The Jets Suddenly Have a Full Backfield

Leon Washington returns to practice

For the second time in as many weeks the Jets got good news and, once again, it came via Twitter. Alvin Keels, agent for Leon Washington, sent out a message Monday morning informing the world that his client would be at Jets practice later in the day. It came to pass, reports Rod Boone of Newsday, which is good news for the Jets as they move forward with their preperations for next season.

Thomas Jones was also at the workout, making Monday the first day the team has had full participation this offseason. There was some worry that Jones, who has remained tight-lipped throughout his own contract standoff, would resume his holdout in advance of next week's mandatory minicamp.

The presence of both backs should make G.M. Mike Tannenbaum feel very good about the way he's played his hand this offseason. He had all the leverage in both situations, and never blinked in the face of growing concern that the Jets would wind up shooting themselves in the foot by taking a relatively hard line on contract negotiations. There's no question that having both Jones and Washington is a necessity for the Jets this season, but there's also no question that the team can't just roll over and hand out money every time a player asks for it.

Until there is a new collective bargaining agreement in place, Washington is slated to be a restricted free agent after this season. That's bad luck and bad timing for Washington, but the Jets wouldn't be doing things the right way if they didn't recognize that fact and use it to their advantage. Getting him signed to a long-term contract is a priority, and one that will likely be realized unless Washington and Keels are absolutely unwilling to accept that they may have to structure the contract a little differently because of the unusual moment in the business.

We've been over Jones before, but the feeling remains that the two sides will find a way to get Jones some more of the money from his existing contract without adding years or greater financial obligation. Again, the Jets have the high ground because Jones is signed for two more years, but they also have a vested interest in having him happy, healthy and part of the offense this season.

Those are two different stories, but the moral of both is the same. Neither Jones nor Washington increased their leverage by failing to show up for practice, because their backs are up against the wall and there's no way for them to get things moving in their favor.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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