Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jets re-sign Harris, going after Umenyiora?

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The Jets assured their "Core Four" will remain together for another three seasons by re-signing linebacker David Harris to a four-year, $36 million deal, including $29.5 million guaranteed, the most for a linebacker in NFL history.

This deal confirms that Harris, Darrelle Revis, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold will remain in green and white until 2014, when Revis' restructured contract expires.

After the Jets gave Santonio Holmes $50 million and Antonio Cromartie $32 million, many wondered whether Harris would remain unsigned by the team heading into next offseason.

New York knew they couldn't afford to let Harris hit free agency in 2012, not with Bart Scott aging and the premium on middle linebackers in their 3-4 defense. The team also saved $6.4 million dollars on the 2010 salary cap by backloading the deal.

The Jets may find themselves in cap hell in a few seasons but they're playing for a championship right now, future be damned. With an extra $6.4 million this season, what else could the Jets possibly do?

With Shaun Ellis still unsigned and first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson behind the eight-ball thanks to the lockout, the rumors have begun to swirl about the Jets poaching another player from the Giants to bolster their pass rush - disgruntled defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Umenyiora believes he's a top-five defensive end. I don't, and I don't think many people around the NFL do either. The Giants were reportedly looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Umenyiora, but have since realized that nobody is willing to part with one.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, which significantly lowered rookie salaries and signing bonuses, high draft picks have even more value now than ever. Teams already overvalued their first-round picks in the pre-lockout days, meaning now most NFL squads won't be so willing to part with their top picks.

I think the Giants can legitimately expect a second-rounder in return for Umenyiora, especially from a good team who won't have a second-round pick that lands inside the top 50 or even the top 60.

AFC rivals Baltimore and New England are also interested in the Giants defensive end, meaning the Jets will have some competition if they throw their hat into the ring. If anything, trading for Umenyiora to keep him away from Bill Belichick would be a win for New York.

Any team that trades for Umenyiora will have to sign him to a new contract, even though he has two years left on his current deal. The Jets just freed up enough cap space to cover a large portion of the contract they would have to give Umenyiora.

This is a match made in heaven. The Jets desperately need a pass rusher along the defensive line, have the money to pay Umenyiora and have shown a willingness to move draft picks for immediate help.

After trading a fifth-rounder and third-rounder respectively for Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie last season, the Jets would be making a huge blunder if they refused to move a second-rounder for Umenyiora this season.

Holmes and Cromartie were impact players the moment they stepped on the field for New York, much more so than any fifth or third-round pick would have been.

This team is trying to win now and everybody knows it. Make the move now, worry about the money later. It's not like they haven't been playing by that strategy all along.

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