Jets SS Rhodes in Line For New Deal; Clarke to Start at LG


Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, on the verge of perennial All-Pro status, has visibly outplayed his rookie deal. He has two years left at the minimum salary, and it makes sense to lock him up with a long-term deal before his asking price hits the roof, but that could be a “sticky” situation. The Jets are telling upset LG Pete Kendall they won’t re-do his current contract because it has more than one year remaining. If they turn around and give Rhodes a new extension, it will open some eyes in the locker room.

Rhodes Situation: This disruptive, (5 sacks) strong hitting (3 forced fumbles and 2nd leading tackler), ball hawk (4 Int’s and 13 PD’s) out of Louisville is the Jets second best defensive playmaker next to All-Pro LB Jonathan Vilma. At 6-foot 3, 210 pounds, Rhodes was a late, fourth pick in ’05, stepping in right away, starting at Strong Safety. He recorded 106 tackles in his rookie year and continued to progress last season. I would be surprised if he does not make the Pro-Bowl this year because he does so much for the Jets defense and they count/rely on him for plays every Sunday. His playmaking ability was apparent in Week 3, when he piled up 10 tackles to along with two sacks and two forced fumbles in a victory on the road against division rival Buffalo. Rhodes will not complain about a contract extension this year or maybe not during the off-season, but New York would be smart to sign him the long-term contract he deserves. He has earned a new deal and he’s the leader of the secondary, as he will show Rookie CB Darrelle Revis the ropes, when he signs and comes to camp. For now, Rhodes will put up another monster year, racking up sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, and his tackle numbers, and the Jets will be watching, contemplating if they should sign him after ’07 or wait a year longer. I say they should secure him as soon as they can and maybe even sign before the regular season starts – Rhodes is worth the big money and is making a name for himself as top safety in the NFL.

Clarke/Kendall Situation: Former Ohio State Buckeye mammoth Adrien Clarke is taking over the first team reps instead of Kendall, at the Left Guard position. Clarke, the 6-foot 5, 330 pound beast was drafted in the 7th round by Philly in 2004, and the N.Y. Jets expect him to be their starting LG replacing Kendall – who the team is planning to be without after they cut him. When will they (finally) cut him? – It’s good that you asked that: That is the question and my colleague and Editor and Writer Blake “I forgot what I just said” Kelley would absolutely desire to inform you – the “listeners” – with the answer, if you (Jets’ Fans and all NFL Fans) tune into this upcoming week’s fourth episode of the much-aligned, highly anticipated, attention-grabbing phenomenon, hit show “Gridiron Tailgating.” It will be another “jam-packed” edition that will feature the best coverage of the NFL. We will be sure to “make” your day complete, as we’ll discuss many topics, give you laughs, and surely hand out the insight and football news you desperately want to hear and would love to receive. Blake will tell you what will happen with Kendall and lay out all the groundwork on the situation and when he will be released.

Outcome: I see Clarke, who has the size and strength to replace Kendall, the new starting LG for New York in ’07. The Jets are not going to give in to Kendall’s contract requests and nothing will change for Coach Mangini and Co. The front office is standing pat and they will take a high-risk, high-reward approach in letting Clarke take over the duties in the “trenches” next to young stars Nick Mangold (Center and teammate at OSU) and OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson on the left side of the line. Letting Clarke have the job and not bringing a veteran in to challenge and compete with him may not be the best option. Sure Clarke can “man” the guard position, but the Jets are letting (assumingly) go of a Pro-Bowl caliber lineman in Kendall. They will lose some veteran leadership and production could falter – because Clarke is not the most nimble or quickest guard and might not be able to go out and pull on counters, sweeps, and outside run plays like Kendall does. The key to the controversy is that the Jets are not going to budge and “blink” first and their management and coaching staff wants to a prove a point by setting things straight – laying down the law, so to say (guidelines for any players asking for raises.) When Kendall gets dropped I think the team will move on and take it as it is. There will be no upset players on how the situation was handled and they will side with Coach Mangini and the front office, dealing with it as professionals like they should. The organization is going to make an example out of Kendall and Mangini (running a “tight” ship) is calling all the shots and so far it is working out well. To let go of Kendall is right but the Jets better hope Clarke can fill in adequately, as the run game and pass protection might suffer/decline. The line should continue to excel in the area of making holes for the RB, but the biggest question is the blocking for fragile QB Chad Pennington. The left side of the line will help out Clarke if he is a weakness and Ferguson and Mangold will be there to anchor the unit.

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