Dan Leberfeld's Blog

A Jets linebacker injury 07.31.15

Florham Park – Late in the Jets’ Friday practice in Florham Park, rookie outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin went off the field holding his left wrist.

The injury came while he was attempting to rush the passer against the Jets’ talented left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Ferguson got the best of Mauldin on the play, manhandling him, and throwing him to the ground. It was definitely a trial-by-fire for the Jets’ fourth round pick out of Louisville.

It’s unclear if the injury is serious.

It didn’t seem to be.

Bowles – “Sheldon’s a good guy.” 07.31.15

Florham Park – It’s surprising to many that Jets DE Sheldon Richardson would get busted for speeding and resisting arrest, shortly after being suspended by the NFL for failing a marijuana test.

“It’s disappointing that it’s back to back,” said Jets coach Todd Bowles.

So why would Richardson drive his Bentley 143 MPH in St. Louis, right after getting nailed by the NFL for smoking pot? It’s seems illogical to many.

“In his mind, obviously it was denial, and clearly he has a problem.” Bowles said.

Bowles feels this talented player needs some professional assistance.

“He hasn’t been smart, he hasn’t been clear in the head and clearly he needs some help,” Bowles said.

The coach views this as a seminal moment in Richardson’s young life.

“Sometimes things spark (you) and make you a better person, and there are sometimes you spiral the other way,” Bowles said.

But no matter what anybody says, Bowles thinks the affable St. Louis-native is “a good guy.”

“It’s hard to say a guy’s a good guy when two things like this happen, but he’s a good guy,” Bowles said. “But good guys don’t always do the right thing.”

This ranking is just unfair to Geno 07.30.15

Florham Park – ESPN ranked the starting NFL quarterbacks from 1-32.

This was based on exhaustive research by writer Mike Sando, who interviewed myriad NFL coaches and executives.

Geno Smith was ranked 32nd.

Did he deserve a low ranking? No question. He was wildly inconsistent in his first two seasons. I feel he should have sat for a couple of years, but that’s another story.

Is he the long-term answer for the Jets at quarterback? That remains to be seen.

I just don’t agree with some of the people they ranked in front of him.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was ranked 27th. There is zero evidence Bortles is better than Smith. Bortles was pretty darn bad last year.

One NFL coach told Sando that Bortles, “looked lost” last year.

In ESPN’s quarterback rating system (Total QBR), based on their own formula (different than the NFL’s QB rating), Smith was tied for 25th with former Buffalo Bills QB Kyle Orton, and Bortles was dead last (30th).

To see Bortles five spots ahead of Smith surprised me.

Don’t get confused. I’m not a special-pleader for Smith. I’m not lobbying for the guy. I have no idea if he’s the answer for the Jets.

I’m just saying to put guys like Bortles, not to mention rookies Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, who haven’t played a down of NFL football, ahead of Smith, is unfair.

NFLPA explains their case 07.29.15


The NFLPA filed an appeal today on behalf of Tom Brady in U.S. District Court of Minnesota to vacate the four-game suspension upheld by Goodell based on the following:

There was no direct evidence in the Wells Report so the discipline was based on a made up “general awareness” standard to justify such absurd and unprecedented punishment.

Roger Goodell delegated his disciplinary authority to Troy Vincent, violating our Collective Bargaining Agreement, and then as the “arbitrator,” he ruled on his own improper delegation, botching basic arbitration law and fundamental fairness.

A collectively bargained policy already exists regarding tampering with equipment that provides only for fines, not suspensions. Troy Vincent ignored this policy when he issued his initial discipline. The policy that Vincent did apply to Brady only covers teams and team executives, not players. The NFL once again violated players’ right to advance notice of discipline to try to justify unprecedented punishment.

No player in NFL history has served a suspension for “non-cooperation” or “obstruction.” And, in this case, the evidence is paper-thin.

The appeals hearing held on June 23, 2015 defied any concept of fundamental fairness and violated the principles of our CBA.

The collective bargaining agreement provides procedures and guidelines for how the Commissioner conducts disciplinary hearings and the rules applicable to players. The NFL chose to violate these principles.

By pursuing this petition, our union is protecting the rights of Tom Brady and of every NFL player past, present and future.

*Press Release

Geno is right 07.29.15

Geno Smith is right.

When the Jets’ third-year quarterback was asked about being ranked as the 32nd best NFL quarterback by ESPN, he replied, “I hate to talk about individual stuff. It’s a team game. It’s about where we end up at the end of the year.”

Good answer.

Football is the quintessential team sport.

Ranking quarterbacks, or ranking the top 100 players, aren’t what it’s all about.

The most important rankings are your won-loss record, and which team is the last standing at the end of the season.

Little else matters.

Clearly Smith needs to play better than he did in his first two seasons (when he was forced into action before he was ready) for the Jets to be an improved team.

But he is right, individual rankings don’t matter.

Team rankings do.

