Florham Park, N.J.– The players might have cleaned out their lockers and headed for a much needed vacation, but the offseason is when GMs such as Mike Tannenbaum get to put in work to contribute to the success or failure of the team.

Since he was hired in 2006 Tannenbaum has done a masterful job of building this team, both through free agency and the draft and over the last couple of season he has been very aggressive and it has paid dividends as the Jets found themselves in the AFC Championship two years in a row.

The season may be over for the players, but for Mike Tannenbaum it's just getting started.

“I thought this past season was a good one. I’m really proud of some of the things we’ve accomplished, getting to back-to-back AFC Championship games.” Tannenbaum said, “(It) obviously solidifies our program. I think we have a great foundation for sustainable success for the future. I’m really proud of our coaching staff, obviously, led by (Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) and all of his talented assistants.”

As great of a season as it was and as great of a job Tannenbaum has done over the past couple of years, the Jets didn’t accomplish their ultimate goal and Tannenbaum is now faced with a myriad of difficult choices to make in order for the Jets to be playing in the seasons final game.

The bold moves Tannenbaum made over the past couple of season were shrewd and effective, but now comes the difficult part. Trading for the likes of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie were easy enough decisions, but with all of them plus multiple other players now becoming free agents the decision of who to re-sign and who to let walk will be much tougher.

“We’d actually like to keep all three, with Brad (Smith) in the mix there, as well. We want to keep as many of our good players, as possible, so we’ll see what the system looks like and then move forward from there.” Tannenbaum said when asked for his plans involving Holmes and Edwards. “Both those players, Braylon and Santonio, did a really good job for us. I think they helped Mark’s (Sanchez) development. Both made big plays during the season (and) in the postseason. Both had big touchdowns, obviously, in the Patriot game. I’m proud of what both of those guys accomplished for us. Then, we’ll see what the system looks like moving forward. We hope to keep them all.”

The Jets had to give up a second round draft pick to get Cromartie, but now the question becomes how much are they willing to pay to keep him?

“By and large, he had a good year for us on the field. He wasn’t perfect, but he played well. I’m glad he was a Jet. He did everything we asked of him. I thought he got better. I think he has a great coach in Dennis Thurman, who works very carefully on his techniques.” Tannenbaum said, “Obviously, I’m not in a position to comment on what he said, especially when he’s talking to other people (and) other players on other teams. That’s really not for me to comment on. I would say, based on his entire body of work and based on his year with us, he is a guy we would like to keep. Again, once we get a sense of what the system looks like, we’ll move forward, but I’m really proud of what he did on the field this year and I think he bought in, worked hard and helped us win.”

There has been a lot of talk about the Raiders’ Nnamdi Asomugha becoming an unrestricted free agent, but Tannenbaum wasn’t about to go there, saying, “He’s a player under contract with another team. I can’t comment on him.”

One free agent Tannenbaum was willing to talk about was middle linebacker David Harris and he confirmed the general consensus that Harris was the Jets top priority this offseason. Last offseason Tannenbaum was focused on locking up Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis to long-term contracts and because of this Harris was told he would have to wait until after the season, but that he would be top priority and it looks like Tannenbaum is going to make good on that promise.

“He remains a top priority for us. David has done a lot of great things for us on and off the field. We expect him to be here for years to come.” Tannebaum said, “We are into what the nuances of what (will happen) when the old system ends and the new one begins and the rules (pertaining to the systems). Those are things we are still trying to figure out. When we know all of the specific rules of those systems, we will move forward, but David is a top priority.”

Part of the problem facing GMs around the league is the uncertainty of the new CBA and the types of restrictions that will be placed upon them.

“Once a new CBA is worked out and we get  sense of years to free agency, if there is a cap, how much is it, years for proration, all those other variables, we’ll move forward.” Tannenbaum said, “Up until that point, we’ll have a plan and know that we’re going to have to adjust to it.”

One thing the league has informed teams is that they can still place the franchise tag on a player as long as they do it before the 2010 calendar season ends in March, with all the big name free agents on the Jets it would make sense that they make use of this option, as they could sign one of the top two WRs and franchise the other or franchise Harris and sign both WRs.

“My understanding is that the league (rules this year) apply until the end of the season. If this is the case, then we have to operate with tenders and franchise tags. We will certainly look at that during the month of February. We have another four-and-a-half weeks until the end of the league year, so if that’s something we need to do and we have that at our disposal. It’s something we will take a look at.”

When asked about signing Harris to a long-term contract or using the franchise tag Tannenbaum said, “I wouldn’t eliminate either option.”

Tannenbaum also named a long list of players that he said the team would, “take a long look at it.” Including big names such as Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor and LT to name a few.

Retirement could be a possibility for many of these players, but if they do decide to come back Tannenbaum made it clear the team would like to have them back, whether that’s realistic we will have to wait and see.

Tannenbaum also addressed the topic of Sanchez’s shoulder, but everything about that shoulder remains shrouded in mystery as Tannenbaum said, “We haven’t made a decision there yet. He’s going to get a couple of opinions and then we’re going to make the best decision, once we get all the information, so no decision has been reached yet.”

Jets fans may be dying for a new offensive coordinator, but they aren’t going to get it this season. Tannenbaum said there has been no request from the Titans about their vacant Head Coaching position and eluded to the fact that he most likely did receive some calls about Schottenheimer, but Tannenbaum said, “Yes. He is certainly coming back.”

Tannenbaum faces a tough challenge, he must build off the success of the last two seasons while trying to keep this team intact and infuse it with some new blood. One of things he is looking to focus on improving the most is consistency.

“I think the big thing is consistency. I know Darrelle (Revis) touched on that the other day, but we really do need to be more consistent. It starts really from day one. Mark Sanchez is certainly one of them, but a lot of young players, the Nick Mangolds, Darrelle (Revis), D’Brickashaw (Ferguson), those guys are our foundation and we need to start more consistently, stay there and play a complete 16-game season.

“If you look back at the last few years, we won nine regular season games, then 11 and we need to keep improving on that. Obviously, we have great competition. Buffalo always plays us hard. Miami, we split last year and then you have a 14-win New England team in our division. The bar is pretty high in our division, and for us to get to where we want to go, we need to win more regular season games (and), hopefully, win a division. I think that would be one of our goals for next year.”

The word consistency has taken on a new meaning to Jets fans over the past couple of years as Rex Ryan likes to continually point out, “Same old Jets, in the AFC Championship game,” but as great as all that is, it isn’t good enough and it’s Tannenbaum’s job to make sure he has everything in the proper order for this team to complete their mission next season.
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