On the field, the New York Jets are flying high, with a 2-0 record and the look and feel of a playoff team.
Off the field, the Jets have found themselves in the middle of a couple of messes.
Last week, the team, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, and former coach Eric Mangini were fined a total of $125,000 for hiding an injury to former quarterback Brett Favre. (We’ve got a final word on that situation coming later today.) This week, the Jets find themselves on the wrong end of tampering allegations.
According to Gary Myers and Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News, the 49ers have accused the Jets of tampering with receiver Michael Crabtree.
The Jets have denied the allegations.
Though, as the Daily News points out, the specific of the charges aren’t known, NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders recently suggested that two other teams were interested in paying Crabtree a contract worth $40 million. (That $40 million figure resurfaced again yesterday in a report from FOX’s Jay Glazer regarding the status of the Crabtree holdout.) We then argued that the Niners should insist on a tampering investigation, especially since Sanders is an employee of the league and he presumably knows the names of the teams that were willing to pay Crabtree $2 for every $1 the Niners have offered.
The deadline for trading Crabtree’s rights expired on August 14. The 49ers have until November 17 to sign him, or Crabtree will be unable to play in 2009. After March 1, he can be signed by the 49ers or traded to a new team. The problem, however, is that the team that signs Crabtree in 2010 would have to find a way to pay him with no additional rookie pool allocation.
In this case, the potential tampering could come from various possible activities. If, for example, the Jets called agent Eugene Parker prior to August 14 to talk about numbers that would be offered if the Jets were to trade for Crabtree’s rights, that would be tampering. Also, if the Jets made it known to Parker that they’d be interested in drafting Crabtree next year, that would be tampering.
Though many assume that Crabtree would like to stay home in Texas and play for the Cowboys, Crabtree apparently is the latest NFL wideout who believes he can parlay his running and catching skills into revenue streams from smiling for the cameras and delivering simple lines in clunky, awkward ways. So his attraction to New York is obvious.
It’s not the first time the Jets have faced tampering allegations involving a receiver. Three years ago, the Patriots alleged that the Jets had tampered with receiver Deion Branch. As legend has it, the evidence was clear, but the league looked the other way.
Earlier this year, the Broncos made it known that they were keeping an eye out for evidence that the Jets were tampering with receiver Brandon Marshall.
Still, there’s a belief in some league circles that 280 Park Avenue gives preferential treatment to the Jets and to G.M. Mike Tannenbaum. Though last week’s discipline contradicts that perception to an extent, the total fines for cheating on the injury report pale in comparison to the fines imposed on the Patriots for cheating by videotaping defensive coaching signals.