NEW YORK (AP) John Idzik is still calm and deliberate, even when panicked New York Jets fans are begging for more.
Sure, the Jets have upgraded at wide receiver by signing Eric Decker and replaced the departed Austin Howard with Breno Giacomini at right tackle. There have been few splashes, though, by the Jets since the NFL’s free agency period began last week.
They still have plenty of holes to fill on their roster. Just read the frantic posts by fans on Twitter and Jets message boards. Don’t worry, insists Idzik, the Jets’ second-year general manager.
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”Nine days in and in the days leading up to free agency, we feel like we’ve been productive,” Idzik said during a conference call Thursday. ”Yet, we also recognize that there are still opportunities that await us as we go forward – not only free agency, but other avenues, such as waiver claims, trades, street free agent signings, and of course, the draft.”
Free agent quarterback Michael Vick is scheduled to meet with the Jets on Friday, but Idzik would not discuss the visit or a potential signing. If he signs with the Jets, he would be reunited with Marty Mornhinweg, his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and provide strong competition for second-year quarterback Geno Smith.
”Whenever you have some inside knowledge of a player with a coach who has worked with him or a player that has played with him, some member of your staff has been around him for a while, that is a tremendous advantage,” Idzik said. ”There is less projection.”
Mark Sanchez is due a $2 million roster bonus next Tuesday, so the Jets soon need to make a decision on his future. Idzik said the team and Sanchez’s representatives have been in close contact. If the Jets cut Sanchez, as expected, they’ll be in the market for a veteran backup – a role perhaps Vick could fill.
Idzik highlighted the fact the Jets have already re-signed seven of their own free agents, including right guard Willie Colon, linebacker Calvin Pace, tight end Jeff Cumberland and kicker Nick Folk – something he thought was ”somewhat unrecognized.”
Despite the signings of Decker and Giacomini, the Jets have lost out on several chances to upgrade at cornerback. Darrelle Revis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vontae Davis and Alterraun Verner have all signed elsewhere, and the Jets cut Antonio Cromartie, who signed with Arizona on Thursday.
”We really have operated off a consistent plan,” Idzik said. ”We said all along that we would be judicious and selective in free agency.”
Idzik refused to look at it as missed opportunities, adding that the Jets would remain ”open-minded” when it comes to free agency, trades and the draft. Still, the Jets are thin at cornerback – once one of their strong spots – with Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson currently the likely starters.
”I feel very good about our corners,” coach Rex Ryan insisted, running through a list of players that also includes Darrin Walls and Ras-I Dowling.
There were some reports Ryan has been angry at the Jets losing out on various free agents, but the coach said his emotions are directed at the player and not at Idzik and the team for failing to seal the deal.
”As far as ever being upset with John, no, there can’t be anything further from the truth,” Ryan said. ”I know the plan. We are together. We are side by side in this the entire way.”
Idzik said the Jets told Cromartie the team would welcome him back, but there would have to be a fit by both sides. Cromartie, who dealt with hip issues that hindered him last season, got a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
As for Revis, neither Idzik nor Ryan went into whether there were talks about bringing him back after Tampa Bay cut him.
”This isn’t fantasy football,” Ryan said. ”There are a lot of factors that go into obtaining players. … Now, he’s a Patriot. That’s the way it is.”
Idzik made it clear that he won’t stray from his game plan, no matter how much pressure to make moves and spend big money comes from outside the team’s facility.
”What we’re trying to build here is sustainable success,” Idzik said. ”We’re not going to put a finger in the dike and try to do something for short-term gain if we feel like it’s going to hurt us in the long term. We want to do things that are going to help us in the short term, but we realize they’re going to help us in the long term, too.
”That’s how we define winning.”
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