While most of us here in the northeast were seemingly digging our way through the earth's core and back to the surface, GM Mike Tannenbaum spoke with reporters earlier this afternoon at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Tannenbaum chatted about a variety of subjects, ranging from the status of RB Thomas Jones to whether K Jay Feely is still in the teams plans to what the Jets hope to do this offseason to keep WR Braylon Edwards from constantly suffering from a case of the dropsies.
We'll start with Jones first, given his name has been out there the most lately regarding the possibility the Jets may part ways with him if he doesn't re-work the final year on his four-year, $20-million contract. Jones, as you well know by now, is due a $3 million roster bonus by March 9 on top of commanding a $2.8 million base salary in 2010.
The Jets, obviously, are weary of shelling out that much loot to someone who will be 32 by the time the season opener rolls around in September. Sure, Jones is coming off a career season that saw him gobble up 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. But his production dipped considerably over the last month or so despite Rex Ryan giving him and veteran FB Tony Richardson one day off per week near the end of the season with hopes it would keep them both fresh.
So now, with RB Shonn Greene showing the rest of the nation his skills and becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 125 yards and a touchdown in his first two postseason games, and fellow backfield mate Leon Washington doing well in his rehab from a broken right fibula, the Jets hold the cards.
They want Jones to take a pay cut, but apparently both sides are having problems coming to an amicable agreement. Tannenbaum will be meeting with Jones' agent Drew Rosenhaus while both are in Indy.
"Nothing really has been finalized with TJ," Tannenbaum said. "We are getting closer to a decision there, but nothing has been finalized yet."
Then, Tannenbaum sounded as if he was thanking Jones for his time on his way out the door.
"All I can say is we were fortunate we traded for him three years ago," Tannenbaum said. "He has done a lot of great things for us on the field and even more off the field. He’s really been our leader, a tireless worker, he’s a really good player and a better person. We have a few more days to get that finalized."
Apparently, the same thing can be said for Feely. By signing K Nick Folk on Tuesday, the Jets put a bit of a squeeze play on Feely. But Tannenbaum didn't totally discount Feely, who was extremely solid in 2009 and even fared well when he was sprung into emergency punting duties in the Jets' 24-14 wild-card win over the Bengals, returning to the mix.
"We did that because he’s a young kicker who went to the Pro Bowl a few years ago," Tannenbaum said of inking Folk. "It was good business to sign him. What happens with Jay, we’ll see. He’s going to make it to the free agent market and we’ll keep the lines of communication open. He did a great job for us down the stretch, made some really big kicks in the playoffs.
"He was a big reason for our success. I don’t know if he will be back. The opportunity to meet with Nick Folk presented itself and we felt like it was best to handle that situation proactively. But by no means does that mean Jay will not be back."
Of course, we can't get forget about the lightening rod, aka Vernon Gholston. You knew at least one VG question would be hurled Tannenbaum's way.
"He needs to play better, we all know that, he would tell you that if he was standing here," Tannenbaum said. "He did a lot of good things at Ohio State and it was based on a great work ethic. We have to get it out of him on a more consistent basis but it’s a challenge we’re embracing and we’re going to work with Vernon to try to get it out of him."
Tannenbaum was asked specifically what Gholston -- who's yet to record a sack in two seasons and has that mega five-year deal with $21 million guaranteed -- can do during this offseason to make himself better.
"Within our defense working with [defensive coordinator] Mike Pettine everyday and putting him in certain positions where we can let him use his talents and not have to diagnose things as much where he can go and play hard," Tannenbaum said. "As Rex would say, ‘Play like a Jet’ like popping out of your skin. Another year of knowing his responsibilities will give him a chance to hit the ground running.
"But the reasons to be encouraged were those first four games. It was disappointing that did not sustain itself throughout the season. But again it’s important to him, he’s there all the time and those are the reasons to be encouraged."
Lastly, Tannenbaum wants WR Braylon Edwards to spend a lot of time this offseason at the Jets training complex to work with the staff and as much as he possibly can with QB Mark Sanchez. Tannenbaum would like Edwards take things to the next level, and that includes getting over his ball dropping syndrome.
"With Braylon this is going to be a really important off-season for him in terms of being more acclimated with our offense and working with Mark everyday," he said. "Braylon did a lot of great things for us. As Rex mentioned more than once he really helped our running game, he’s a tremendous blocker. How defenses played us after we graded for Braylon changed.
"He has done a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. We are glad he’s here, we will tender him. It’s a really important off-season for him to be with us all the time because I really think it will give him the opportunity to be a better player to be in our program every day."