Bill Belichick may have given up on outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham and cornerback Ras-I Dowling last August, but Rex Ryan couldn’t care less whether the Patriots castoffs didn’t live up to the expectations of football’s preeminent genius. He thinks they can revive their careers with the Jets. “I don’t believe the one guy up in New England’s got all the answers,” Ryan told the Daily News. “I worry about ourselves, what we think of a player and how we evaluate a player. Do I respect the hell out of Bill? Absolutely. But if we think a player can help us, we don’t care how we get him.” In some ways, Cunningham and Dowling are outliers, former second-round picks discarded so quickly by the team that once coveted them. In other ways, they epitomize the unforgiving NFL culture that routinely pushes former college standouts to the margins if they can’t stay healthy. Cunningham and Dowling’s careers have been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, a deadly blend in an ultra-competitive environment with a shrinking margin of error for players. “You can’t take anything for granted in this league,” Dowling said. “Anything can happen.” Ryan, of course, isn’t giving Cunningham, the 53rd overall pick in the 2010 draft, and Dowling, the first player selected in the second round in 2011 (No. 33), another chance simply out of the goodness of his heart. He needs help at outside linebacker and cornerback, and isn’t concerned by the perception that Belichick wouldn’t have cut the cord on the high draft picks unless they weren’t good enough to play at this level. “You had the same perception of a Ryan,” Ryan said. “If you let a defensive player go, why pick him up if he can’t play for you?... It could have been a logjam at (the position). Maybe they were looking for something else. You really don’t know. But again, I don’t care.” Cunningham, who was a sack machine for the two-time national champions at the University of Florida, had just 3 ½ sacks in three seasons for the Patriots, hampered by a hamstring injury and sprained MCL before he was cut. He spent one month with the 49ers last year before the Jets signed him in November.
Rex Ryan looking to bolster NY Jets' defense with pair of castoffs from Patriots
New York Daily News | Jun 15