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Free Agency Jets Fuel

More news from New York that could impact the Cowboys' free agency plans.

The will-they-or-won't-they decision on DE John Abraham has been made. The Jets have informed Abraham that they will franchise him for a second consecutive year. Initial reports had New York frachising him, but a newspaper story earlier this week pointed out that New York might not have the cap room to successfully franchise him. The Jets have determined they can carry his $8 million salary and will have to release several other veterans to do this. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that CB Ty Law, OTs Jason Fabini and Scott Gragg, OG Pete Kendall, FB Jerald Sowell and backup QB Jay Fieldler will all be cut soon.

The cuts may go much deeper before new GM Mike Tannenbaum is done. QB Chad Pennington's contract situation has to be resolved. Tannenbaum wants Pennington to accept a $1 million base salary with incentives that could reach his current $8 million salary if he returns and performs well.

The Star-Ledger says he is willing to renegotiate but Newsday claims his agent Tom Condon has refused the Jets' offer. The Daily News quotes two offensive players who believe the team should release Pennington.

Franchising Abraham would likely kill Dallas' interest in him, since it would cost big money plus the Cowboys first round pick to obtain him.

Fabini would likely interest Dallas if he was released. And keep an eye on Sowell. According to the 2005 Pro Football Weekly season preview,

Sowell had a Pro-Bowl type season in some observers' minds, having his most productive season as a lead blocker while also contributing in the passing game as a steady dump-off option.

That was a report on his 2004 performance, when he helped Curtis Martin gain 1,697 yards, score 14 TDs and earn the NFL rushing title. Injuries to Pennington, the offensive line and Martin short-circuited the Jets' 05, but Sowell can still fill a Cowboys need.

Update: I hope Mike Tannenbaum has some security clauses built into his contract, because his situation is a mess. The teammates who want to cut Chad Pennington have not done the math. He counts $8 million against the Jets cap now. Cutting him would balloon that figure to $12 million.

Let's do some math of our own. The Jets are $25 million over the cap. They want to franchise John Abraham, which guarantees him $8.3 million for '06. That jumps their debt to over $30 million. If Pennington balks at reworking his deal, and he is right now, that $30 million will have to come from lesser deals, meaning the number of players New York cuts just got greater, since Abraham and Pennington are $16 million of the anticipated $92 million cap ceiling.

This also has to factor into New York's draft plans. If Pennington's shoulder is questionable and the team has to cut backup Jay Feidler which they apparently do, how can they pass up on Jay Cutler? Sure, everybody has them taking D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but who's going to call signals for this team?

As I said, what a mess. Herman Edwards took a lot of grief for walking on this team, but can you blame him today?

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