AFC East: Jets Still Need Defenders

Notes from around the AFC East. The New York Jets cut Ty Law to open up some cap space, but unlike previous years, there was no need to unload pricey veterans on June 1st. As the Mangini regime progresses, the Jets roster moves appear to be measured and controlled. On the Jets list of needs is a new defensive end. There's one AFC defender they may be targeting.

 NEW YORK JETS TEAM REPORT

Unlike previous years, the arrival of June 1 didn't bring a wave of NFL veterans being released in cost-cutting maneuvers. In fact, nobody in the NFL was released on that day.

That's mainly because the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, which was reached in March, raised this year's salary-cap from $85.5 million to $102 million, giving cap-strapped teams some instant relief and more of an opportunity to restructure contracts, rather than release players.

Still, even if the old cap figure had still been in place, it's doubtful the new Jets' regime would have looked to go after big-name players on the downsides of their careers.

No matter who becomes available in 2006, the Eric Mangini/Mike Tannenbaum regime almost certainly will continue to build the way it has over the first few months since taking over -- by targeting lesser-known players who fit the Jets' offensive and defensive systems.

The positions that still need to be filled, even after free agency and the draft, appear to be pass-rushing defensive end or linebacker and game-breaking wide receiver. At this point, there do not seem to be any big-time wideouts who are being dumped, other than, of course, Terrell Owens. And his me-first ways obviously wouldn't be a good fit in a Belichickian system such as this.

There could be options at the DE/OLB spot, however. Consider that Houston, which has cap problems, may part ways with DE/OLB Jason Babin, as the Texans will be switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3. While Mangini has said the Jets will not have a base defense, per se, it is expected that they will line up in the 3-4 more than in the 4-3.

The Texans' selection of North Carolina State sackmeister Mario Williams with the top overall pick obviously demonstrates that they want to upgrade that position.

Babin had eight sacks over the past two seasons and the 26-year-old might appreciate a change in scenery, especially with a new regime taking over in Houston.

PERSONNEL

The Jets seem to have solved their offensive-line woes by taking T D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold in the first round. Still, there are plenty of questions as they head into the spring mini-camp season.

Quarterback still is unsettled, as they are keeping most news of Chad Pennington's rehab under wraps. The previous regime did the same thing last year, as Pennington's surgically-repaired right shoulder came along very slowly. One can't help but wonder if he is progressing more quickly this time around, although he says he is confident that he is.

Also, the needs of a pass-rushing defensive end and a speedy, defense-stretching wideout were not addressed in the draft. Thus, the Jets may wind up scanning the waiver wire very carefully, both after June 1, and at the end of training camp, for potential stopgap solutions.

Related: Bills Report | Jets Confidential | Dolphin Digest | Patriots Insider

 


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