Happy Super Bowl Sunday. A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Let's make a deal: Everybody knows about the Jets' favorable salary-cap situation (approximately $94 million), but they also have a handful of potential trade assets that could come in handy, especially if they explore a trade for disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown. These assets could become important, considering the Jets have no second-round draft pick.
Once the Super Bowl is over, the NFL's hot-stove league will crank up a few notches. Let's take an early look at players who could emerge in trade discussions:
Robby Anderson, wide receiver: He will be a restricted free agent (figure he gets the second-round tender for about $3 million), but that doesn't mean he can't be traded. The Jets pulled off an RFA trade in 2013, when they acquired running back Chris Ivory for a fourth-rounder. Anderson has talent -- the Philadelphia Eagles were interested before the trading deadline -- but he could be expendable, especially if the Jets land Brown.
Jordan Jenkins, linebacker: He's coming off a career-high seven sacks, but he's a tweener and could be the odd man out if the Jets switch to a 4-3 scheme, as expected. Jenkins is a solid player entering the final year of his rookie contract, so he could have value for a 3-4 team (the Steelers?). If the Jets don't trade him, they will lose him for nothing next year.
Leonard Williams, defensive tackle: His salary balloons to $14.2 million in his fifth-year option, which could prompt the Jets to shop him. Williams has underachieved thus far, but he could do some damage in Gregg Williams' attacking defense. This is a tough call. It'll be hard to move that $14.2 million salary, which means an interested team might want an extension to reduce the cap hit.
Darron Lee, linebacker: His value took a hit because of a four-game substance-abuse suspension at the end of the season, but he did make strides last season. He'll also be a better fit in the Williams defense than he was in the Todd Bowles 3-4. The downside: He's entering the final year of his rookie deal and the organization isn't sure if it wants to make a long-term commitment.
2. Early friction? The Adam Gase-Gregg Williams relationship will be scrutinized because of their strong personalities and different backgrounds, which makes this noteworthy: Williams recently was frustrated with Gase (and general manager Mike Maccagnan) because they balked at the idea of adding his son, Blake, to the coaching staff, according to a person familiar with the situation. They apparently came around, because Blake is expected to join the staff as a defensive coach, although the team hasn't announced the hiring of any position coaches.
Blake Williams, 34, spent the past two seasons as the Cleveland Browns' linebackers coach, working under his father. After the 2017 season, Gregg called him "the best young coach I've ever had on my staff." Naturally, he wants his son on the Jets' staff, but there was initial resistance and it led to some tense moments. Blake has a reputation for rubbing people the wrong way. As a St. Louis Rams assistant, he upset people in the organization by screaming at a draft prospect in a scouting-combine interview, a source said. He also was reprimanded multiple times for sitting in the wrong seat on the team bus; he kept sitting in a seat reserved for a senior member of the staff. The Rams fired him after the 2013 season.
This should be interesting.
3. Helping and hurting: I know Jamal Adams means well when he goes on radio shows and yaps about how the Jets should sign this guy and that guy, but I wish he'd consider this question: How would he feel, on the back side of his career, if a new, hotshot teammate starts campaigning for the team to sign a stud safety in free agency? I'm guessing he probably wouldn't like it. I know for a fact his end-of-season rant ("We need more dogs") ruffled some feathers in the locker room. It also puts a lot of pressure on the front office, which might be by design, and it could hurt the Jets' leverage.
"I'm like LeBron," Adams likes to say. "I want to play with everybody."
Thing is, this is the NFL, not the NBA. Player recruiting doesn't matter as much in NFL free agency because, without max contracts, the top players will take the best offer. Yes, Adams can raise the Jets' profile by playing fantasy-football GM, but he can't convince, say, Le'Veon Bell to sign if his bosses offer less money than another team.
4. Not Hunt-ing season: If the Jets don't sign Bell, it will fuel Kareem Hunt speculation. I can tell you this: A high-ranking Jets official told me in December, after Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs, that they had no interest in the talented running back because of his off-the-field issues. So there you go.
5. The bleepin' coach: I love this anecdote from former Jets and Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who spent three seasons with Gase in Denver. Recalling what Gase was like in offensive meetings, Decker said the former offensive coordinator had a tendency to spew expletives.
"He's going to kill me for this," Decker said in a phone interview, "but one time I counted how many swear words he said in one meeting and it was like off the charts, like 60 or something."
Around the Jets, who haven't been to a Super Bowl in a half-century, the word "curse" has a different meaning.
Decker respects Gase as a coach and says he believes he has a "great opportunity" in New York because of Sam Darnold, but he admitted his former coach's introductory news conference had him in stitches.
"I guess I had a good laugh about it," Decker said. "I was trying to call him, but, yeah, I had a little chuckle. Adam is intense. It came off that he looked a little wild, but he handles the press conference just fine, for the most part. But everything gets a headline nowadays."
And a meme.
6. Super auditions: Several pending free agents will be playing in Super Bowl LIII, some of whom might interest the Jets. The player to watch is Los Angeles Rams defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. Maccagnan has an affinity for Fowler and tried to deal for him at the trading deadline. Fowler, 24, has talent, but he hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling. Nevertheless, some team will overpay him as an elite pass-rusher -- and that team could be the Jets.
Other noteworthy free agents from the Rams: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, guard Rodger Saffold, running back C.J. Anderson and safety LaMarcus Joyner. From the New England Patriots: defensive end Trey Flowers, left tackle Trent Brown, wide receiver Chris Hogan and cornerback Jason McCourty. Flowers and Brown will generate the most interest because they're only 25. The Jets flirted with Suh last offseason before rescinding their offer. Gase is familiar with Suh, having coached him two years in Miami, but they were only moderately productive seasons.
7. Dead tree: Coaching trees are a hot topic these days, especially with the success of Sean McVay and his impact on the current hiring cycle. That got me thinking: When was the last time a member of the Jets' coaching staff went directly to a head-coaching job? You have to go all the way back to 1989, when defensive coordinator Bud Carson was hired by the Browns. (Rex Ryan and Eric Mangini landed head-coaching jobs, but they were fired by the Jets.) A 30-year drought is insane, and it speaks to the organization's inability to find and develop coaches.
In fairness, it should be noted several former Jets assistants became head coaches, namely Mangini, Bowles, Mike Pettine, Anthony Lynn, Dan Quinn, Doug Marrone, Todd Haley, Ken Whisenhunt and Pete Carroll. But they hit other stops before ascending to the big chair except for Carroll, who was promoted by the Jets and promptly fired after one season.
8. Sanchez advises 'Brady': Did you happen to catch the Mark Sanchez spoof video tweeted out by Goat Farm Media? It's terrific. The premise is based on Tom Brady's win in the AFC Championship Game, his fourth road playoff victory -- tied with Sanchez for third among quarterbacks. In the video, "Brady" visits Sanchez, the "Road Playoff Win Guru," to find out his secret.
Some background: Sanchez hatched the idea and brought it to Scotty McKnight, a close friend and former Jets draft pick. McKnight works for Goat Farm Media, and they collaborated with Athletes First -- the agency that reps Sanchez -- to produce it in a couple of days. Brady is played by former Michigan and UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight and the other character is played by former San Diego State wide receiver Tim Vizzi, who works out with Sanchez.
One thing you have to admire about Sanchez is his self-deprecating sense of humor, highlighted by a reference to the Butt Fumble. It wouldn't surprise me if the former Jets quarterback gets into acting some day.