AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Milliner, Jets

All 16 AFC coaches spoke to reporters today in Arizona, including the four head coaches for AFC East clubs. Asked repeatedly about the departure of Darrelle Revis, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer much insight, repeatedly answering, “It’s NFL free agency” (Twitter link via Albert Breer of the NFL Network). Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also didn’t share too many interesting tidbits.

However, new head coaches Rex Ryan (Bills) and Todd Bowles (Jets) were at least a little more forthcoming. Here are a few highlights from their conversations with the media, with all links going to the Twitter accounts of reporters in attendance:

Rex Ryan:

  • It was the Eagles who initiated the LeSean McCoy trade talks, calling the Bills about a potential deal — 30 minutes later, it was essentially done, according to Ryan, who says he and other Buffalo decision-makers were “stunned” that the star running back was available.
  • Since joining the Bills, McCoy has been a “chief recruiter” for bringing in free agents, playing a notable role in the signing of fullback Jerome Felton.
  • Ryan praised his team’s backfield depth, mentioning Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon multiple times without referring to Bryce Brown. Asked about Brown, Ryan joked, “I’m not going to learn his name until he holds onto the football.”
  • Recognizing that this could be his last shot at a head coaching job, Ryan said he wanted to land in the right spot, and he feels like Buffalo is that spot because of the team’s ownership. Ryan isn’t sure whether he would’ve taken another head coaching position if Doug Marrone hadn’t opted out of his deal with the Bills. According to Ryan, he was expecting to hear from the Bears after the Jets fired him, but he never did.

Todd Bowles:

  • The Jets had eight cornerbacks on their list of free agent targets and were hoping to sign two of them. In the end, the team landed three: Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine.
  • While the secondary has been fortified, Bowles says the Jets’ defense still isn’t complete, mentioning the draft as a spot to address it. Rich Cimini of interprets that to mean the team will be targeting a pass rusher early.
  • The Jets will do their “due diligence” on both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, working out both players. The club figures to take the best player available with the sixth overall pick though — Bowles also jokingly suggested that he’d be open to trading the pick for multiple first-rounders.
  • With newly-acquired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick not expected to be healthy, Geno Smith will head into the spring as the Jets’ No. 1 guy and will get the starter reps.
  • Bowles “definitely” expects Dee Milliner to be a Jet in 2015, suggesting the team doesn’t intend to trade the young cornerback.
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