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Thomas Jones Released by NY Jets

New York Jet running back Thomas Jones was released by the organization Monday, multiple outlets report.

As the free agency period gets ready to begin on Friday, Mike Tannenbaum, general manager for the Jets, said that he informed Jones of the team’s decision and the reasons for it.

“Thomas joined us three years ago and has been a productive, passionate leader both on and off the field who has served as a positive influence for our younger players,” Tannenbaum remarked on NJ.com. “We were fortunate to acquire Thomas and wish him the best.”

This upcoming season, Thomas was to make $2.8 million, and additionally, was owed a roaster bonus of $3 million.  After failed attempts to come to terms on a new deal in which the organization wanted to pay less money, Thomas’ tenure with the Jets has come to a close.  Other teams like Cleveland or Minnesota would be willing to pay Jones his salary.

Jones tried to negotiate a new deal last off-season as well, as the running back made only $900,000 in base salary for the 2009-10 season.  He rushed for a career-high 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Jets.  New York led the entire league in rush-yards per game.  He was a cornerstone piece which spearheaded the Jets all the way to the AFC Championship game.  A cornerstone piece that will be very hard to replace.

The news of Jones release does not sit well with his teammates.  Two separate occasions, he was elected as the “team’s most inspirational player” ESPN.com reports.

“When I got here, Thomas immediately became one of my guys,” Jet head coach Ryan remarked of Jones. “He had one of his best years last season, might have been his best. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and a person. This is one of the tough decisions we had to make for our organization.”

With the break-up of the two parties, the Jets will rely on Shonn Greene, who was a rookie last year out of Iowa.  Greene saw significant playing time towards the end of the season and on into the playoffs.  But will he be able to pick up where Thomas Jones left off?

While at 32, Jones has continued to produce since being acquired from the Chicago Bears.  Two seasons ago, Jones led the AFC in rushing, and this past season he finished third.  At his age, many feel that at his position of running back players begin to break down.  This is a stereotype that Jones wants no part of.

“Whoever came up with that rule obviously didn’t play running back in this league, didn’t prepare like I prepare, didn’t watch film like I watch film, didn’t take care of their body like I take care of my body,” Jones remarked during last season. “Physically, I feel like a rookie” he told ESPN.com.

Jones is renowned for his workout routine and work ethic, keeping himself in the best shape that he can.  Until his fifth season in the league, Jones never had more than 140 carries.  To put that in perspective, he had over 330 this season.

Jones and Peppers the right fit for Philadelphia?

When the new league year kicks off at midnight on Friday, Andy Reid and company better be at the airport ready to meet Julius Peppers and Thomas Jones to town for visits. Both will be unrestricted free agents as Peppers is finished his deal and Jones is expected to be waived by the Jets.

The Eagles should target Julius Peppers in free agency on Friday.

Peppers would fill a huge need along the defensive line as the five-time Pro Bowler has 81 career sacks. Opposite Trent Cole, the Eagles pass rush would be one of the most formidable in the NFL, allowing Asante Samuel to gamble even more and potentially up his interception total. The Birds defense has always been predicated upon the pass rush, and that did not change under Sean McDermott.

In addition, a big-time pass rush could help with pressure from the blitz, and even help offer more help to a linebacker corps that is overly deficient at covering a tight end.

Jones, meanwhile, would be the perfect compliment to LeSean McCoy. All Jones did last year was rush for 1400 yards and 14 scores. However, the Jets don’t want to pay his $3 million roster bonus on March 9, and a $2.8 million salary even in an uncapped year. With the emergence of Shonn Greene down the stretch and in the playoffs, and the expected return of Leon Washington, Jones is expendable.

With McCoy entering only his second year, and his first training camp No. 1 on the depth chart, along with the release of Brian Westbrook, the team needs a veteran who still has a little something in the tank. Jones easily fills that need.

Not Your Father’s Jets

The past few days I have been thinking about the Jets season, as improbable as it may have been to some.  I have been thinking about Mark Sanchez as a rookie QB leading the team.  Darelle Revis coming into his own as CB, being the shadow of many great Wide Receivers and shutting them down.  Three great running backs in Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Leon Washington when healthy.  All three of these guys are capable of 100 yard games when they step out onto the field.  Nick Mangold and the offensive line have given Sanchez time to throw and opened holes for the running game.  The Defense, ranked Number One in the NFL, has been a stand out all year thanks to Rex Ryan.  Braylon Edwards is due for a breakout year.  The Jets have the right pieces and the puzzle finally came together at the end of the season.  I am only 35 and I saw a different Jets team than I ever have.  This is no longer my father’s Jets.  They are no longer the team that plays second fiddle to the Giants in the New York market.  The Jets have finally got their due and respect.

I have sat in the stand and even at home listened to my father say “same old Jets” everytime a game or play would not go their way.  When the Jets would fall behind or not even make the playoffs every Jets fan was used to that.  For so long we put up with losing seasons, injured players, bad coaching, etc.  Yes, bad coaching.  From Bruce Coslet, Joe Walton, Rich Kotite, Lou Holtz, former USC and now Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, Mangini, Charley Winner, and hell, even Lou Holtz!  Bill Parcells, Al Groh, and Rex Ryan are the only coaches in New York Jets and Titans history with winning records.  Even the great Weeb Ewbank had a 71-77-6 records while coaching the Jets.  Rex Ryan has given new life to a team that had to escape its own stigma of losing.

Woody Johnson has spent enough money on this team, including the $12 million on Brett Favre, to create a team worth watching.  It took years to find a QB that was right at the helm.  It took time to get a balanced receiving core & land a potential star in Edwards.  Even Dustin Keller hs shown the Jets can have an outstanding Tight End.  The pieces are coming together and the Jets just need to complete the puzzle.  The draft has been key the pst few years as the young guys are the ones making the team better than it has been.  For the first time I look at the Jets and see a team that doe not resemble the teams I saw when I was growing up.  The teams in 1998 and 1982 that made the AFC Championship though gave the Jets fans hope that their team would not just been seen differently, but play differently from now on.  They didn’t after those seasons.  I think this might be the first year the team we saw play the Colts will be the same team that starts the 2010 season.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am finally looking forward to a Jets season where we all know they can win and have a true shot at making the Super Bowl.  This past year though has been tough because of the documentary.  As a Jets fan I was hoping they would beat the Colts.  My heart was pojnding during the game hoping they would maintain the lead and win the game.  Asa filmmaker, I was looking for the Jets to sputter and show Jets fans they were the same old JEts.  Even though they lost the game they are not the same old Jets and proved me wrong.  I can not wai to see what the Jets do in the off season and hope Kerry Rhodes is ready for the 2010 season.  I think everyone is finally proud to be a Jets fan.  I know my father is happy, smiling, and watching everything from the best seat in the house.  Maybe screaming at the TV in heaven when Sanchez throws an interception.  That is my dad.