Jets fire GM Mike Tannenbaum

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' disappointing season culminated Monday with tears and silence.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum, fired in an early-morning meeting with owner Woody Johnson, wrote a letter and got emotional as he read it to the team in what amounted to his farewell address. He was applauded by the players.

Tannenbaum became the first casualty of a 6-10 season. Rex Ryan, who said before the season this was the best team he's had in four years, will remain as the coach.

Johnson announced the fates of Ryan and Tannenbaum in a morning news release, opting not to address the media even though he spent the day at the Jets' facility.

Curiously, Ryan also didn't speak to reporters, canceling a late-afternoon news conference to wrap up the season. The Jets gave no reason, saying only that it was an "organizational decision," a team spokesman said.

Ryan's no-show fueled some speculation that his status could change, but that won't be the case, sources said.

Johnson fired Tannenbaum, the GM since 2006, after a second straight season out of the playoffs. The Jets, undermined by poor quarterback play and a lack of playmakers on offense, stumbled to their first losing season since 2007.

"Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship Games, we are not where we want to be, and a new general manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track," Johnson said in the statement.

The GM search commenced immediately. The Jets requested and received permission to with speak with at least two candidates -- Tom Gamble, the San Francisco 49ers' director of player personnel, and Marc Ross, the New York Giants' director of college scouting.

Johnson said he has consulted with "a number of football executives," adding that he has hired Korn/Ferry International, an executive search group. It will be headed by Jed Hughes, who previously led the GM search for the Seattle Seahawks.

Johnson eliminated any doubt about Ryan's future.

"I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team," Johnson said.

Ryan also has two years and about $6 million remaining on his contract. He has a 34-30 record, plus four playoff wins.

"Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year's results," Johnson said. "However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward."

The Jets are expected to make staff changes. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, on the job for only a year, is expected to be fired. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, whose contract has expired, likely will move on. Mike Westhoff, the special teams coach, is retiring.

It was a stunning fall for Tannenbaum. Only two years ago, he was preparing for his second straight AFC Championship Game. Since then, the talent base has eroded, leaving a roster filled with question marks and uncertainty at the quarterback position. The ill-fated Tim Tebow trade also hurt him. They're also saddled with several bad contracts.

In Tannenbaum's seven seasons, the Jets went 57-55, made the playoffs three times and won four playoff games. On his watch, they've had two head coaches, Eric Mangini and Ryan.

Tannenbaum, in a statement, thanked the organization, calling the GM job "the fulfillment of a dream I have had since I was a little kid." He said it was "disappointing" not to win a championship, but he believes he "drafted cornerstone players."

He spent 15 years with the Jets, starting out a salary-cap manager under Bill Parcells and working his way up to GM.

"I appreciate that it is rare for someone to stay with one organization with such a wide range of responsibilities for so many years," Tannenbaum said, adding, "There are champions on this team that haven't been crowned yet. I am confident that the base we've established will allow the New York Jets to continue a winning tradition for years to come."

Tannenbaum is responsible for every player on the roster. For some of the older veterans, it was a difficult moment, watching him choke up as he spoke to the players. Defensive tackle Mike DeVito said it reminded him of Mangini's final address to the team when he was fired in 2008.

"It's tough," DeVito said. "It's always tough when something like that happens in the NFL."

Tannenbaum was under fire most of the season, even from players.

A week before arriving for his second stint with the Jets, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, in a now-infamous tweet, said quarterback Mark Sanchez had been undermined by the "idiots" in management -- a direct shot at Tannenbaum. That they acquired Edwards on waivers didn't reflect well on Tannenbaum.

Early in the year, star cornerback Darrelle Revis openly questioned whether the front office surrounded Sanchez with enough weapons. On Monday, Revis said he had "really, no reaction" to Tannenbaum's firing.

"Everybody gets evaluated," he said. "In this business, we get evaluated every week. It's just the business side of it. He did great things for us the last couple of years, but I don't know. It's really sad. You don't want to see anybody get fired or anybody get cut or released in this manner, but it happens. He had a great speech that he wrote in the team meeting and guys clapped for him after and felt sad for him."

Tannenbaum became known as "Trader Mike" for his aggressive deals. His biggest trade came in 2009, when he dealt for Brett Favre. Some of his better moves were drafting Revis and trading for Antonio Cromartie.

But Tannenbaum also had some clunkers, none bigger than drafting Vernon Gholston in 2008 and making the controversial Tebow trade. Tannenbaum predicted that Tebow would be a "dynamic" weapon in the offense, but it was an unmitigated disaster. The decision to extend Sanchez's contract last offseason also proved to be a poor decision.