heady. He’s got very good cover skills. He’s a lot tougher than he looks, size-wise, and he just knows how to play football. Marcus can do a lot of things. (He) can cover receiving tight ends, can cover slot receivers and, whether we want to run the corners or not run the corners, he gives us a lot of versatility from a coverage standpoint. When they flex out a running back out of the backfield, a la Reggie Bush or those types of guys, he has that ability to go out and cover. ... So he’s very versatile and he brings a lot to the table because he can do a lot of things."
PHOENIX -- New York Jets coach Todd Bowles doesn't need to get to know Brandon Marshall. The two were together with the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and 2011, so the Jets' new head coach and their new star wide receiver won't need much of a get-acquainted period this spring.
Bowles said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings that he thinks Marshall gets misunderstood and that he's looking forward to having him on his team again.
"Me and Brandon go back," Bowles said. "We have real conversations. The guy is so much more than what I think everybody's trying to paint him as. Everybody, if you look at their past, is going to have some shaky things going through it. But Brandon's come a long way, and I think he's in a great spot in his career to have a breakout year."
Marshall has a long history of off-field incidents. The Jets acquired him in a trade with the Chicago Bears, and there have been rumblings that the Bears weren't happy with Marshall's weekly appearances on Showtime's NFL show. But Bowles doesn't anticipate having a problem with Marshall's off-day schedule, as that show tapes on Tuesdays.
"If it doesn't interfere with his practice time -- and we'll talk about it -- his days off are his days off, and I think he can do whatever he wants to do," Bowles said. "Brandon's smart enough to handle it professionally. So we'll have a talk about that, but I have no problem with it."
Marshall, 31, is on his fourth different NFL team and has now been traded three times since 2009 -- an oddly checkered resume for a player who has five 100-catch seasons and has been among the best at his position since entering the league. But the Jets have high hopes that he has a lot left in the tank and will enjoy himself in New York.
"We think Brandon's still a top-flight receiver," Bowles said. "He's not just a big body. His presence and the way he runs routes, he understands the game. He's a student of the game. He understands when he has small guys on him, he can get vertical when he needs to get vertical. He's a sharp route-runner. He has great hands. He knows how to block. He brings a work ethic and he brings a fire to us that we need on that side of the ball."
PHOENIX -- Without Bruce Arians in his life and career, Todd Bowles knew he wouldn’t have been sitting in a ballroom in the Arizona Biltmore early Tuesday morning.
During his first NFL annual meeting coaches breakfast as the New York Jets head coach, Bowles, the former Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, looked back at Arians’ influence on him.
“That guy, I can’t say enough about him,” Bowles said. “I’d lose my left arm for him.”
For now, Bowles can keep his limbs intact.
The two have a history that dates back to the early 1980s when Arians coached Bowles at Temple. They were also on Cleveland’s staff from 2001-2003.
“He kind of groomed me from a young man to a middle-aged man to now an older man as far as seeing me grow,” Bowles said.
“He helped me be the best at almost everything.”
Earlier this offseason, Arians said he began working on getting Bowles a job as soon as the season ended.
“He earned it,” Arians said. “Whatever I could do to help.”
While Arians’ endorsement carried a significant amount of weight, Bowles earned a job on his own. The Cardinals had the most blitzes per drop back and the second-highest pressure per drop back in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information in the past two years. In 2013, Arizona had the best rushing defense.
Last season, however, may have displayed Bowles’ coaching prowess more than ever because of his ability to turn an injury-plagued defense into a competitive unit.
“Todd has a special and unique gift with taking players who may have certain limitations and putting them in a position to succeed schematically,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “He understands how to hide some of the guys and mask some of their limitations while catering to their strengths. This year he did a phenomenal job.
“Todd did a great job schematically being able to bring people from different spots and being able to create pressure without true edge pressure.”