By Ernie Palladino
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The Jets may have struck the first blow in their trade for Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall and the re-signing of linebacker David Harris, but the real action of the offseason begins when the free-agent starting gun goes off Tuesday.
Only then will the rebuilding plans of general managers Mike Maccagnan and Jerry Reese really start to come into focus.
One thing should already be clear — Ndamukong Suh, the Lions pass-rushing defensive tackle and the premier defensive player in this year’s class, isn’t coming here. Not to either team. He’s poised to sign a monster $114 million ($60 million guaranteed) deal with the Dolphins.
Even if he wasn’t, the Giants couldn’t have fit him under their approximate $12.7 million of cap space. And the Jets, despite their tens of millions of space, have bigger issues to address beyond bulking up their strongest unit.
It’s just as well that Suh came off the board two days before the 4 p.m. start of the signing period. No sense in harboring unrealistic hopes.
But here are four free agents who might tickle both the local teams’ fancies.
The Detroit running back will be 30, but he still might have enough left in the tank to satisfy both teams. The Jets could use his edge running and catching ability to give them the game-breaking potential that Chris Johnson could not. The Giants could use his style to contrast the banging, between-the-tackle styles of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. The problem there entails whether Bush would be content to fall into a backup/mentor type role.
The Packers might keep their steady 26-year-old right tackle if they can get him to come down a bit from his $7-8 million demands. Or they could just bite the bullet and pay him full freight, as they did when they took wide receiver Randall Cobb off the market Saturday for his stated $10 million price. Though Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Washington are rumored to be interested, he’d look good in either green or blue. The Giants are in the midst of an offensive line shuffle that ideally would turn current right tackle Justin Pugh into a guard. The Jets can use an upgrade after Breno Giacomini gave up 41 pressures and committed eight penalties.
Seattle has expressed strong interest in the Browns’ tight end, but the Giants and Jets could use him, too. Even though the Giants are happy with Larry Donnell, they need a proven second tight end. Cameron, a Pro Bowler in 2013, comes off a year interrupted for five games by a concussion, but he’d still be a good pickup. He’s a downfield threat who averaged 17.7 yards per catch as opposed to Donnell’s 9.9. The Jets have Jeff Cumberland starting while Jace Amaro develops, but he’s too inconsistent and doesn’t block. Still, given Amaro’s potential, they’re not really looking for a long-term starter.
The Jets did a good job re-signing Harris for the inside, but they’re still left with an aging Calvin Pace on the outside. That position could stand an upgrade to a younger pass-rusher, which is where the Falcons’ Weatherspoon comes in. He missed last season after tearing his Achilles tendon, but that hasn’t taken him off the Saints’ and Cardinals’ radar. The Giants should both be interested in him, too, since the continued health questions surrounding MLB Jon Beason could force another shuffling of that unit. Weatherspoon is not a big sack artist, but he does stop the run, as his 115 tackles in 2011 indicates. The Giants were susceptible to the run on the outside.