A heaping helping of off-season Whispers

It will be interesting to see, once he's healthy, how Chad Pennington fits into coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's offense.

In the Jets old offense, under coordinator Paul Hackett, wide receivers had to stick to their routes. In Heimerdinger's system, wide receivers are allowed to read-and-react. They can break off their patterns if they see certain coverages. So there won't be as many timing routes, as in Hackett's offense. This could be hard on Pennington. He's very good at throwing timing routes. These type of routes can help him compensate for his average arm strength. But if he has to improvise and fire the ball to a receiver who breaks off a route at the last second, this might be hard for him, since he doesn't have a great arm. He doesn't fire the ball like Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair, who thrived in this system.

"Steve McNair made Mike Heimerdinger's offense work because he has a cannon for an arm," said one NFL scout. "The Jets won't run that offense. Chad Pennington can hit the center of a dime from 15 yards away, but you don't want him pushing it deeper than that."

Pennington is still rehabilitation his surgical shoulder, and Jay Fiedler has been the starting quarterback in OTA's. According to one player, Fiedler has looked great in the spring practices. Don't rule out a platoon of Pennington and Fiedler early in the season, if Pennington's shoulder is still on the mend . . .

You might be wondering why the Jets signed another quarterback last week. The reason former Kansas quarterback Bill Whittemore was added was to give the Jets an extra arm in training camp. While they already have Pennington, Fiedler, Brooks Bollinger and NFL Europe quarterback Kevin Eakins, there is a good chance that Pennington will be limited in training camp, so they needed a fourth arm for the various drills . . .

So when might holdout John Abraham come back to the team? Probably not anytime soon. Abraham, who is looking for a new long-term contract, definitely won't participate in the ongoing OTA's, and likely won't be in town for the start of training camp on July 28. Remember, Abraham isn't signed, so if he misses training camp practices, he can't be fined. You can't be fined if you aren't under contract. Abraham still hasn't signed the one-year, $6.7 million tender, the team has offered him for 2005 as the club's franchise player. He will only start losing some of that money if he misses regular season games. So the most likely scenario is that Abraham misses some, or most of training camp, but not any regular season games.

"He will likely give them a scare and then report,' said one Jets observer. "He isn't going to want to walk away from [$6.7] million. He hasn't made any money yet."

Abraham's first five years were played under his rookie contract. It's usually the second contract where players make the most money during their NFL careers. So it's highly unlikely that Abraham will want to lose any of the $6.7 million the Jets are obligated to pay him this year once he signs his contract.

"He can show up the Tuesday the week of the first game, and not lose a dime," said the observer.

Abraham likely would have been amenable to play under the one-year tender, if the Jets didn't give his buddy Laveranues Coles an extra $8 million in guaranteed money to an already existing contract. That questionable move reportedly irked Abraham. If they are going to take care of Coles, who blasted the Jets when he left the team in 2003, why won't they take care of him? After all, many people feel Abraham is the most talented player on the Jets.

One major concern with Abraham has to be his conditioning. While he's reportedly working on his own in South Carolina, it probably be better for the team to be monitoring him, especially since he's coming off a knee injury. What often happens with holdouts, when they report late, is they get hurt. With Abraham's injury history, the potential for this to happen has to scare the Jets . . .

The Donnie Abraham situation is bizarre. Even though he reported back to the team last week, after missing the first couple of months of the off-season program, he's still mulling retirement.

Remember what former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy once said, "Once you are thinking about retirement, you are already retired."

"For the time being I'm here," Donnie Abraham said on Wednesday. "We will see what happens."

Does that sound like a guy who is totally committed to playing this year? This situation is baffling. Why are the Jets twisting the arm of a good, not great cornerback to play to his year? It could be related to the close relationship between Donnie Abraham and Jets coach Herman Edwards. When Abraham came into the league in 1996 with Tampa Bay, Edwards was his secondary coach.

But the bottom line is that if the Jets keep the waffling Abraham around, and this precludes them from signing free agent cornerback Ty Law, this could end up hurting their defense in 2005. Law is clearly the better player.

But there could be something else at work here. The Jets might feel that they can't afford Law, who wants big money. Law wants a long-term deal with a large signing bonus. That's not something, the Jets, who have not spent a lot of money this off-season aside from the money given to Coles, are likely to do.

Remember last year Law called a four-year, $26 million dollar offer from the New England Patriots a "slap in the face."

Law is represented by the Poston Brothers, perhaps the most difficult agents to deal with. They often don't deal with reality. The Jets front office were unsuccessful dealing with them during the Kareem McKenzie negotiations. This led McKenzie to sign with the Giants.

It's unlikely Law is going to get an offer akin to that Patriots deal, from the Jets, or any other team, this summer . . .

Former Jets quarterback Ricky Ray has re-signed with Edmonton Eskimos, the team he led to the 2003 Grey Cup Championship . . . The 2003 spending spree of Washington Redskin owner Daniel Snyder clearly didn't work out. Remember he raided the Jets roster to sign Coles, running back Chad Morton, kicker John Hall and guard Randy Thomas. Coles was traded back to the Jets this off-season, and it looks like Morton and Hall are going to be June 1 cap casualties . . .

Remember the sideline argument last year between former Jets running back coach Bishop Harris, and Edwards. This led to Harris' departure from the Jets coaching staff this off-season. He is now the running back coach on the San Francisco 49ers. So what exactly was that argument about? It's hard to tell. Harris isn't talking to the San Francisco media?

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