Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.
Training camp report dates:Rookies and veterans, July 27.
Offseason in a nutshell: Former Jets general manager John Idzik was famously chided for his penchant for slow-playing situations. His pragmatism amid tons of salary-cap space drove the fan base crazy and eventually led to an early departure. What would they have said about him if, on July 6, his starting quarterback was still unsigned (and not in minicamp) and his star defensive player was miserable having to play on the franchise tag? The NFL is full of tough decisions, and perhaps Mike Maccagnan will score a coup with his slow playing this offseason. No one is blaming him for resisting Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract demands, but Muhammad Wilkerson should have been under contract a year ago. So much of the equity Maccagnan built up over the last year is on the line, and he knows it.
Player to watch: Wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Watching Marshall play last year was a joy, and there were games when he single-handedly willed the Jets to victory. In 11 games, he was targeted double-digit times and got better as the season progressed. Over the final six games, Marshall caught 47 balls for 702 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite initial questions about how he would fit into Chan Gailey's quick-cut offense, Marshall has been the consummate receiver for this system and rolls into his age-32 season in the best shape of his life. Players can defy father time for various reasons and we hope that Marshall can stave off a drop in production for another year. Training camp is a tough time to gauge these things, but perhaps the Jets' usage of other budding receivers like Devin Smith will be telling.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS:
Harrison hinted to Around The NFL around this time last year that he was about to get paid, and after another stellar season at nose tackle, the Giants jumped on the opportunity to make him an every-down player. The Jets opted for 280-pound Steve McLendon to replace Harrison despite the fact that they are different players. Harrison was a classic two-gap controller who could also bump down and rush the passer. McLendon is much more of a technician, which is fine, but doesn't the Jets' defensive line work better when Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams have more one-on-one opportunities? Richardson can also bump down in odd fronts, which might end up being the most productive scenario.
Boy, do the Jets hope so. It's not Milliner's fault that we're in this position right now. The Jets selected a player with five previous surgeries and expected him to glide through an NFL career without any setbacks. That just doesn't happen. But Milliner is on a yoga kick and is finally healthy now, which is the mother of all tropes. Let's give him a chance to prove it, though. Good cover skills don't vanish and maybe the overwhelming confidence needed to be a defender out on an island develops a bit during camp. It is a big if, but with Darrelle Revis on the mend and getting older, the Jets could be in the similar pickle they were in back in 2014.
If I were Wilkerson, I wouldn't. The former first-round pick has been promised a new contract by three different general managers and two head coaches over the course of his career. He's thrived under three different coordinators, two different systems and three different positions and there is no reason why he shouldn't be locked into a deal right now. Von Miller could pave the way for more players to lose a year in their prime in order to cash in during free agency (if he doesn't accept franchise tender) and Wilkerson would be wise to follow him. He's just as good, if not better, than Fletcher Cox, and the Jets understand exactly how much it will take to sign him.
Way-too-early season prediction: Even with Fitzpatrick, it's hard to view this as a playoff-bound club. At the moment, we have them projected for six or seven wins depending on how a much more difficult schedule shakes out.