Next Jets GM will inherit myriad problems

Woody Johnson meets with the media in the

Woody Johnson meets with the media in the Jets' end-of-season press conference. (Jan. 9, 2013) (Credit: David Pokress)

The plan seems to have changed.

With each passing day, it seems a new name is added to the Jets' wish list of general managers. So the question remains: Does Woody Johnson know what he wants?

When names such as Tom Gamble, Dave Caldwell and Marc Ross surfaced in the first wave of interviews, it seemed the Jets' owner was set on hiring a football guy with a strong personnel background. But in recent days, candidates with salary-cap credentials -- similar to former general manager Mike Tannenbaum -- have entered the picture.

The latest addition to the list is Green Bay executive Russ Ball, who, according to ProFootballTalk.com, "quietly" interviewed with Johnson.

As Green Bay's director of football operations, Ball handles player contracts, the salary cap and other football administrative duties. The Jets also plan to interview former Bears GM Jerry Angelo, Steelers director of football and business administration Omar Khan, Seahawks vice president of football administration John Idzik and Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine. Jim Popp, the general manager of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, also has piqued the Jets' interest.

With the help of high-priced headhunting agency Korn / Ferry International, the Jets seek a general manager skilled enough to change the direction of their franchise. Johnson has not detailed the specific traits he's looking for, but he said his ideal candidate will "guide us to the next level of success."

Ideally, he'd select a talent evaluator who also is capable of managing the team's delicate salary-cap situation. According to ESPN, the Jets are $19.4 million over the projected 2013 cap -- the most in the NFL. A source told Newsday last week that former Browns GM Tom Heckert canceled his interview with the Jets because of concerns about the team's monetary situation.

But according to one league source, the Jets' salary-cap woes aren't the biggest issue. The team is expected to cut aging linebacker Bart Scott (which would translate into $7.15 million in cap savings next season), linebacker Calvin Pace ($8.56 million), offensive tackle Jason Smith ($12 million) and safety Eric Smith ($3 million), according to ESPNNewYork.com. That totals $30.7 million off the cap. By cutting players and signing others to backloaded deals, the Jets could give themselves room to breathe.

A much more important issue is their quarterback situation in 2013 and beyond. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are under contract for next season, but several NFL experts aren't convinced that the Jets can win long-term with either. Tebow, a non-factor in his first year with the Jets, is expected to be traded or released this offseason. But that still leaves Sanchez and his guaranteed $8.25 million in 2013.

The Jets' new general manager also must take the "Rex factor" into consideration. Every first-time general manager wants his own coach, but the parameters of Johnson's search were laid out with Ryan remaining in place. Despite Ryan's heavy involvement in the Jets' roster decisions the past four seasons, Johnson chose to show Tannenbaum the door.

It wouldn't be surprising if Johnson hired a general manager with personnel experience and a cap guy to complement him. But regardless of who is hired as general manager, he must be ready to attack the Jets' myriad issues. Perhaps more importantly, the league source said, he must possess a strong personality to overrule Ryan on personnel decisions.

 

Jet streams

Jets assistant defensive line coach Anthony Weaver will join the Bills' staff, according to a source. He's the ninth coach to depart the staff since the season ended . . . The Jets are eyeing Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to interview for Tony Sparano's old job. Former Ravens OC Cam Cameron has been reported as the favorite. According to reports, former Eagles OC Marty Mornhinweg and Bengals assistant Hue Jackson also are on the Jets' list.

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