NYJ Team Report

With so many high-priority players expected to get contract extensions next season like Chad Pennington and Shaun Ellis, there won't be enough money left to keep tight end Anthony Becht after next season.<BR><BR>

INSIDE SLANT

It seems strange that Ted Cottrell, the man the Jets fired as defensive coordinator roughly two weeks ago, would have a new job before the Jets could even hire his replacement. Yet that's where the Jets sit as Cottrell goes to Minnesota to be the Vikings' new coordinator, while the Jets have seen choice after choice go elsewhere.

While the Jets patiently waited to interview candidates whose teams were in the playoffs, the list of choices keeps getting smaller.

Former Bills coach Gregg Williams was the first to interview and a favorite of head coach Herman Edwards, but he was hired quickly by the Redskins. Money may have been an issue because Williams is getting a reported $1.5 million from the Redskins while Edwards makes just $1.3 million as head coach of the Jets.

Buccaneers defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who was the odds on favorite to get the job once Cottrell was fired, won't be talking to the Jets because the Bucs wouldn't give them permission to talk -- twice. The first refusal came because the Bucs wanted to hire a general manager before allowing coaches to interview and then a second time when new general manager Bruce Allen gave the Jets a flat out no.

Former Pittsburgh coordinator Tim Lewis probably would have been interviewed but Tom Coughlin jumped to get him on his new Giants staff.

The Jets have already interviewed former Giants coordinator Johnnie Lynn and Baltimore secondary coach Donnie Henderson. Tennessee linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham came in this week and is currently the favorite du jour. The Titans were the No. 1 ranked defense against the run, particularly because of linebacker play -- two of the Jets biggest defensive weaknesses over the last few seasons.

Yet the Jets may need to be more decisive because the Falcons are after him. If it gets to that point, the Jets want to speak to Eagles linebackers coach Ron Rivera once Philadelphia is out of the playoffs.

Edwards said the Jets won't rush to pick a new defensive coordinator but if they don't move quickly, they could end up with the last man standing and who knows who that could be.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--WR Keyshawn Johnson seemed like an automatic fit for the Jets after the Bucs sent him home during the latter portion of the season. He played in New York before, loved the spotlight and attention, and also gets along with head coach Herman Edwards. It was even possible that Johnson would take less money to come back to New York.

Yet during his work for FOX as a studio analyst last week, Johnson listed three teams he'd like to play for next season: The Patriots, Cowboys and Ravens.

Okay, so maybe he didn't say the Jets, but people close to Johnson are saying he'd love to come back.

The Jets have had a tendency to be, well, thrifty, under owner Woody Johnson and maybe it's costing them in their search for a defensive coordinator. With coach Herman Edwards making just $1.3 million -- putting him in the bottom third of NFL head coaches -- it makes it hard for a coordinator to get a salary of well over $1 million, like Gregg Williams got with Washington.

An extension for Edwards, however, could change that and one is expected to be announced very soon. Yet most of the big name coordinator candidates are gone already and there aren't many million-dollar candidates left.

The Jets lost four players to the Redskins last offseason and missed out on Williams when Joe Gibbs quickly scooped him up this offseason, but the Jets may have finally got one back. Word is that Williams had been looking to hire former defensive line coach Denny Marcin before the Jets hired him this week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I went from a not hot head coaching prospect to a hot coordinator." -- Former defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, who narrowly missed out on getting the 49ers head coaching job last year and was one of the most wanted coordinators this year after being fired by the Jets.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Jets have their list of needs for this offseason but the final prioritizing may not be done until the team hires a defensive coordinator. Based on that person's input, the Jets may decide what positions need upgrading the most and which need to be improved first. Since coach Herman Edwards will have a majority of the input, look for the secondary to get the biggest makeover.

Cornerback Aaron Beasley will be gone and strong safety Sam Garnes will lost his starting job, although the Jets want to bring him back as a reserve because he is a hard worker and a good leader for younger players.

Safety Tyrone Carter has been a find as one of the team's strongest tacklers and all-around tough guys. Cornerback Ray Mickens is the same although both are too small to be full-time players.

The Jets and Edwards want youth and speed in the secondary so they can actually bring down backs and receivers in the defensive backfield as well as cover them. The Jets also want to blitz their corners more than they have in the past. Mickens is one of the best in the NFL at that yet former coordinator Ted Cottrell rarely let him loose.

COACHING CAROUSEL: The Jets hired former Giants defensive line coach Denny Marcin for their own vacancy there. While coordinator's usually pick their own assistants, the Jets made this move without hiring one yet because they feel Marcin can work well with those the Jets are considering as coordinator. Linebackers coach Bob Sutton, who was the only defensive assistant kept after Cottrell was fired, is likely in the same situation though he's not guaranteed a job when the new coordinator is hired.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE: Unrestricted: PK Doug Brien (might re-sign, but will look at other kickers), P Dan Stryzinski (won't re-sign), G Brent Smith (may re-sign as a backup), C J.P. Machado (won't re-sign), DT Chester McGlockton (retiring). Restricted: LB Jason Glenn (will re-sign), LB Kenyatta Wright (might re-sign), LB Quincy Stewart (might re-sign), CB Jamie Henderson (re-sign), RT Kareem McKenzie (re-sign with possible extension), WR Kevin Swayne (won't re-sign), DT James Reed (might re-sign), WR Kevin Lockett (might re-sign).

The Jets need another guard and since the draft won't get them one in the early rounds, they may concentrate their efforts on Rams free agent right guard Adam Timmerman.

FEELING A DRAFT: The Jets will pick 12th in the upcoming draft and could go in a number of directions. Since they have several pressing needs that can be addressed in the first round (receiver, defensive back, linebacker, tight end), even if the Jets go with the best available athlete at No. 12, they can still fill a hole.

Defense has always been thought to be the priority here (assuming the Jets fill their need at receiver through free agency) but if some of the best players -- like safety Sean Taylor of Miami, cornerback DeAngelo Hall of Virginia Tech and Miami linebackers D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma -- are gone, one player getting mention is Florida tight end Ben Troupe. With so many high-priority players expected to get contract extensions next season like Chad Pennington and Shaun Ellis, there won't be enough money left to keep tight end Anthony Becht after next season.

MEDICAL WATCH: Rookie S Derek Pagel had shoulder surgery to fix an AC joint. LG Dave Szott missed the final game with a sprained left knee and is considering retirement.


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