Okay, everyone, it's time for Part 2 of The Youts. Sorry it's taken me so long to get this up, but working in the French Quarter in NO during Halloween is insane! For those of you who don't know, it's the second biggest holiday party here next to Mardi Gras. Anyway, Part 2 is going to focus on just what earned Tannenbaum his "Trader Mike" nickname, specifically his draft-day trades of the last five years, though other noteable trades related to improving the young core of the team will be mentioned as well. Space permitting, I'd like to explore FA and UDFA signings of the same time period, but that might have to wait for Part 3, the Return of the Youts (or something like that).
2006, Tanny's first draft as Jets GM was relatively uneventful as far as trades. This might explain why they had more picks (10) than in any other draft since. That's not to say he was completely inactive. The blockbuster three-way trade with the Broncos and Falcons involving John Abraham definitely turned some heads. Abraham had already been designated with the franchise tag, so the trade was somewhat unexpected as Tanny was a relative unknown at the time. While I was a huge Abraham fan and was crushed by this move at the time, like so many other front office moves I've questioned in the Tannenbaum era, it seems to have worked out for the best in the long run. Tanny used the #29 pick received from the Falcons to pick arguably the most dominant C in the NFL in Nick Mangold to replace potential future HOF Kevin Mawae (who was released on March 5). This pick, along with D'Brick at #4, ensured a strong O-Line core for years to come. The remainder of the draft was effectively used to infuse young, talented role-players into the Jets roster.
In 2007, Trader Mike let loose with both barrels, earning himself an ongoing reputation as a bigtime mover and shaker on draft day. The Jets, with the 25th overall pick, swapped their 1st, 2nd and 5th Rd picks to the Panthers for the 14th pick and a sixth rounder. This lead to the acquisition of a man who intensely dislikes what Knute Rockne called "the forward pass" - and feels obliged to express his displeasure on many a Sunday afternoon (and occasional Monday evening). Tanny wasn't done yet, next swapping their 2nd (63rd), 3rd, and 6th round picks for the Packers 2nd (47th) and 7th round picks in order to get David Harris. The Hitman has been a top ranked ILB ever since, starting off with a bang in '07, registering 17 and 24 tackles in his first two games (subbing for an injured Jonathan Vilma).
2008 is a year I'm sure I'm not alone in having mixed feelings about. The Jets signed Cardinals' linebacker Calvin Pace to a six year, 42 million dollar contract - a deal I know many Jets fans considered too high. Personally, I think Pace catches a lot more crap than he deserves. He's averaged 62 tackles and just under 7 sacks a season in his three years on the team despite missing four games in '09 and '10 and is putting up similar numbers this season. Then there was "trading Jonathan Vilma for a snack pack" - a trade I didn't at the time and still don't quite understand. I've lived in NO during his tenure with the Saints and while Harris and Scott have been great, I can't help but feel Vilma would be an upgrade over either. The decision to let Pennington walk in favor of an aging Favre ticked me off at the time also, but otherwise I doubt we move up to get Sanchez in '09, so there's that. Trader Mike's draft day moves in '08 were actually fairly solid. I know everyone's still pissed at him for drafting - I can't even say it - but to be fair, nothing was traded for the pick so nothing was really lost (well, except of course the opportunity to draft someone who could actually play in the NFL). As for trades, though, Tanny swapped the Jets 2nd and 4th round picks for the Packers 1st to land Dustin Keller, then turned around and swapped a 4th (from the Saints for Vilma) to the Packers for a 4th and 5th, which they used to grab Lowery.
2009 was an enormous year for Tanny, starting with the hiring of Rex Ryan (not a Yout, but I love the guy) and turning the Jets into the perennial contender they are today. The hiring of Ryan led directly to the signing of Jim Leonhard, our defensive QB, and Bart Scott, the first steps on the road to one of the most dominant NFL defenses in history. The defense already had most of the necessary parts in place, so Tannenbaum focused his draft day trading on beefing up the offense. A 1st and 2nd rounder along with three players were sent to the Packers for their 5th overall pick. Personally I'm a big Sanchez fan - he's progressed each of his three seasons and is having a solid year in 2011. I don't prescribe to the idea that low yardage indicates a bad game - especially on a team that prides itself on a strong running attack and an elite defense. The next trade, a 3rd, 4th, and 7th rounder to the Lions for their 3rd, used to pick Greene - a powerful back, who despite struggling early, is routinely ranked among the top 15 or so fantasy running backs in the league by the "experts." I say this lightly, because I don't know how someone can be an "expert" on a game that doesn't really exist! I have nothing against fantasy football and every season consider participating, but let's be honest, it has no actual impact on what happens Sunday, so until I do start playing, holds very little interest (except to see where my favorite players are ranked). Perhaps the biggest trade was, surprisingly enough, not on draft day - on October 7th, Tanny worked out a deal to bring the talented Mr. Braylon Edwards to NY - the first really talented big, fast deep threat since Keyshawn Johnson (and a far superior blocker!).
In 2010, Trader Mike again swapped out almost the entire draft while still managing to acquire some very talented players. The McKnight pick was made possible by giving the Panthers a 4th and 6th for their 4th, while Connor's was received in the Leon Washington trade with the Seahawks. As in 2009, Tanny's biggest trades did not come on draft day. Cromartie was acquired from the Chargers for a 3rd round pick (conditional 2nd, based on performance). I always loved Cromartie and still do - the guy's a great CB, and I don't forget in San Diego he was the one nobody wanted to throw against. I seem to remember watching a 2008 Chargers - Jets game with a friend from San Diego where Cromartie personally changed the tide with a 52 yd pick 6. LT than put it out of reach with two short TD runs in the second half - I mention this because SD soon decided it would be wise to give us their two best anti - Jet weapons. I frequently call SD the worst run franchise in the NFL (Brees to NO, really?), and I'm with you Rex - you probably would have won a ring with that talent. Hell, so would I - Turner's terrible! I can't say I approved of the Rhodes or Washington trades, but McKnight is proving to be a more than adequate replacement for Washington (with a defensive aspect Leon never had), and I'll just have to trust the FO that Rhodes was as big a distraction as they said. Last but certainly not least was Santonio Holmes from Pittsburgh for I believe an IOU for "free hugs for a month" - well, a 5th round pick, but it sure felt that way.
Finally we get to the current campaign, with Tanny actually being unusually quiet during the draft. The only significant move was swapping a 5th and 6th rounder to the Eagles to land Kerley in the 5th - who seems to be single-handedly replacing both Cotchery and Smith (with McKnight taking over Smith's ST responsibilities). The Lowery trade continues to baffle me - he was far and away our best cover safety, something that's severely lacking with our current safeties. I just hope Tanny knows something we don't - it wouldn't be the first time.
I think it's time to go ahead and wrap up Part 2, which is once again much longer than I planned (I tend to ramble when discussing my favorite team!) Part 3 will focus on FA signings, and hopefully get to what I originally intended to post - an analysis of the young talent on the current Jets roster.