The New York Jets were not able to sign Nnamdi Asomugha, the premier cornerback in this year’s free agent crop. Had they been able to win the battle for his services, the Jets would have featured two of the league’s best cornerbacks, and arguably the best 1-2 tandem in recent memory, if not ever. The Jets are hardly disappointed with their moves in free agency though, or with the state of their roster as the preseason approaches. Asomugha signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Jets went to Plan B, resigning cornerback Antonio Cromartie while also landing wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
It was an impressive display of agile and aggressive deal making by general manager Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office. Though there may be another minor move or two on the horizon for New York, the Jets look to pretty much be set as the August 4th deadline to get under the cap looms on Thursday. As Tannenbaum sees it, the Jets are in great shape and pleased with their moves despite not being able to land Asomugha. Mike Tannenbaum joined ESPN Radio NY with The Michael Kay Show to discuss how the dealings with Asomugha unfolded, if the unsuccessful bid affected what they had to pay Cromartie, if the amount of money Asomugha commanded and how that might be potentially awkward with the more modestly paid Darrelle Revis was a factor, the risk of signing Plaxico Burress, the importance of this year for Mark Sanchez and how rookies will be affected by not having mini-camp.
How did the dealings go with Nnamdi Asomugha?:
“I’m not a big deadline guy. If you get a deal done five minutes after then I think sometimes they can be artificial. With that said … what we try to do is protect ourselves. Lines of communication obviously were open with a number of different scenarios and after Nnamdi didn’t work out, obviously we were on to Antonio Cromartie and Plaxico Burress. At the end of the week, we felt really good. We accomplished everything we wanted. We wanted a front-line cornerback which we can’t back in Cro.”
Did the pursuit of Asomugha cost you more money to get Cromartie?:
“No. I think we felt like Asomugha was an opportunity we had to pursue … and then when that didn’t work out we moved onto other situations. And in fact we signed Plaxico before Cromartie was done. I think Cromartie’s a good deal for both sides. He’s happy, we’re happy. We invested a second-round pick in him and he played very well for us last year. We were the third-best defense in the league. So it was never a question of were we happy with Cromartie.”
Did you have to set a limit on Asomugha to avoid some awkwardness with Darrelle Revis?:
“That wasn’t really the main driver in what we were trying to accomplish. We just put a value on a player and what’s appropriate for us. You have to have walk away. Obviously there are egos involved with players and agents, but more functionally, there were other things we had to get done — right tackle, safety, getting another receiver back.”
On taking the risk of signing Plaxico Burress:
“Given his physical attributes, we think he’s going to help us this year. Will he be 100 percent the same player. Obviously that’s hard to say. Even if he starts off at whatever, 60 or 70 percent of what he was, and as the season goes on, improves, we really feel like his stature and his ability in the red zone is going to help us. We appreciate the fact that it’s going to be a little bit of a work in progress.”
Is Jerricho Cotchery now on the trade block?:
“We’re certainly open to trades and I’m certain will have them throughout the preseason, I just won’t comment on any specific player.”
Given the weapons he now has, how big of a year is this for Mark Sanchez?:
“Every year in the NFL it’s an important year. He’s been in the league for two years and has four road playoff wins. I think that’s a pretty good way to judge a quarterback. And the thing about Mark is that he loves football. He’s a football junkie and it means a lot to him and he hates to lose. I think we’ve got the right guy there. He has tremendous leadership ability and I think, more and more, you’ll see this is his team.”
What do you expect from the rookies since they didn’t have mini-camps?:
“That’s a concern. I think it’s going to be harder for younger players, in general, this year, to have an impact early. We’ve talked about that quite a bit and simplifying some things. Certainly the undrafted free agents aren’t going to have as much time to distinguish themselves, but we’re all dealing with the same set of rules. I would anticipate more veterans making it than in the past.”