The Jets have a gaping hole at strong safety, and yesterday the NFL's most accomplished player at that position became available - John Lynch, who is in the process of parting ways with the Bucs. The Jets are interested in acquiring him, according to Lynch, and they have a huge recruiting advantage: He and Herman Edwards are like family.
Lynch, who forged a close relationship with Edwards during five seasons together in Tampa, said they've already talked about the possibility of a player-coach reunion. Lynch is all for it ("that's very intriguing to me; I can't hide that"), and apparently so is Edwards.
"In conversations with Herm, I've already told him, 'Don't do this because of our friendship. Do this because you think it's the right thing for your team and you think it can help you win a world championship,'" Lynch said in a conference call with reporters. "I feel like I could be an integral part of that. I want that to be the motivation. He assured me that's the case."
Lynch hasn't been officially released, but he has received permission from the Bucs to talk to other teams. He likely will be let go, although Bucs GM Bruce Allen said he would explore the possibility of a trade once Lynch picks his next team. Lynch, whose age (32) and salary ($5.1 million this year) made him expendable, said he's drawing "a great amount of interest."
The Jets, who cut Sam Garnes and Tyrone Carter two weeks ago, have no strong safeties on the roster (Carter signed with the Vikings yesterday). Their goal is to get younger and faster on defense, which would make Lynch a bad fit, but his resume (five Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl ring) and renowned intangibles could outweigh the age factor.
Edwards, out of town, wasn't available for comment. GM Terry Bradway, in a statement, didn't deny the club's interest, saying, "At this point of free agency, we continue to explore all of our options."
Lynch's health is a question. On Jan. 12, he underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his neck, which caused him to miss two games last season. He admitted the Bucs had expressed concern about his neck, but last week he visited a specialist who cleared him to play football again.
"I have no greater risk than any other NFL player," said Lynch, who experienced "stingers" throughout last season.
If cleared by the Jets' doctors, Lynch, who captained one of the greatest defenses in history (the 2002 Bucs), would provide much-needed leadership and toughness on their rebuilt defense.
No one knows that better than Edwards, who considers Lynch one of his closest friends. In fact, Lynch is the godfather of Edwards' son, Marcus. The two families spend holidays and vacations together.
The Jets have become wary of signing Edwards' former Bucs - safety Damien Robinson and end Steve White were disappointments - but the coach, no doubt, will fight hard to sign Lynch, a potential Hall of Famer.