*Don’t forget to pick up the Training Camp Preview issue of Jets Confidential Magazine. Tons of good stuff about Gang Green. You can subscribe to JC Magazine by calling 1-800-932–4557 (M-F, 9-5) or on this website. A fun read for Jets fans.

NFLPA rips Brady decision 07.28.15


The Commissioner’s ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process. The NFL remains stuck with the following facts:

The NFL had no policy that applied to players;
The NFL provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players;
The NFL resorted to a nebulous standard of “general awareness” to predicate a legally unjustified punishment;
The NFL had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs; and
The NFL violated the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.
The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors.

The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.

NFL on why they upheld Brady suspension 07.28.15

*NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal ‎from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23.

In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.

On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support‎, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.

*Statement from the NFL.

NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales Ranking 07.23.15

NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales Rankings – FY16 Q1 (March 1-May 31, 2015):

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
2. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
5. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
6. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
7. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
8. Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants
9. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
10. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
12. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
13. Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
14. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
15. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
16. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
17. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
18. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
19. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
20. Navorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
21. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
22. Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins
23. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
24. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
25. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
26. Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
27. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
28. Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
29. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
30. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
31. Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles
32. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
33. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
34. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
35. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
36. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
37. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
38. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
39. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers*
40. Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
41. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
42. Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
43. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
44. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
45. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
46. Kevin White, Chicago Bears
47. Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers
48. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
49. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
50. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

Give him what Revis got 07.16.15

If a 30-year-old cornerback can get $39 million from the Jets, why can’t Mo Wilkerson, who has been one of the best defensive players on the Jets the last few years, and is in his prime?

The 30-year-old cornerback has received repeated large paydays. Wilkerson, 25, is trying to get his first true big one.

How about giving Mo the same exact guaranteed money as Darrelle Revis – $39 million?

Give them the same exact coin.

That seems fair.

****The training camp preview issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out, and on news stands. The cover is pictured above. You can also subscribe to this monthly must-read for Jets fans by calling 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5), or you can subscribe on this website.

What’s a fair contract for Wilkerson? 07.07.15

So what is a fair deal for Mo Wilkerson?

San Diego Chargers defender Corey Liuget, another 3-4 end, just got a five-year extension worth $58.5 million with $30 million guaranteed.

Another 3-4 end, the New Orleans Saints’ Cameron Jordan, just signed a five-year, $60 million deal worth a reported $33.8 million guaranteed.

Are these deals good benchmarks for Wilkerson? To a degree. These are both good players, but Wilkerson is a little better.

Last year, Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt, another 3-4 player, got a six-year, $100 million contract extension that includes $51.9 million guaranteed.

Forget about the Ndamukong Suh contract with the Miami Dolphins. That is so high, it’s unfair to the Jets to even bring that deal into the conversation.

So to me, the landing spot for the Jets and Wilkerson, is halfway between those two recent 3-4 end deals and Watt. Mo is very good, but he’s not as good as Watt — few players are now, or were in history.

If a soon-to-be 30-year-old cornerback can get $39 million guaranteed from the Jets, why can’t Wilkerson? It’s a fair request, but it’s probably not going to happen.

How about meeting in the middle of Jordan ($33.8 million guaranteed) and Revis ($39 million guaranteed)?

Give Mo between $36-37 million guaranteed in a five-year deal, and get it over with.

***Don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine. The good stuff on Gang Green every month. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can subscribe on this website.

My thoughts on Mo Wilkerson 07.06.15

Mo Wilkerson is a heck of a player.

I have covered the Jets for 20 years now, and he’s one of the better players I’ve covered.

I think perhaps his significant talent lost some luster because he missed a bunch of games last season due to a serious turf toe injury.

Also, he’s pretty quiet, and doesn’t say much to the press, which probably lowers his profile somewhat.

People are so obsessed with sacks, but 3-4 ends have so much more on their plate than that. They can’t just come off the edge and go after the quarterback. There’s more to the job than that.

Mo commands a lot of double teams, which frees up other players to make plays, whether it’s Calvin Pace next to him or David Harris behind him. Ask those guys what Mo does for them.

But aside from consistently taking up double-teams, he does make myriad impact plays of his own, and is so intimidating, he often makes offensive linemen opposite him jump offsides. They get really antsy when No. 96 lines up over them.

Wilkerson plays with really good technique and does a nice job of shooting his hands and getting them under offensive linemen’s pads. He has so much base strength it’s hard for offensive linemen to move him off his spot. He also has very good instincts, a terrific feel for the game.

I’m not easily impressed, but I find this player very impressive.

***To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can pick one up on a news stand.

Kudos to Mike Maccagnan 07.02.15

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan is a true believer in sticking to his draft value board, and not reaching for need.

It’s the best way to handle the draft. It’s time-tested.

So when the Jets picked a defensive lineman with the sixth pick of the 2015 draft, it clearly wasn’t a need for his team, but it represented great value.

And in the NFL, with so many other injuries, and occasional suspensions, often when you pick a player who doesn’t seem like a need, you end up needing him.

As you all know by now, Jets DE Sheldon Richardson was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season.

