A few thoughts and observations as the New York Jets prepare for the second day of free agency:
1. Room for the Honey Badger? Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was among the big names released Wednesday, fueling speculation of a possible reunion with his former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator and current Jets head coach Todd Bowles. From what I understand, that is unlikely to happen.
Three reasons: the money (he will command a hefty price), potential role (what is he?) and wear and tear on his body. Even though he played an entire season in 2017 (the most defensive snaps in the NFL), Mathieu has suffered major knee and shoulder injuries in his career.
Mathieu, 25, is listed as a safety, but he's really a hybrid. In 2017, he played in the slot on 66 percent of the snaps and only 17 percent as a free safety, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He's at his best when he can line up in different places, but the Jets already have a player like that: Jamal Adams, who lobbied on social media for the team to sign him. They both played at LSU, albeit at different times.
Bowles coached Mathieu and also knows him on a personal level (his stepdaughter has a child with Mathieu), but the stars aren't aligned for this to happen. The Jets just doled out a $34 million guarantee for cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and they're still looking to sign another starting corner. It would be wise to spend the money on other position groups.
2. Speaking of former LSU DBs ... : The Jets are still hoping to re-sign Morris Claiborne as their CB2, but they're getting strong competition from at least one other team. It wouldn't be a shock if they lose him.
3. Say goodbye: The Jets suffered three free-agent defections on Day 1: linebackers Demario Davis (New Orleans Saints) and Julian Stanford (Buffalo Bills) and kicker Chandler Catanzaro (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Catanzaro was a pleasant surprise last season, but he received a three-year, $9.75 million deal that includes a $3.75 million guarantee. At those numbers, you can't blame the Jets for letting him walk. The Bucs, desperate for a kicker, overpaid.
The Jets made an offer to Davis, but it wasn't anything close to his three-year, $24 million deal, which includes an $18 million guarantee, according to his agency. The Jets replaced him with a similar player, Avery Williamson, and similar contract: three years, $22.5 million, $16 million guarantee. And he's three years younger than Davis.
4. The one that got away: The Jets thought they had found their Muhammad Wilkerson replacement, DaQuan Jones, but he wound up returning to the Tennessee Titans (three years, $21 million). The Jets had the run-stuffing defensive end on the hook, but he wiggled off.
5. Donut no more: They patched the hole in the middle of the offensive line, finalizing a deal with former Washington Redskins center Spencer Long (four years, money undisclosed). They settled for Long because the price for Weston Richburg exceeded $9 million a year; he got five years, $47.5 million from the San Francisco 49ers. This is an iffy signing by the Jets, in part, because Long has dealt with leg and knee injuries.