The first big wave of free agent signings ended long ago, but the New York Jets’ needs were not yet filled. Earlier this week, they got back to it, inking WR Jacoby Ford and CB Dimitri Patterson to new deals.
Ford, age 26 and 5-foot-9 tall, joins Eric Decker as the second free agent wide receiver the team has signed this offseason. Ford spent his first four years in the league with the Oakland Raiders, where he had a standout rookie season. In addition to gaining 470 receiving yards and two touchdowns, he also scored two rushing touchdowns that year, including an end-around he took for 71 yards to the house. But Ford’s best performances came returning kicks. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie year, racking up 1,280 return yards. (Putting it plainly, Ford is fast – he was also a sprinter at Clemson who once ran the 100 meters in 10.01 seconds.)
His numbers have not been as impressive of late: He missed the 2012 season due to a foot injury, and his 2011 and 2013 stats in all categories dropped off from his rookie totals. However, the Jets had to have seen something in him that was worth a contract. The signing of a multipurpose weapon like Ford makes it that much harder for young wideouts like Clyde Gates to make the 2014 roster – not to mention Stephen Hill.
Terms of Ford’s deal were not disclosed.
Meanwhile, the Jets had also been going after a new cornerback after choosing not to re-sign Antonio Cromartie. The list shrunk as Alterraun Verner, Captain Munnerlyn, Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed elsewhere, and Antonio Cromartie joined the Cardinals. But former Dolphin Dimitri Patterson may help solve the cornerback conundrum – if he doesn’t confuse it further.
Patterson played the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, but this will be the tenth season and seventh team of Patterson’s career. His up-and-down 2013 was symbolic of his career. He made four interceptions last year but played in only six games, missing many games in between because of a groin injury. In fact, Patterson is more injury-prone than Ford: In his nine-year career, Patterson has played in all 16 games just once, in 2010 with Philadelphia. Several injuries to the ankle, hamstring, quadriceps, hand and back preceded this groin injury.
What gets me is that ESPN’s Rich Cimini has said Patterson is best suited as a nickel cornerback. The Jets currently already have a good nickel in Kyle Wilson. Would the team consider moving Wilson up to CB2, or Patterson? Or is Darrin Walls still the projected starter? The Patterson signing only muddles this cornerback situation. We’ll have to see where it goes come training camp.
Patterson’s contract is for one year and $3 million. Former Chargers guard Rich Ohrnberger also visited the Jets with Patterson and Ford this week, but no contract has been signed.
News and Notes: When the Jets signed Eric Decker, he said he and TE Jeff Cumberland were “going to kind of negotiate what we are going to do with” jersey number 87. It turns out negotiations went smoothly, and Decker is going to pay Cumberland $25,000 and a steak dinner in return for the number. Cumberland must be skilled at the negotiating table. He only wore #87 last year, having previously worn #86 for the first three years of his career, so the number clearly meant more Decker, who has worn #87 for his entire four-year career. Cumberland will switch to #85.
~This won’t be the most intriguing jersey number story concerning the Jets. Michael Vick has worn #7 his entire career, but has already said that he will not ask Geno Smith to give it up. So what will he choose? I thought he could try #17, but that is currently occupied by WR Greg Salas. It’s safe to say that if he isn’t asking Geno to switch numbers, he won’t ask anyone else to switch either. Whatever he picks, it’s probably best for Vick to stay away from #6 – Mark Sanchez’s old, now-vacated number.
~Oh yeah, and DeSean Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins. Jets fans, are you happy that the Jets did not decide to pursue Jackson, or would you have liked him on the team? Let me know in the comments below!