A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Politics vs. money: Jets CEO Christopher Johnson's pro-player stance on the national anthem issue has fueled some chatter on whether his position, which has galvanized the Jets' locker room, could actually help the team in free agency. In other words, could free agents consider the Jets more appealing because their CEO broke ranks and sided with the players?
It's an interesting question, one that has been raised in recent days on Twitter and in an insightful piece by Conor Orr of SI.com. I polled four prominent agents and the responses ranged from negligible impact to "slight advantage." A sampling from the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity:
"If two teams are close and the player sees the Jets as a more favorable environment, yes, it could have some effect," one agent said. "I'd say 10 to 15 percent, but the total economic package is always the deciding factor."
Another agent said, "I think it could be a small factor. Of the top 10 reasons, I'd say it's on the bottom half. I wouldn't jump up and down about it -- it doesn't hurt -- but I don't think it's that big a deal."
One agent said he always asks his clients to make a list of non-economic factors when considering a team. In that case, "You could put a checkmark next to Chris Johnson if you're a player," the agent said. But he quickly added, "The only thing that really matters is the green, and I'm not talking about Jets green. The [owner-player unity] won't move the needle. People will say it will, but it won't."
With Johnson saying there will be no repercussions for players who violate the new league policy, the Jets could be perceived as a safe haven for protestors -- a "player-friendly atmosphere," as one agent described it. Personally, I don't think that will matter much, but it wouldn't shock me if it comes up in recruiting conversations between current Jets and free agents. They can try to use it as a selling point.
Want to know the biggest selling point? The Jets have close to $90 million in cap room for 2019. If you pay them, they will come.
2. As the Cro flies: You haven't heard too much about running back Isaiah Crowell since he signed as a free agent, but he will have a prominent role in the offense. The takeaway after listening to coach Todd Bowles is that Crowell will add a much-needed element of toughness to the interior rushing attack.
Bowles described him as a "pound-it back," saying Crowell reminds him of a younger version of Matt Forte -- not as a receiver, but as a runner. The Jets could use some oomph up the middle. In 2017, they ranked 19th in yards per carry between the tackles and 26th in yards after contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
That's one of the reasons why they signed Crowell. They also were thinking of size and power when they signed center Spencer Long, who is 20 pounds heavier than last year's starter, Wesley Johnson. You have to believe the Jets will be stronger and more physical up the middle than last season.
Running the ball is a mentality, and there were stretches last season when they strayed from that approach -- and that didn't sit too well with some players. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates wants to bring back the nasty. In practice, he actually is calling runs during third-down periods, which usually are devoted to passing.
"It's great to know there's an emphasis," left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "We're not just talking about it. We're actually implementing it throughout practice."
3. Remember the double cut? Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of a difficult day at One Jets Drive -- the day popular veterans David Harris and Eric Decker were unceremoniously released. The moves were clumsily handled, and the organization took a lot of well-deserved heat for waiting until the final week of OTAs before cutting Harris, who, unlike Decker, was healthy the entire offseason. The moves also fueled the perception that it was full tank mode for 2017.
But you know what? In retrospect, general manager Mike Maccagnan was on the money from a football standpoint. Harris was on his last legs last season with the New England Patriots, and Decker was a nonfactor for the Tennessee Titans. Harris is now retired, and Decker is looking for a job. Maccagnan knew when to cut bait, a big part of a GM's job.
4. Johnny Football: Maccagnan's name was on the seating list Friday night at Johnny Manziel's preseason debut for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. Relax, folks, the Jets have no interest in Manziel; they're happy with their quarterback situation. Maccagnan wasn't spotted at the game, according to eyewitnesses, but it's not unusual for him to scout in Canada. He likes to scout CFL preseason games because they don't conflict with Jets training camp.
5. Q wants to be a WR: In his breakout 2016 season, Quincy Enunwa was deployed as a hybrid weapon by then-coordinator Chan Gailey. He lined up in the slot (546 snaps), at tight end (105) and at outside receiver (176), per ESPN Stats & Information data. Poised to return after sitting out 2017 with a neck injury, Enunwa no longer sees himself as a utility man.
"I definitely consider myself a receiver," he said. "Doing that stuff was my opportunity to get on the field. I had two great receivers in front of me [Decker and Brandon Marshall], and we had just drafted Devin [Smith], so it was like, 'OK, Q, find your way to get on the field.' Now that I've had my opportunity to be on the field, I've been able to hone my skills as a receiver. As soon as I get my opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it."
As a precaution, Enunwa is sitting out team drills, but he should be ready for training camp.
6. In a tight spot: The six tight ends on the Jets' roster have combined for only 96 career catches, making it one of the most unproven position groups in the league. Yep, the Jets are rebuilding, but they're excited about Jordan Leggett and rookie Chris Herndon, a fourth-round pick. Both players have flashed in OTA practices, but as Bowles likes to say, let's see when the pads go on.
7. A strange trip: Remember Sal Alosi? He was the strength and conditioning coach who was suspended and fined $25,000 by the Jets after he tripped a Miami Dolphins gunner who was racing past the Jets' sideline while covering a punt during a 2010 game. The disgraced coach became a national punchline and resigned under pressure.
Well, Alosi is back on the East Coast, as he was hired this week by UConn as the director of human performance for the men's basketball team. Previously, he worked in a similar position at UCLA.
Say this for Alosi: He hasn't allowed one horrible decision to ruin his career.
8. The last word: "I know people are going to say that. It doesn't surprise me. But it's not like we lost a whole bunch of people. I think we gained people, but that's just how it is, right? Until we go out and prove we can beat these teams ... hey, we have a good schedule this year, so it's a good opportunity to do that." -- Enunwa on the Jets' No. 32 ranking in ESPN's FPI Index.
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