What about Lynch's health?

John Lynch's hard-hitting style has led to some shoulder problems. Health concerns are a reason Tampa Bay is prepared to release or trade him.

Word out of Tampa Bay is that injury concerns are a big reason the Buccaneers are prepared to release or trade the five-time Pro Bowl safety.

Lynch recently had neck surgery to alleviate "stingers" that forced him to miss games against Dallas and New Orleans in 2003. He also missed parts of the games against New Orleans and Tennessee before undergoing surgery on January 12.

A "stinger" is a neck injury that causes pain to shoot down the arm and shoulder. Buccaneers officials think that this injury could have a negative impact on Lynch's future, but the safety disagrees.

"I'm feeling just wonderful now," said Lynch. "I did undergo surgery this year to take some bone spurs out. I know from (doctors) that I have healthy years in front of me.

"Dr. [Robert] Watkins furnished a letter regarding my health that says I'm at no greater risk than any other NFL player. And I feel comfortable about that."

The Buccaneers don't have the same positive outlook.

"They did have some concern, but ultimately, I don't think that had anything to do with it, because when I was healthy last year, [the coaches] thought I was playing the best football of my career," said Lynch. "I felt the same way. I take great pride in keeping myself in great shape. The whole issue of my health was blown out of proportion. This was a philosophical decision on their part.''

Why, if Lynch is healthy and coming a season when he felt he was playing the best football of his career, would Tampa Bay brass decide they want to start third-year safety Jermaine Phillips ahead of him?

Remember a big reason Lynch will be playing elsewhere next year is that Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden told him that Phillips would go into training camp as the starter at strong safety. The Buccaneers clearly think Lynch's history of neck and shoulder injuries (last season's injury wasn't the first) is a big problem, and is a major reason they made the decision last week to let him shop himself around.

The fearless approach to hitting and tackling that Lynch takes to the field, also has a downside. It has led to myriad injuries.

So when it comes to the Jets or other potential suitors for the likely Hall-of-Fame player, let the buyer beware.

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