It's easy to overlook the importance of special teams' specialists. At the same time, when a special teams player shanks a field goal, a coverage guy misses a key tackle, or a bad snap resorts in a turnover, we find ourselves cursing at the TV. A lot.
In the offseason, the Jets released special teams' specialists WR Wallace Wright and LB Marques Murrell. They failed to pay Jay Feely the money he was worth, which resulted in the addition of former Cowboys' kicker Nick Folk to replace him. Folk really struggled under pressure in 2009. From the outside looking in, we definitely have a couple of potential red flags on Mike Westhoff's unit.
The Jets now have another red flag to address.
10-year veteran long snapper James Dearth spent nine of those said years as a Jet, and he did it with consistency. Unfortunately, he will not be back in 2010, because he has now signed with the Redskins. We do not know the specifics yet, as the source of this information told the AP on Saturday on condition of anonymity because the Redskins planned to announce the signing on Sunday.
The concern coming out of this move, stems from the Jets' lack of depth at this position. Tanner Purdum has zero NFL experience, and he is now the guy who will be replacing Dearth. Furthermore, he is coming off a bad showing in Cortland. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini shared the specifics surrounding the situation below:
Dearth was the New York Jets' long snapper from 2001 to 2009 -- and a good one -- but he's 34 and is entitled to about $800,000 in salary (the veterans' minimum for a player with his experience). The Jets chose not to re-sign Dearth, an unrestricted free agent, opting for Purdum.
Purdum, 25, who has no NFL experience, was doing nicely until Friday, when he experienced a couple of hiccups in practice.
"That concerned me," Ryan said. "He's been doing a great job. He can really snap the ball. He has to be accurate. That can't be a question because he doesn't have great size (6-3, 270)."