A heaping helping of Jets Whispers

Curtis Martin was the only Jet player in attendance at Eric Mangini's press conference.

Martin's future was up in the air, but with Mangini's background with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Martin is a lock to come back and have a prominent role. Martin is the type of leader the young coach will need to help him establish his program . . .

Linebacker Bob Sutton is the leading candidate for the defensive coordinator job. But whether he gets the job or not, Sutton will be retained. He coached with Mangini when both were assistants under Bill Parcells in Hempstead. Actually, he's been an assistant under the last three coaches. But if Sutton becomes defensive coordinator, it could be by title only. There is a good chance Mangini will call the defense this year.

When you are Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator, like Mangini was last year, people always wonder if you are actually calling the plays. Belichick is considered the top defensive mind in football, and he's always heavily involved with the defense.

So this begs the question – who called the defensive plays last year in New England, Belichick or his defensive coordinator – Mangini?

"I called every single play last year," said Mangini . . .

Mangini's brother-in-law is Cleveland Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro . . .

There is no questioning Mangini as a strategist. He gets high marks from most people who know him for his football mind. The big question about him is regarding discipline. He's a soft-spoken guy who is 35 but looks 25. Will he be able to command the respect of NFL players? Some Jets veterans remember him as a low-level assistant under Parcells.

"He used to get coffee for us in the locker room," remembers one player.

He could have a hard time with players who remember him in that role.

It's important for Mangini to hire a couple of hard-ass assistants who can play the bad cop role. Former Jets linebacker Bryan Cox would be the perfect candidate for that role.

Mangini is taking a much more active role in hiring his assistants than Herman Edwards did. We hear that a number of Edwards' assistants, especially the coordinators, were hired by Terry Bradway. It was assumed that Donnie Henderson was an Edwards hire, but we hear Bradway handled most of that interview process. Mangini isn't going to handle things that way . . .

If the Jets brass wanted Mike Heimerdinger to stay, why did they fire his best friend on the staff, tight end coach John Zernhelt? Heimerdinger and Zernhelt coached together on the college level. This was a strange move if the Jets intended on keeping Dinger with the team. Why not keep Zernhelt? . . .

Another reason Heimerdinger likely wants to leave the Jets for the Denver Broncos is that his son, Brian Heimerdinger, is a wide receiver for Colorado State, and he'd probably love to live in the Mile High City to be close to his son . . .

One scenario that might be going on with the Heimerdinger stalemate is haggling over his contract. If the Jets fire him, they would owe him the entire $2.3 million remaining over the last two years of his contract. And then if he was hired by Denver, they might decide to just pay him $100,000 a year, and the Jets would still owe him the difference. The Broncos could take advantage of the situation by giving Dinger a low offer, making the Jets pay most of his salary over the next two years. The Jets likely want to avoid this situation. They probably want him off the books entirely . . .

Many people think the Jets are going to pick Virginia offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the fourth pick of the first round. And nothing would make him happier. Ferguson, a Freeport, Long Island native, grew up 10 minutes from the Jets' training complex.

‘I would be happy to go anywhere," Ferguson told Jets Confidential at the Senior Bowl. "But I would rather go home."

Ferguson is 6-5, 297 pounds with 33-inch arms. Long arms are a good characteristic for an offensive tackle because they can keep a defender from getting his hands on the tackle's body . . .

After dealing with a "leak-fest" during the Herman Edwards regime, Bradway is trying to stop people in Weeb Ewbank Hall from giving away information to the media off the record. There is a gag order currently in effect at the Jets complex. That is one reason why the New York Post has been slamming the Jets for their handling of the Heimerdinger situation. One writer is very frustrated he can't get information on what is going on, so he is taking his anger out on the organization by calling them names, like referring to them as a "bumbling organization." . . .

Bradway spent about 20 minutes talking to Ferguson on the practice field at the Senior Bowl on Monday. This was followed up by a Jets scout talking to him for 10 minutes on Tuesday. Other players Jets officials were showing a lot of interest in were Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler and Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall . . .

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