Before completely moving onto the future, Mike Tannenbaum took a quick minute to flashback, talking about the emotional roller-coaster that came to a halt with Sunday's 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game Sunday.
"I thought this past season was a good one," the Jets general manager said this afternoon on a conference call with the media. "I’m really proud of some of the things we’ve accomplished. Getting to back-to-back AFC championships, obviously, solidifies our program. I think we have a great foundation of sustainable success for the future. I’m really proud of our coaching staff, led by Rex [Ryan], and all his talented assistants.
"Now as we get later into the week, we transition into 2011. ... We always talk about every rock, every day, and it’s when they find people like the Tanner Purdum’s of the world, the Matt Slauson’s -- maybe guys that aren't household names, but those are players that go ahead and help us win both short-term and long-term. That’s the exciting part for us.
"So on one hand, there is the disappointment of not getting all the way to the Super Bowl and obviously, that’s the emotions from earlier in the week. But by the end of this week, we’ve kind of turned the page and tried to move forward for the 2011 season."
And with that, Tannenbaum's focus shifts toward the great unknown. The Jets have a plethora of decisions to make on several players, and one of the pressing, burning hot-button issues he'll face is whether he can sign both free agent wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes -- on top of bringing back versatile playmaker Brad Smith -- to keep Mark Sanchez's receiving targets in place.
"We’d actually like to keep all three with Brad in the mix there as well," Tannenbaum said. "That would certainly be our goal. We want to keep as many good players as possible, and we’ll see what the system looks like and then move forward from there. Both of those players, Braylon and Santonio, did a really good job for us. I think they helped Mark’s development, and both made big plays during the season and in the postseason both had big touchdowns obviously in the Patriots game.
"I'm proud of what both of those guys accomplished for us, and we’ll see what the system looks like moving forward. We hope to keep them all."
Could Plaxico Burress be a fallback option just in case they can't ink Holmes and Edwards? Tannenbaum didn't rule out the possibility of taking a peek at former Giants wideout, who's due to be released from prison this spring.
"If and when a player is reinstated, we should look at that," he said. "I just don't like to deal in hypotheticals for now. We’ve got plenty of other players to look at, decisions to make and we’ll be focused on those."
One thing Tannenbaum won't be focusing in on is the strong comments from cornerback Antonio Cromartie. He took aim at the NFLPA and the league for not getting a new collective bargaining agreement done, and had some pointed words for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on Twitter on Thursday, basically saying he'll punch Hasselbeck's face in after Hasselbeck asked on Twitter if Cromartie even new what CBA stood for.
Tannenbaum praised Cromartie's play and indicated the Jets definitely want to bring him back on board.
"By and large, he had good year for us on the field," Tannenbaum said. " Wasn't perfect, but he played well. I was glad he was a Jet. He did everything we asked of him. I think he’s gotten better. I think he has a great coach in Dennis Thurman every day that works very carefully on his techniques. Obviously, I’m not in a position to comment on what he said, especially when he’s talking to other people, other players on other teams. That’s really not for me to comment on.
"But I would say, based on his body of work and his year with us, he’s a guy we would like to keep. Again, once we get a sense of what the system looks like, we’ll move forward. I’m really proud of what he did on the field this year and I think he bought in, worked hard and helped us win."
More nuggets from Tannenbaum:
If Vernon Gholston's inactive status for the postseason means the underachieving defensive end/linebacker gone: "Vern’s going to be somebody that we are going to look at in the offseason. Not playing toward the end obviously is something we are going to take a long look at, and see if there is a role that makes sense for him. And if there is, obviously we’ll keep him. If not, we’ll move on. That's something we’ll look at over the next couple of weeks and next couple of months."
On if signing linebacker David Harris is still a top priority: "He remains a top priority for us. Dave has done a lot of great things for us on and off the field, and we expect him to be here for years to come."
On if right tackle Damien Woody and fullback Tony Richardson's days with the Jets are done: "Those are two guys that we are going to take a long look at. They’ve both done a great job for us. Both are great leaders in their own right and no decision has been made on either guy and we’ll see how it goes. We wouldn't have had the success we’ve had without those two players."
On if LaDainian Tomlinson will return: "He’s under contract for next season. At the appropriate time, we’ll look at everybody. But as of now, he’s under contract and I expect him back. These things can change, but we do expect him back. He did good things for us. Going back to what Rex said, initially when we brought him in, as a three-down back, he was really good. Obviously he ran the ball well, over 900 yards. But he was also a great compliment to Shonn [Greene], relative to the passing game, pass protecting, and brought a lot of leadership to the team, as well."
On Jason Taylor's status: "Similar situation [with Tomlinson]. We expect him back. Obviously, once we get closer to the season and things like that, other players here, things can always change. But one thing I will say about Jason is he did so many good things from an intangible leadership standpoint. His effect on other players -- Bryan Thomas, Jamaal Westerman -- he’s a pro's pro. We are lucky to have him and I’m really glad he was here and people like LaDainian, Tony Richardson, Jason Taylor, their leadership is really hard to quantify sometimes."
On Sal Alosi's indefinite suspension: "We’ve discussed that. We haven't made a decision yet. We are still discussing it internally and when we’ve made a decision, we'll let everybody know."
On if Brian Schottenheimer is definitely returning: "He is certainly coming back."