Jets Journal might not be coming back

A heaping helping of off-season Whispers - <p>

Herman Edwards wanted to make the Jets a much younger team this off-season, and he clearly has accomplished that. The Jets now have just 19 players who are 27 years or older and 71 under the age of 26 . . .

Edwards was asked recently if the team was interested in signing a veteran backup quarterback and responded, "Money's a big denominator in this league on how you go about doing things."

You have to wonder if Edwards is a little frustrated, once again, with the team's spending pattern. We hear this issue frustrated him last season. According to a source close to Edwards, the coach wasn't happy that he had to keep certain players because of the cap ramifications of cutting them. Players like Vinny Testaverde and Mo Lewis probably would have been gone before last season if not for the huge cap hit associated with releasing these players in 2003.

The current Jets management, fairly or unfairly, is starting to get a reputation of pulling purse-strings because of the expensive stadium they are attempting to build in Manhattan. Long-time Jets beat writer Rich Cimini recently wrote a column wondering if the stadium project is impacting the team's spending on players.

A veteran NFL defensive back told Jets Confidential recently that safety John Lynch's decision to sign with Denver instead of the Jets was a mainly related to money. The Broncos offered a more lucrative deal.

If Jets owner Woody Johnson wants to help dispel this notion that team spends conservatively, he should do everything he can to sign quarterback Chad Pennington to a new deal before the season starts.

It's also a smart football decision.

Pennington's contract is up after 2004 season. If the Jets wait, they could end up paying a lot more than they would have to now. If Pennington has a monster year, he could ask for a contract similar to the Colts Peyton Manning, who received a $98 million contract with a $32 million signing bonus. Manning and Pennington have the same agent – Tom Condon . . .

We mentioned in the last Whispers column how well Jets defensive tackle Alan Harper played down-the-stretch of the NFL Europe season. He was rewarded by making the All- NFL Europe team.

Also playing well overseas was linebacker Ryan Myers. He was selected as the Scottish Claymores 2004 co-MVP (voted on by Claymores' players and fans) after breaking the team's single-season tackle record with 73 tackles and two passes defensed after starting all 10 games. He has never been in a Jets training camp. He was signed after the season. We hear he has very good instincts . . .

The perception was that cornerback Jamie Henderson got a raw deal because he didn't get to sign his contract tender before his motorcycle accident. But the bottom line is the Jets never intended on signing him to that deal. While they tendered him, they planned on signing him for less money than that offer.

"The fact is, they never really intended to sign him to the (qualifying offer), but we never got the opportunity to discuss an alternative," said Henderson's agent Pat Dye. Henderson has been injured so much during his four-year Jets career, the team would have likely looked to sign him to a minimum contract.

Now that he's likely going to miss the entire 2004 season due to the head injuries suffered in the accident, the team isn't obliged to pay him anything. While that might make them look like bad, it's the correct way to handle the situation in the era of the salary cap. Teams can't afford to pay players who suffer non-football injuries, and have that salary count against the cap . . .

What a sad story involving Jets scout Bob Schmitz, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 65. After a long scouting career, he finally retired on June 1. Just a little over a week later he died of a head attack.

"He was all excited about retiring," said Jets consultant Dick Haley.

Haley hired Schmitz off the Pittsburgh Steelers staff in 1995. He offered him very good money to leave Pittsburgh because he felt Schmitz would be a boon to the Jets scouting staff. And he was.

"He had a very good eye for talent," said Buffalo Bills GM Tom Donahoe, who worked with Schmitz in Pittsburgh. "If he put his stamp on a player, you knew that player could play." . . .

We hear the Jets are now reviewing bids from various banks who want to loan them the money to finance the new stadium. From what we hear, they are getting numerous offers. The Jets are willing to put up $800 million for the proposed Westside Stadium project. The team hopes to have a "shovel in the ground" by next spring. But between now and then they have a lot of work to do. They expect a myriad of lawsuits attempting to stop the project . . .

There are whispers that the television show "Jets Journal" might not be coming back. The show, co-hosted by Marty Lyons and Al Trautwig, could become a victim of the Jets bad blood with MSG Network, the station that airs the program. The network is owned by James Dolan, who also owns Madison Square Garden. Dolan doesn't want the Jets new stadium to reach fruition because he feels it will take events away from – "The Garden." Dolan has actually financed commercials denouncing the new stadium project. With all this going on, there is a good chance "Jets Journal" is toast . . .

We hear the Jets were interested in signing former Miami Dolphin wide receiver Robert Baker, but he missed his flight, because he forgot his ID. They decided not to give him a second visit. Baker would have been a candidate for the kick return job. Baker signed with the CFL.

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