A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Methodical Mike: You may not agree with Mike Maccagnan's negotiating positions with regard to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Muhammad Wilkerson, but say this for the general manager: He's not afraid to take unpopular stances.
One of his predecessors, Mike Tannenbaum, was known to make impulsive moves to capture fan and media approval. Some worked out, but he had some big-money misses. Maccagnan already has developed a reputation as a hard-line GM, with a philosophy that aligns close to -- dare I say it? -- the New England Patriots.
The Patriots operate in cold-blooded fashion, removing the emotion from contract decisions. As a result, they've parted ways with many household names over the years, taking heat for some of those moves. But they keep winning. Of course, it helps to have the ultimate ace in the hole -- Tom Brady, whose presence allows Bill Belichick to play hardball with the rest of the roster. The Jets don't have anyone close to Brady, so Maccagnan's approach to Fitzpatrick and Wilkerson can best be described as double-edged.
"Mike is in a position to make a statement to the players, to show them who's boss," said a former GM, commenting specifically on the Fitzpatrick dispute. "But if he caves and it goes south, the agent community will see it. It's a delicate situation."
In 17 months as GM, Maccagnan has doled out only one bloated contract -- Darrelle Revis, who received $39 million guaranteed. Clearly, that was an impulse buy. Since that blockbuster, he hasn't made any financially outrageous moves, sticking to his value board. He lives in a long-term world, which is great, but the honeymoon will end abruptly if the Jets are Fitz-less and stink it up this season.
2. Philly phanatics: The Philadelphia Eagles have made life difficult for the Jets (and a lot of other teams) with their over-the-top spending spree. Two signings, in particular, are impacting the Jets -- quarterback Sam Bradford (two years, $35 million) and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (six-year extension, $103 million). Wilkerson wants Cox money and Fitzpatrick wants Bradford money, or close to it. The Jets may believe the deals are aberrations, but try telling that to the agents.
3. What's the Mo-tivation? Some people might be wondering what Wilkerson could gain by not reporting to training camp on July 27 -- assuming he doesn't get a new deal. It couldn't be a long-term contract because the deadline is July 15 for players with the franchise tag. So why stay away? A few reasons:
He can avoid injury and rest his surgically repaired broken leg. He can try to create some agita for the Jets. He also can try to leverage them into agreeing to a no-tag clause for 2017; that could potentially be worth a lot of money. Technically, he could try to squeeze them for more money in 2016. By rule, he'd have to sign a one-year deal for the franchise tender ($15.7 million), but there's no rule that would prohibit him from asking for, say, performance bonuses.
I'd be surprised if Wilkerson shows up on time. Remember, he can't be fined because he's not under contract, so there's no downside. He won't lose money unless his sits out games in the regular season, and that's unlikely. The last franchise-tagged player to do that was Walter Jones in 2002, according to NFL.com.
4. Geno & Co.: Geno Smith spent time earlier in the offseason throwing to the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown and Jarvis Landry during informal workouts in South Florida -- not a bad receiving corps.
"Just staying fresh in the offseason," Smith said. "Odell knows some of my boys, so we all hang out together. We talk football. A lot of South Florida guys, a lot of guys in this locker room come down."
5. Deion ready for prime time? One player to watch in training camp will be Deion Barnes, a former practice-squad player who has worked his way into the outside-linebacker mix. Barnes, who played defensive end at Penn State, made nice strides in the offseason and earned strong praise from his position coach. "In a year's time, he's probably the most improved young player at any position," Mark Collins said.
At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Barnes has prototypical size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He also plays with a nice burst on the edge. He was the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2012, but like many players at Penn State, he probably was adversely affected by the off-the-field issues that crippled the program. Who knows? Maybe the Jets have uncovered an undrafted gem.
"We'd like to have that encore and 20 percent more efficiency," wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell said.
By that, Dorrell means better route running and fewer dropped passes. Marshall was fourth in the league with eight drops, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's his yearly average, but we have to mention he was the NFL's most-targeted receiver over the last 10 years. Still, Dorrell believes Marshall can reduce the drops by fine-tuning his route running. The thinking is, if he can gain better separation, he can be a cleaner target for the quarterback.
7. Revis mum: Revis declined to discuss why he decided to part ways with longtime agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod. Revis called it a "personal" decision. He still hasn't hired a new agent, according to the NFLPA website.
8. Brick a Giant? When reports surfaced about the New York Giants' interest in tackle Eugene Monroe, it triggered a thought: Could the Giants try to lure D'Brickashaw Ferguson out of retirement? After all, he's only 32 years old. The answer is no, he hasn't received a call from the Giants. Ferguson is intent on staying retired, I'm told.
9. Famous last words: This is a stressful time of the year for coaches. The offseason program is over, and the players are on their own for the next six weeks. Every coach fears the 4 a.m. phone call with the news that one of his players is in trouble. At the end of minicamp, Todd Bowles gave his players the obligatory "stay-out-of-trouble" speech, telling them, "Don't be that guy." Sheldon Richardson was that guy last summer, although the Jets didn't find out until two weeks after the fact. This time, he vows to have an uneventful summer break.
10. Rex being Rex: If the NFL handed out Lombardis for mythical offseason championships, Rex Ryan would need to build another trophy room and opposing coaches would be talking about not wanting to kiss his rings.