If there was any doubt in your mind that the New York Jets would look like a totally different team in 2009, it might be best to free yourself of those thoughts now. It’s being reported that the Jets have released veteran WR Laveranues Coles after failing to come to an agreement for a new contract.
While the decision to move on without him can’t be disputed, the salary cap implications are a cause for confusion.
The Jets guaranteed the final two years on Coles’ contract before the 2008 season. It was an unprecedented move, but it spoke volumes of the respect they had for the former team captain.
However, Jason at NYJetsCap.com makes the reasonable assumption that Coles will agree “to waive his salary for his release.” It’s illogical for Mike Tannenbaum to allow Coles to leave the team with such a significant amount of guaranteed money.
While Coles has stated that the split with the Jets was amicable and the door is open for him to return to the team, no one should actually hold their breath.
The decision to release him may appear like a contract issue on the surface, but it was clear that Coles’ skills would be a hindrance to re-shaping the Jets’ offense in 2009.
Making Peace With the Decision
Unfortunately for Coles, his latest contract disagreement comes on the heels of two-consecutive seasons without breaking the 1,000-yard threshold.
Assumptions regarding Coles’ health had become a hot topic over the last two years. Concussions seemed to be getting the best of him as he was the recipient of hard hits in the middle of the field.
Other nagging injuries in his calf, hamstring, and ankle also raised concerns about his longevity in the NFL.
But despite the physical concerns, Coles was no longer the ideal receiver for the Jets’ offense.
Playing on the wrong side of 30, his role had been limited to that of a possession receiver, perfect for quick, timing-routes. While Coles is still a warrior on the field, it appeared as if his body was no longer cooperating with his spirit.
Critical drops in crucial moments made fans question his hands. His inability to gain separation was also troublesome.
Ultimately, he was no longer a sufficient complement to Jerricho Cotchery, nor an adequate primary receiver.
Free Agency and Draft Implications
Everything the Jets have done in recent weeks has been for the salary cap. Money is needed to make moves, and the Jets definitely want to make moves.
What the Jets do in the Draft depends on what they do in free agency. With new holes blown open days before the free agent signing period begins, it’s important to identify where the Jets priorities rest this Friday.
While Ray Lewis and Bart Scott were initially linked to the Jets, recent reports indicate that the price tags may be too high, or the competition may be too stiff. While both players remain at the top of the wish list, there has to be a contingency plan if they can’t secure either of their services.
That plan now revolves around replacing Coles.
If Scott or Lewis are signed, the Jets could look for a WR in the Draft. Some mock drafts have Percy Harvin being on the board when the Jets pick at 17.
If Scott or Lewis aren’t signed, the pickings are slim at the wide receiver position. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is expected to hit the market, but smart money is on the Philadelphia Eagles acquiring him.
A number of solid veterans have been released in recent weeks, including Marvin Harrison.
If the Jets went out and acquired Brett Favre in 2008, seeing Harrison in a Jets’ jersey is right in line with the tradition of getting players in the back-end of their careers.
The most unlikely scenario: the Jets are satisfied with who is already on the roster, and let the battle begin between Chansi Stuckey, Jerricho Cotchery, and Brad Smith.
David Clowney’s contract should be an immediate priority.