With rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle sidelined for the 2014 season with an ACL tear and Dee Milliner in possible doubt for the season opener, John Idzik has found himself under intense scrutiny for his handling of the free agent market this offseason. After going after but not coming away with the likes of Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Jets settled for Dimitri Patterson on a one-year deal and all but entrusted Dee Milliner to be ready to step up as the team’s top corner.
The Jets went into the offseason with and still retained one of the highest figures of cap space in the league. Skeptics questioned the team’s reluctance to splash the necessary cash to get the proven top corner Rex Ryan covets, but Idzik’s mantra thus far has been prioritizing the draft and maximizing value in free agency with a reluctance to overspend in order to fill needs. With injuries threatening to damage an already delicate corner situation, this circumstance proves to be one of the biggest tests of Idzik’s rigid, hardline stance on player valuation yet. Idzik, however, is not concerned.
“I don’t think it’s a level of concern,” stated Idzik. “At the position, we were comfortable with the depth going in. We brought 10 corners into camp and we’ve got some flexibility, as you saw today. We’ve got guys that we feel have position (flexibility) to them. We feel comfortable going in and we’re going to let this thing kind of play out this summer and see how it goes. So, I guess the silver lining is we’ve got enough time in camp to do that..”
Idzik went on to mention Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster, and Kyle Wilson in particular as potential beneficiaries of the current corner situation. One unexpected name, and a player Idzik clearly was alluding to in his mentioning of positional flexibility, was safety Antonio Allen. Allen was moved to corner on Monday and had heads turning with two interceptions on his first day.
Idzik downplayed the transition, however:
“We have the luxury of quantity of practices and reps right now,” noted the Jets’ GM “Antonio, in particular, he’s a long, physical, aggressive athlete and he’s already shown us he can do multiple things, so why not use this time to see what Antonio can do as well as the others. That’s all that’s about. We’ll go through a lot of different permutations with our players this summer and Antonio moving outside is just another example of that.”
The Jets have announced this week that Allen will start at corner for Saturday’s game. It will be a major test for Allen, but a chance for him to further cement his value to the Jets’ secondary. And for John Idzik, a chance to prove his resourcefulness.