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Jets owner: Geno's 'probably way ahead' of Mariota

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PHOENIX -- Asked Monday if his New York Jets have closed the gap on the New England Patriots following this month's expensive foray into free agency, Gang Green owner Woody Johnson gave the most honest answer he could.

"I don't know."

Even after pulling Darrelle Revis away from Bill Belichick, Johnson -- in a post-Rex Ryan universe -- refused to predict any additional wins for New York in the AFC East.

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"He's one player," Johnson said of Revis at the NFL Annual Meeting. "It kind of depends on how the defense works, how, really, the offense and special teams works. It's all related. So, one player can't lift a franchise -- maybe with the exception of a quarterback."

Ah, yes, a quarterback ... the one problem New York can't solve by simply throwing Johnson's money around. The signal-caller slot remains hazy for the Jets, with a middle-of-the-road, thick-bearded veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick set to "compete" with third-year project Geno Smith. The lack of a bona fide franchise passer makes the Jets a clear candidate to pursue a quarterback -- likely Oregon's Marcus Mariota -- with the sixth overall selection in next month's draft. Johnson, though, gave no hints about what New York has planned for the pick.

"I don't have any feeling about it whatsoever," Johnson said. "We're in the process of going through all the candidates, looking at tape, interviews, doing our research."

Asked specifically whether or not he'd feel comfortable bringing another rookie quarterback on board, Johnson wouldn't budge.

"I don't know who it is at this point, whether it's Mariota or anybody else," said Johnson. "It's always in relation to what?"

How about in relation to Geno Smith?

"We haven't made that determination," Johnson said. "Geno's probably way ahead of (Mariota) at this point, believe it or not -- whether you guys have skepticism of that or not."

NFL Media's Mike Mayock might agree with Johnson after calling Mariota "a projection" for every team outside of Chip Kelly's Eagles. And that's the problem for New York. They already have a work-in-progress in Smith, who will hit camp with a two-year head start on anyone pulled to Florham Park through the draft.

If there's overwhelming support inside the Jets organization for landing a new college quarterback come April and May, Johnson on Monday did a fine job of keeping a lid on the master plan.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast makes some bold free agency predictions and discusses Adrian Peterson's future. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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