Now that vacation is over, it's time to take a look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Ring the Bell? The Jets have a thing for twice-tagged franchise players who hit the open market. In March, they went 1-for-2 in such pursuits, missing out on quarterback Kirk Cousins but landing cornerback Trumaine Johnson (five years, $72.5 million).
It takes big bucks to shop for those kind of players and, yes, the Jets will be in position to do it again next offseason. With a league-high $88 million in projected cap room, per overthecap.com, they will have the ability to make a run at star running back Le'Veon Bell, who failed to reach a long-term deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers before the July 16 deadline. That puts him in the Cousins/Johnson boat, meaning he almost certainly will become a free agent after playing his second year on the franchise tag. We all know the cost of a third tag is financially prohibitive.
Are the Jets gearing up for Bell? A few thoughts:
They probably will be in the running-back market, as Bilal Powell will be a 30-year-old free agent and Isaiah Crowell is basically on a year-to-year contract. Because he's a dual threat, Bell would be absolutely perfect in Jeremy Bates' West Coast-style offense. He'd be the weapon the Jets so desperately need.
Now let's examine the flip side. Bell will be 27 years old, likely with more than 1,500 carries on his odometer. Mindful of the wear-and-tear factor at the position, general manager Mike Maccagnan has avoided major financial commitments at running back. Bell would fall into the "major" category; he reportedly rejected a $15 million-a-year offer from the Steelers.
I can't see the Jets doling out that much money for a player on the back side of his prime unless everything clicks in 2018 and they deem Bell the proverbial "missing piece" in their championship puzzle. There's also the matter of whether Bell would want to play for the Jets. A few months ago, he famously tweeted that he wouldn't sign with them even for $60 million in cash. Funny. I bet he'd reconsider if they make him the best offer.
Even if a Bell pursuit doesn't materialize, the Jets will be major players in what is shaping up as a blockbuster free-agent class in 2019. A couple of premier pass-rushers, the Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Lawrence and the Detroit Lions' Ziggy Ansah, will play on the franchise tag this season, as they, too, failed to secure long-term deals by the deadline. This was a good week for the Jets' future even though they didn't do anything.
Some perspective, though: Unlike Bell, Lawrence and Ansah are on their first tag, so the odds of them reaching the open market are slim. Smart teams don't let gifted pass-rushers walk away. So, no, you can't expect the Jets to solve their perennial pass-rushing problem with one wave of a magic wand, but they will benefit from an overall team standpoint. Even if some big names are off-limits, there will be a trickle-down effect that will help teams flush with cap space.
2. Deadline for Darnold -- With the clock ticking, the Jets and quarterback Sam Darnold still haven't finalized a contract. Rookies report Tuesday, veterans Thursday and the first practice is Friday. Time to worry? Not yet. Darnold isn't alone, as seven of the top nine draft picks still haven't signed.
You'd think these deals would be easy to negotiate because the amounts are slotted, but the stumbling block is offset language. Teams want the deals to include an offset because it provides some financial protection if the player is released before his four-year contract expires. A deal with no offset allows the player to "double dip" if he signs elsewhere. Teams and agents do this dance every summer and, with rare exceptions, the deals get done on time.
In the end, Darnold will sign for four years, $30.53 million, plus a team option.
3. Waiting on a verdict -- The Jets are waiting to hear from the league on the status of wide receiver Robby Anderson, who was arrested in May 2017 and again in January. They're cautiously optimistic he can avoid a suspension because, now that the legal dust has settled, the only mark on his record is a reckless-driving misdemeanor. It's up to the league to determine if he violated the personal-conduct policy.
4. Deserted island -- A lot has been written and said about Darrelle Revis over the past few days. Now that I'm back from vacation, I'd like to offer my two cents.
He was one of the most complicated athletes I've ever covered. He could be charming, witty and insightful, but I also found him to be moody and thin-skinned, especially toward the end of his time with the Jets. His teammates respected him because of his immense talent and willingness to battle management at the bargaining table, but there were times when he operated like a one-man corporation within a giant corporation. Revis Island, indeed.
Does he belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Many believe he revolutionized bump-and-run coverage with his ability to recognize pass routes and jam receivers at the line -- and he did it in an era that limits contact between corners and receivers. Longtime cornerback and former ESPN analyst Eric Allen once told me he taught Revis' bump-and-run technique to his own son.
Is Revis a first-ballot Hall of Famer? A lot depends on the quality of candidates in a particular year, but based on his credentials, I'd say no, he's not. He was a dominant player for three, maybe four years, not long enough to deserve a first-year Hall pass.
Is he the best defensive player in Jets history? Yes, I'd give him a slight edge over Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau.
Football aside, Revis will be remembered as a business shark, a player who capitalized on his leverage to squeeze every dollar out of management. He made $124 million in his career, per Spotrac. Guided by a strong support group, led by his uncle, former NFL player Sean Gilbert, and his former agents, Jon Feinsod and Neil Schwartz, Revis went to the mattresses with two contract disputes and a nasty divorce from the Jets in 2013. They reunited in 2015, but it was never the same. He switched into cruise control, and the end was hard to watch.
Revis the player always will be respected because of his talent. Revis Inc., not so much.
5. Terrible 2s -- The release of wide receiver Devin Smith (failed physical) provided the latest reminder of the Jets' ignominious history of second-round picks. It's quite stunning, really. Here's a list of second-rounders since 1970 (post-merger) who played 20 or fewer games with the team: