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NY Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum Interview Transcript 8/1/11

by Tyson Rauch on August 2, 2011

On Monday New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On what he was looking for and what he expects from Plaxico Burress…

We just think he can come in and help us at the receiver position (with) his size, playmaking ability and toughness. One of the things that’s really impressive to us was the two teams he played for, Pittsburgh and the Giants, were two teams that brought him in immediately once free agency began. We’re really excited that he’s here, he’s going to come in and help us in both the pass game and the run game.

On signing Burress without seeing him workout…

Obviously, in a traditional situation where you have a little bit more time, that’s something we would have done. Free agency was obviously a pretty fluid situation and we felt comfortable for the player and the economics that was the appropriate thing to do.

On meeting with Burress a few years ago…

We did. In May of 2009, Woody and I met with him when his player eligibility and legal status were uncertain. We sat down and had a great meeting with him for what I think was a couple of hours. Woody and I just walked away really impressed with him and I think that meeting was the foundation to leading to the signing.

On whether he’s worried about Burress not having played in two seasons…

Obviously that’s a work in progress. We have to see it, it’s been two years and it’s not going to be the same from day one. We know that, but we’re excited about what we think he can do and we’ll keep monitoring the situation. But with him, Santonio, Dustin, LaDainian, we really feel like in the passing game we can do a lot of great things. Will there be bumps in the road? I’m sure, but we kind of factor that into the equation.

On not knowing whether Burress was in shape or not…

I’ve talked to his agent and all, but you know today is August 1st and we still have a good month and a week to get ready to go and we’ll see how that goes and we’ll just monitor the receiver situation.

On how important it was to get Cromartie after Nnamdi Asomugha signed with Philadelphia…

It was really important, but I think the foundation for (Cromartie) being here is just a tremendous win for our organization. He was clearly happy here. We were clearly happy with him. In free agency, things are fluid. Obviously we were talking to some other players, he was talking to some other teams. As I told him a few minutes ago, in free agency it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and I’m really happy he’s back and I think we can build on what we started last year.

On if Cromartie was upset that the Jets explored other options first…

Not from my perspective, but I think that speaks on the foundation of a year of good will. We had a great year with him last year, not only on the field but off the field. He’s a good person and a really good player, and I’m really happy that he’s here. But I think going into it there was a reservoir of good will that I feel carried the day. Because let’s face it, free agency is a fluid situation, but I know he’s happy and we’re happy. From where I sit, what I feel good about is Rex came in here and there were three things he wanted- corners, corners, corners. We have three corners who were drafted in the first round that are under contract for at least the next three years and for me that’s huge, because now we can go address other things on an ongoing basis but that is the foundation of our defense.

On if the hometown discount comment bugged him…

I’ve heard a lot worse than that about me (laughing). If that’s going to bother me, I’m in the wrong business. Some of you may feel I’m in the wrong business anyway, but it’s not based on that (joking).

On if another veteran wide receiver might be added to the mix…

We’ll see. We’re going to keep monitoring things. Obviously, our focus is going to turn to the field pretty quick here but I wouldn’t rule that out.

On Braylon Edwards…

I had a great talk with Braylon on Saturday afternoon. Here’s the bottom line on Braylon. He was with us for two years and we went to the championship game for two years and I put his tape up in the running game with anybody. What he did in the passing game speaks for itself. He was a great teammate and he did everything we asked and I couldn’t be more proud of the trade that we made. I really think he changed our season in 2009. These are tough decisions and when we sign Santonio Holmes, that’s not saying that we don’t like Braylon Edwards, that’s just saying that the economic and football decisions have to be prioritized at the end of the day. And those are tough, tough decisions but I told him privately and I’ll say it publicly- I’m proud that we traded for him. What we gave up wasn’t insignificant and I think that paid off in spades and I think he’s going to have a really good pro career and I’m really proud to say that I got a chance to work with him for a couple years.

On if money was the sole factor for not re-signing Edwards

I think it was a myriad of factors. I would say this, Santonio obviously was the priority. We felt that his skill set was dynamic, game-changing and a priority. And that’s not saying Braylon doesn’t do a lot of great things as well, but you just start with one and go from there. Like everybody else, we were in a lot of deals and out of a lot of deals. Some were very public, some weren’t and that’s what happens in free agency but typically you may go from one position to another. Obviously we talked to Todd Heap and got back with (Cromartie). Everything was so compressed, that it just happened really, really fast.

On what it was like making those financial decisions…

Challenging, but great stuff. I couldn’t say enough good things about Scott Cohen, Ari Nissim, right on down the line, Brendan Prophett. The hours were long but we’re coming out of it feeling really good about our team and feeling really good about our future. In a perfect world, I don’t think we would have gone into this year with all of these contracts up at the same time but I think we got creative. I think we solved a lot of problems not only for this year but moving forward so I feel really good about the foundation moving forward. With that said, we’re not done and if we have other opportunities, we’ll explore them.

On being in the office and at the negotiating table for so many hours…

It was tense at times, but I was challenging our people to come in with good ideas. Plaxico was on a plane and he lands in LA and we’re humming. And that’s just how it goes. You win some, you lose some but at the end of the day, I have Rex sitting right next to me saying, “How are we getting better?” and you only have to hear that 13 or 14 times to get the message.

On Randy Moss and the possibility of him being a Jet…

Right now I think we’re good at receiver from the standpoint that there’s nothing imminent, but could we add another receiver at some point? I wouldn’t rule it out, but Randy is a guy that has obviously done a lot of great things in his career as well.

On whether the Jets need Burress to play at a high level for the offense to be successful…

I’d say, first of all, looking at that position group, we have Santonio now for hopefully the whole season all the way through, knock on wood staying healthy and all that, so I think that’s going to be a big difference. Another year for Mark. It’s hard to quantify Plaxico, is he going to be sixty percent? 100 percent? I’m sure as the year goes on he’ll get better. But we’re really excited he’s here. His skill set, his length, his toughness, his ball skills, that’s going to help us. It’s hard for me to say that he has to be 80 percent for it to be a good decision, I think it’s the totality of all the moving parts we have. There will be other players that emerge as well.

On considering trades during the rest of the off-season…

Trades are always a possibility. Will any happen? I’m not sure. I won’t say which player in particular we would consider trading, but I think trades are always a way to improve your team if the right one comes along.

On rumors about trading Jerricho Cotchery…

I wouldn’t comment on a specific player, but I would expect more transactions between now and the Cowboys game.

On not getting Asomugha then transitioning to other decisions…

I guess we’ll know at the end of the year (if that works out). But we feel really good about getting (Cromartie) back. It was really significant late last night. That was a really important transaction because it’s the foundation of our defense. I think Nnamdi will do great with (Philadelphia), I think he’s a great player, I think Philadelphia is a great organization, and he made his decision and it was a very fluid situation but coming out of this with Santonio, Antonio as well as getting Plaxico, I think that was good for us. Some other signings to us that were very important were getting Wayne Hunter back, getting Eric Smith back, getting Donald Strickland, who two years ago had beaten out Drew Coleman. I think Drew Coleman is a really good player. I think he’s under the radar, I think that was a great signing by Jacksonville. Getting Nick Folk back, I think we accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Rob Turner is very versatile, a guy that knows the game and does a lot of jobs for us.

Were there any awkward moments with Cromartie because of the pursuit of Asomugha…

I don’t think so because we had a good relationship there. The lines of communication were open and the fact that the same agent represented both players in my mind made it a little bit easier, not harder. It wasn’t “We didn’t want (Cromartie).” It’s my job to look into opportunities. Whether it’s Plaxico Burress in May of 2009, or a player in free agency or Todd Heap, you’re not going to get every player you talk to but I think that’s my number one job responsibility. How can we make the Jets better? And if I’m not talking to agents and players, then I don’t feel like I’m holding up my end of the bargain.

On if there was a time when he thought they would not re-sign Cromartie…

Sure. Absolutely.

On if there was pressure to re-sign Cromartie because he was the next best available…

Well he was for us because we knew him and he played here. But there were other corners as well. There’s no certainty, especially in this last week. It was a crazy week.

On the experience of the entire free agency period as a whole…

About 25,000 calories. I got Rex going to Friendly’s every night picking up Friendly Fribble after Friendly Fribble. He wants to know who we signed. You could just imagine what it’s like with Rex every day. I’ve been fortunate to be in the league for a while and I really feel like we’re prepared and diligent. But it was nothing like I ever expected. I give a lot of credit to the agents as well because they’re trying to sign 20, 30 guys as well. So it was multiple all-nighters but the net effect of it is that I really like our team and I like the fact that in March of 2012 you guys won’t have to email me 14 times a day because hopefully we’ll have a little less to do, you guys as well as me. I just feel like the foundation is there for a couple years now, and in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have so many guys hit the market the way they did and retrospectively, I could have done a better job to plan for that. But with that said, I feel like we came through the week in a really good spot. You hate to see a guy like Brad Smith go. What a great guy he is, on the field and off the field. That’s the tough part of the business, but there’s a Brad Smith in that locker room. We’re not sure who it’s going to be, but we’re going to have somebody emerge and that’s the exciting thing about our sport, too.

On Shaun Ellis…

I talked to Shaun the other day, I had a great talk with him. He’s a free-agent, he’s assessing his options. He’s the longest tenured Jet. That means a lot to me. We’ll see what happens.

On if he’s made Ellis an offer…

I’d just say that we’re talking.

On if visiting Burress was unorthodox and if he thought he could sign him back in 2009….

I do not think it was really unorthodox. He was a free agent that is a really good football player. There was uncertainty with his eligibility and his legal situation, but again, that is something that is my charge. We had a great meeting. (He is a) really interesting guy and I think that really helped lay the foundation since he had to make a decision quick, we had to make a decision quick and I really think that was an important part of the process.

On the phone call informing him that Asomugha would not be signing with the team…

From a competitive standpoint, sure, you are competing for players, but it is on to the next thing. That’s the mindset that you need to have, especially with the week that was going on. We had plan B the whole time. We were working relentlessly and diligently to make sure that if this plan works, we’re good, if this plan works, we’re good. So we are going to come out okay. We are not putting all of our eggs in one basket, and we’re not going to be caught by surprise. So we were prepared to move on quickly.

On if he thought he definitely had Asomugha…

No, I never think I have anybody. I’m going to keep working until we get the signature.

On Damien Woody’s retirement in the off-season…

He is one of my all-time favorites. I had a really funny talk with him the other day. He is a great guy and he did a lot of good things. I wish him well and he played really well for us. Maybe his last game, that Colt playoff game was remarkable against Freeney and Mathis, on the road, on their carpet, with crowd noise. He played flawless that game and I think that is a great legacy for him. I think in his next career, he will do just as well.

On restructuring contracts and how he approached players…

I wouldn’t want to address that publicly, I think that’s private. But I will say that we have created a great environment that players want to be here and I am really proud to be a part of that. I will just leave it at that.

On if Coach Ryan being able to wipe the slate clean with players’ pasts makes his job easier…

I think it’s still a calculation because we have a lot of great players and great people. Santonio Holmes is a great teammate. I challenge anyone in this room. Go watch the Houston Texans game in two weeks and when our defense is on the field, look at who is going to be standing next to Rex. Okay, he better do it now that I mentioned it (joking). He is a great teammate who loves football. Has Santonio had bumps on the road? Absolutely, but sometimes the perception of what it is and what they’re like in our locker room is different. Sure, with Rex, he’s a big thinker and has his own style and that’s fun and interesting because we could look at any possibility. When you get to know these guys, be it Santonio or Antonio, Antonio is a great guy, he loves football. He’s in this complex all the time. He really is a football junkie so I think it gives us the opportunity to get to know these guys and then to me, now you can build on that. If there is the right opportunity to extend both of these guys, it’s good business for us.

What do you think about Tannenbaum’s comments Jets fans? Talk about them in the JetNation forums.

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