New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder is staying away from offseason workouts as he and the team attempt to renegotiate his contract.
The Jets are among the league leaders in salary-cap space (about $27 million), but they're trying to get Crowder to take a pay cut. Crowder, who led the team in receptions in 2020 and 2021, is due to make $10 million in base pay in the final year of his contract. The salary is not guaranteed, which means the Jets can cut him at any time.
The Jets drafted Crowder's eventual replacement with the 34th overall pick, former Ole Miss slot receiver Elijah Moore, but they still want Crowder on the team -- at their price. His current cap charge is $11.4 million, third highest on the team.
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Coach Robert Saleh said the two sides are "working through some stuff with his contract," but he painted an optimistic picture. He said Crowder will "absolutely" be on the roster.
"[We're] really confident to get Jamison here quickly," Saleh said. "When we do, he definitely has a role on this team."
Crowder, who turns 28 on June 17, was the Jets' most consistent player on offense the past two seasons. In 2020, he recorded 59 catches for 699 yards and six touchdowns -- all team highs. He missed four games due to leg injuries. He was better in 2019, with 78 catches, 833 yards and six touchdowns.
The Jets still finished 32nd in total yards both years.
They revamped the receiving corps this offseason, signing Corey Davis (three years, $37.5 million) and Keelan Cole (one year, $5 million) and drafting Moore. The rookie has impressed in early practices.
Still, Crowder is their most accomplished receiver, and his absence is costing him an opportunity to develop chemistry with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the presumptive starter. Another key player on offense, left tackle Mekhi Becton, is sitting out with a foot injury. He's suffering from plantar fasciitis, the NFL Network reported. Becton, their No. 1 pick in 2020, won't require surgery, according to Saleh, who said "it's really not a big deal."
Becton, who injured the foot 11 days ago in the first practice, made an appearance on the practice field Friday, but didn't participate in any drills. The issue with Becton, listed at 6-foot-7, 363 pounds, is his weight. Saleh hinted that Becton needs to improve his conditioning. He was overweight by the end of last season, a team source said.
"Their body is their moneymaker," Saleh said. "The amount of investment you put into your body is the amount you get back. That's part of the learning progression of young men.
"They've got to learn how to take care of their bodies. They've got to learn how to eat right, how to work out right, how to rest right, regenerate right -- all the things that lead to longevity in this league. Mekhi is one of those. He's a talented young man, he's a very large young man, and he's learning every day what it takes to be a professional. We've got a lot of faith in him."
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New York Jets' new vibe: All gas, no brake and behind-the-scenes changes
Quarterback Zach Wilson and running back Michael Carter, both rookies, are some of the many new faces around the New York Jets. Kathy Willens/AP Photo
Jun 3, 2021
ESPN Staff Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After a lost decade that included seven losing seasons, five general manager and head coach tandems, five starting quarterbacks and zero playoff appearances -- the longest active drought in the NFL -- the New York Jets are starting over yet again, except this time there's a fresh vibe at One Jets Drive.
So what's new?
They have a new coaching staff with offensive and defensive systems that have been used by recent Super Bowl teams, instilling confidence in the players. Led by coach Robert Saleh, the staff is youthful and energetic. They also have made changes on an organizational level -- some of them subtle -- which will change the way the Jets do business.
Hey, why not? Business hasn't been good since January 2011, when they reached the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year.
"We have a system that's shown to work," Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley said last week. "Our job as players is to come in every day and make sure we buy into the system, that we buy into the new way of the Jets -- all gas, no brake -- and we bring it to the field when it's ready."
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That's Saleh's mantra -- All gas, no brake -- and it appears throughout the team facility. Every coach has a motto. Rex Ryan had, "Play like a Jet." Todd Bowles had, "One team, one goal." Adam Gase had ... well, he didn't believe in catchphrases. Frankly, they're meaningless unless the team can turn the words into a culture. Ryan came the closest, but his Rex-isms fizzled after a couple of promising seasons.
The early returns on Saleh are encouraging, as the Jets have averaged about 80 players at each voluntary practice. While some teams dialed back their offseason activities, acquiescing to the concerns of players, the Jets are proceeding with their schedule after a "good collaboration on both sides," Saleh said. That says a lot about him and the support from the locker room.
"First day here, he brought the energy," Mosley said. "That's what you want from a head coach."
It's a different player experience, starting with the player-friendly Saleh, the first-round draft pick in quarterback Zach Wilson, and everything from a new-look weight room to a new approach to nutrition.
The Jets, coming off a 2-14 nightmare, tweaked parts of their infrastructure in an attempt to fix old problems and prevent new ones from popping up. Here's a closer look at what's new:
An athletic care and sports performance department. After getting crushed by injuries the past two seasons, general manager Joe Douglas decided to shake things up.
The department, which consolidates the areas of athletic training, strength and conditioning, nutrition and injury rehab, is headed by Dr. Brad DeWeese, the director of high performance. DeWeese, whose background includes training Olympic athletes, is emphasizing speed and power. They made four other hires, including strength and conditioning coach Mike Nicolini, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Jets dove into the area of sports science, creating a custom menu for each player that covers weight training, recovery and a meal plan. With regard to injuries, there were a few well-documented cases in recent years in which players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Kelechi Osemele and Quincy Enunwa complained publicly about their care. The hope is having everything under one umbrella will streamline the communication and eliminate snafus.
Jets coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas are focused on keeping their Jets players nutritionally healthy as well as off the injured reserve list. Kathy Willens/AP Photo
"We feel like, at least from a physical standpoint, when they walk into this building, there's 100% attention on each individual," Saleh said.
In 2019, the Jets had a league-high 28 players on injured reserve, per Spotrac. It was more of the same in 2020 -- 36 cases on injured reserve, tied for fifth.
A chief of staff. Yes, that's an actual title in the team directory and it belongs to Steve Scarnecchia, who was hired as Saleh's right-hand man.
Scarnecchia, the son of former New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, will lessen the load for Saleh by handling administrative jobs such as meeting and practice schedules. He could be an invaluable resource for Saleh, a first-time head coach on any level. Scarnecchia held a similar position the past six years with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Jets also hired game-management specialist Matt Burke, an Ivy League-educated former NFL assistant who becomes their version of Ernie Adams. Ernie Adams? He was the longtime confidant and football savant under Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who relied on Adams during games.
This isn't a new role for the Jets -- Matt Sheldon had the job under Gase -- but they're treating it differently. Gase never wanted to publicize Sheldon; Saleh was transparent, explaining the different ways in which Burke can help.
Burke, who works closely with the analytics department, meets with Saleh to discuss possible in-game situations. Saleh tells him what he'd do; Burke responds by sharing the "book" choice, based on recent data. This allows them to formulate a plan.
During the season, Burke will meet with the coaching staff to analyze specific scenarios, allowing the coaches to work them into the practice script. On game day, Burke will be in the booth, communicating with Saleh as game- and clock-management issues develop.
"He's a tremendous asset," Saleh said of Burke, 45, who had a similar job with the Tennessee Titans several years ago.
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