The Second Wave

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I was just saying to another football writer how impressed I am with something the Jets are doing. It’s a good plan.

Let’s be honest, the Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to in 2011, isn’t a great deal for the players.

The owners won.

The middle class in the NFL is drying up.

You see certain star players, like Ndamukong Suh and Darrelle Revis, sign mega-deals early in free agency, and then things dried up, slowed up, and you now see so many guys just trying to get jobs for the league minimum, or a little more than that.

So why not collect as many young veterans as you can, bring them in for a minimal deal, and let them compete?

After the initial big splash the Jets made in free agency with the Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist deals, and the Brandon Marshall trade, they have quietly done a nice job adding a bunch of decent players, with NFL experience, for no money, and throwing them into the competition hopper.

RB Stevan Ridley is an NFL starting quality tailback. I know there have been ball-security issues at times, but if he has that under control, the man can play.

LB Erin Henderson isn’t just camp fodder. He has starting ability. Same with LB Jabari Lattimore.

Corey Hilliard is a starting quality right tackle.

Stephen Bowen and Kevin Vickerson are starting quality 3-4 defensive ends.

TE Kellen Davis is an intriguing size-speed tight end (6-7, 265 – 4.6 speed) who has bounced around, but certainly has ability.

And none of these moves were expensive.

But here is why these moves might be more impactful than year’s past in Jetsville – I truly believe that legitimate competition has finally arrived in Florham Park after a respite.

There was a lot of window-dressing on the competition front in recent years.

I don’t think Todd Bowles is a window-dressing kind of guy, and while he isn’t the GM, he will decide who plays.

And he’s not one of these guy who governs by public opinion polls. He is a Bruce Arians/Bill Parcells-disciple. Those guys don’t make move to appease the public or media.

So these low-salaried, second-wave free agent additions are coming to the right place.

They will have a legitimate chance to play.

Not only is Bowles not a window-dressing competition guy, but he’s not really married to many players right now, so to speak.

Obviously Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall and David Harris are going to start, but so many other spots are up-for-grabs.

I wrote recently how Lattimore could challenge Davis for a starting inside linebackers spot. I feel the same way about Henderson.

I also feel Hilliard can challenge Breno Giacomini.

I just think what the Jets are going is smart business – take advantage of the lousy CBA – load up on solid veterans, hungry for work, pay them little, and let them compete.

While the Jets first wave in free agency got most of the attention, I think their second wave has been pretty darn good.

April 8, 2015

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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