Around the NFL  

 

What we learned on Day 7 of NFL free agency

If an unsinkable Rex Ryan is the NFL's latest Rasputin, general manager John Idzik's deliberate approach to free agency might just be the New York Jets coach's ultimate undoing.

Free-Agent Tracker
Follow all the developments on the NFL's open market with our up-to-the-minute tracking of 2014's free agents. More...

Ryan's defense relies heavily on strong press-man cornerbacks to operate on all cylinders. He originally set his sights on a reunion with Darrelle Revis, only to watch Idzik stand on the sidelines of a frenzied pursuit that reportedly included more than 20 teams.

Once Revis was out of the picture, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie became the apple of an increasingly desperate Ryan's eye. After Idzik lost DRC to his intercity rival, a source familiar with the Jets' thinking told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that the Giants were "far more aggressive" in their recruiting efforts.

Now that a recently jettisoned Antonio Cromartie is the lone quality cornerback left on the market, a "pissed" Ryan will have to reprise his smoke-and-mirrors act to fend off Idzik's version of the turk for the second consecutive season.

Here's what else we learned on Day 7 of free agency Monday:

1. The Jets' loss is the Giants' gain. After landing a premier nickelback on Sunday and Rodgers-Cromartie on Monday, Tom Coughlin's secondary is now mentioned among those just below the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" in the pecking order.

2. If Ryan is growing desperate at cornerback, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman seems downright apathetic about all of the quality wide receivers being snatched off the open market. One day after practically begging Gettleman to reach out, James Jones signed a three-year contract with the Raiders. The last of the solid, reliable receivers available, Jones is a fine acquisition for general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Just as he did last offseason, Gettleman will have to dumpster-dive for damaged or overlooked players in the second and third waves of free agency.

3. Now that Jones is off the market, all eyes are on Sidney Rice at wide receiver. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports the Jets, Saints and Seahawks are all interested in the 27-year-old. Although the Panthers are the closest Rice has to a hometown team, they have not yet been connected to the former Seattle star.

4. Brandon Weeden wasn't out of work long. The Cowboys signed the Browns' 2012 first-round draft bust to a two-year contract. He can handle extra reps in offseason practices if Tony Romo is still recovering from back surgery.

Weeden also doubles as insurance if Kyle Orton opts not to return for another season. What we're not buying is talk of Weeden as the future starter in Dallas. Now 30 years old and long past the development phase of his career, Weeden has made no progress in reading defenses, pocket movement or ball placement.

5. Weeden wasn't the only quarterback in the news Monday. Rapoport reported the Texans are pushing to trade Matt Schaub, with the Raiders and Browns as interested teams. Due to count $14.5 million against the salary cap, Schaub is more likely to be released -- barring a pay cut to facilitate a trade.

6. The Saints stabilized Drew Brees' pass protection by re-signing solid right tackle Zach Strief to a five-year, $20.5 million contract. Believed to be cap-strapped entering free agency, general manager Mickey Loomis has done well to keep Strief and land a big fish such as Jairus Byrd.

7. The Redskins are bringing back safety Brandon Meriweather, leaving little reason to believe Jim Haslett's secondary will receive a much-needed upgrade this season.

8. After meeting with Jared Allen on Sunday, the Seahawks might be on the outside looking in at the race for defensive tackle Henry Melton.

The "Around The League Podcast" breaks down the latest free agency moves and highlights a few under-the-radar signings.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15