So Maccagnan sticking to his board, not trading out of the spot, and picking USC DE Leonard Williams with the sixth pick of the draft, is looking pretty smart today.

***To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can do so on this website. A must-read for Jets fans.

It’s a good way to handle suspended players 07.02.15

The NFL announced earlier this afternoon – “Sheldon Richardson of the New York Jets has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

“Richardson will be eligible to return to the Jets’ active roster on Monday, October 5 following the team’s October 4 game against the Miami Dolphins.

“Richardson is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.”

I’ve always liked the fact that the league allows suspended players to participate in training camp and the preseason. Why throw a guy to the curb when he’s down? Help him out; keep him in a structured environment; give him some support. After all, he’s still going to feel the pain of the suspension and lost game checks. It’s not like you are rewarding him; just trying to lend a hand to somebody who needs some help and mentoring, something coaches tend to be very good at.

Kudos to the NFL and the NFLPA for this set-up.

Bowles on what Jets standout player needs to work on 06.30.15

Sheldon Richardson is a very talented player. He now has two terrific seasons under his belt, earning the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and then making a trip to the Pro Bowl last season.

The Jets are lucky to have him under contract for the next two years. If they can keep him playing under that deal in 2015 and 2016, that would be the best case scenario for them. That could be tough. Next off-season could get ugly (that is the main reason I said they might need to consider trading him next year if a team blows them away with an offer).

Speaking of off-seasons, the way Richardson handled this past one, which recently ended, was less than ideal.

Whether players like it or not, even guys with a ton of natural ability, like Richardson, off-season workouts are important, especially when a new coaching staff comes to town, installing a new playbook, changing some techniques and so forth.

For Richardson to miss some workouts this off-season couldn’t have pleased Todd Bowles. Yes they are voluntary, and yes he is supremely talented, but he’s a 24-year-old maturing lineman who still has a lot to work on.

Just ask Bowles.

“He can still be better fundamentally,” Bowles said in March. “He can add a toolbox to his pass rush which is good. Different pass rush moves. Staying low and using his hands more. [He] can get even better and learn the mental aspect of the game.”

Does that sound like a guy who should miss some workouts? Probably not.

***To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can do so on this website.

An opponent the Jets can’t stop in the latest issue of JC 06.26.15

The latest issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is loaded with tons of good stuff on Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else . . .

*Page after page of Jets Whispers.

*An opponent the Jets can’t stop.

*Why the Jets should trade one of their best players for a king’s ransom.

*Firing back at Rex’s latest assault on the Jets.

*How players can avoid financial disaster.

*And so much more.

Don’t miss out. Pick one up on a Tri-State area news stand, or you can subscribe by calling 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5). You can also subscribe to the magazine on this website. A must read for any die-hard Jets fans.

Brandon Marshall will speak at NFL Rookie Symposium 06.17.15


AFC rookies to attend June 21-24, NFC rookies June 24-27

The NFL kicks off its 18th Rookie Symposium on Sunday, June 21, emphasizing the sport’s legacy and tradition of character and leadership, as well as social and professional responsibility. The four-day orientation held at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora, Ohio, will introduce the 2015 NFL Draft class to life in the NFL prior to the rookies reporting to training camps next month.

The NFL Rookie Symposium is an orientation for all drafted rookies based on the four core values of the league – Responsibility to Team, Respect, Integrity and Resilience. The symposium includes presentations, videos and workshops on player health and safety, decision making, mental health, substance abuse, finance, building a winning culture and bystander intervention.

Rookies are provided with resources and best practices to assist them with their shared responsibility in successfully identifying off-the-field challenges and transitioning from college to the professional level.

Guest speakers at the Rookie Symposium (June 21-24 for AFC rookies, June 24-27 for NFC rookies) include current and former players who have experienced a wide-range of successes and challenges in their football careers and personal lives.

Presenters include former NFL players PHILLIP BUCHANON, CRIS CARTER, WARRICK DUNN, EDDIE GEORGE, DONTE STALLWORTH, SAMMIE STROUGHTER and ROSS TUCKER. They will be joined by current players including Cardinals wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD, Ravens running back JUSTIN FORSETT, Jets wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL, Eagles wide receiver JORDAN MATTHEWS and Colts safety MIKE ADAMS.

Oakland Raiders general manager REGGIE MCKENZIE and New York Giants general manager JERRY REESE will speak to the rookies in their respective conferences about the expectations of football players at the professional level.

Pro Football Hall of Famers CURTIS MARTIN and ANTHONY MUÑOZ will conduct history sessions for the rookies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

Additional speakers include representatives from the NFL office and club personnel and professionals in specialized fields.

Panel discussion topics include “Expectations of an NFL Player,” “Transitioning to the NFL,” “Reaching Out,” “Defining Success,” and “Staying in the Game.”

All rookies also will participate in a PLAY 60 youth football clinic with children from the Cleveland area at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative complex (AFC rookies June 23 at 9:30 AM; NFC rookies June 26 at 9:30 AM).

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