LaDainian Tomlinson looked around quizzically when asked if this year’s New York Jets were the NFL’s version of a dream team.
Tomlinson, who restructured his contract to help the Jets sign more players, then laughed and said the obvious: “We don’t have LeBron, D-Wade, or Chris Bosh on the team.’’
Still, LT wasn’t dismissing the notion the Jets are among the Super Bowl favorites as the most unusual preseason in NFL history begins following the 4 1/2-month lockout. Nor was coach Rex Ryan, who called this the best roster he’s had since coming to New York, holding back.
“In my mind, there’s a great opportunity for us to win and that’s the No. 1 thing, in my mind to be somewhere where we have a chance to win the Super Bowl,’’ Tomlinson said yesterday after the team’s first workout.
Ryan, sporting a new tribal-style tattoo on the side of his right calf, reiterated his belief this is the Jets’ year to win their first NFL title since the 1969 Super Bowl.
“In my mind, [yes],’’ Ryan said. “I don’t know about everybody else’s [mind], we usually aren’t even favored to win . . . I just know what I believe in my heart and that’s that this is going to be our year.’’
He also issued a challenge to 30 other teams.
“I think we need to find someone else besides the Jets to beat the New England Patriots,’’ Ryan said, noting New England won the division the last two seasons, forcing the Jets to play all their playoff games on the road. “Are you good enough to beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league.’’
New York beat the Patriots twice in 2010, including a second-round playoff game. To enhance their chances of overtaking the Patriots and making that final leap into the Super Bowl, several Jets reworked their contracts, allowing them to keep wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, grab former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, and even be in the sweepstakes for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha until he chose Philadelphia.
Cromartie signed a four-year contract yesterday. He said there were no hard feelings about the Jets’ pursuit of Asomugha before they turned back to him.
“We both went out and searched our options and I don’t feel like Plan B at all,’’ Cromartie said.
Samuel speaks out If the Eagles want to trade him, that’s fine with Asante Samuel.
He’ll be glad to take all his touchdowns and interceptions to another NFL team.
“If they’re tired of my big-play-making ability, maybe they’ll ship me out,’’ Samuel said. “Maybe they’ll keep me. Who knows?’’
Samuel reported yesterday after missing the first four days of training camp with an excused, undisclosed personal matter.
During those four days, the Eagles’ cornerback position grew very crowded. The Eagles acquired Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Cardinals and signed another Pro Bowler, Asomugha, as a free agent.
Samuel, who has 42 interceptions in eight seasons, spent his first five seasons with the Patriots, playing in three Super Bowls.
Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said there was no reason all three cornerbacks couldn’t coexist. “Everybody’s trying to get three and really four good corners, the way people throw the football,’’ Castillo said. “We have three starters. We need three starters.’’
In other Eagles news, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was traded to Denver for a 2013 draft pick, two days after the Eagles agreed to send the former first-round pick to Cleveland. Bunkley was initially sent to the Browns Saturday for a fifth-round pick in 2012. He reported to Cleveland but did not meet all the conditions of the trade and reverted to the Eagles, who found a new suitor in Denver. The Eagles also agreed to terms on a four-year contract with first-round pick Danny Watkins, a guard.
Bradshaw re-signs Free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw is returning to the Giants, a person close to the situation told the Associated Press. Contract terms are not immediately available. Bradshaw took over as starting halfback last season and rushed for 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns . . . Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has agreed to restructure his contract to help the defending AFC champions get under the $120.4 million cap . . . The Chargers placed tight end Antonio Gates on the physically unable to perform list. Gates has plantar fasciitis in his right foot, an injury that sidelined him for six games last season . . . The Vikings signed veteran offensive lineman Charlie Johnson. Johnson started 54 games for the Colts over six seasons.
Taylor rejoins Miami Jason Taylor, the NFL’s active career sacks leader who turns 37 Sept. 1, rejoined the Dolphins. Taylor, who spent his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins, played for Washington in 2008, rejoined the Dolphins in 2009, and played last year for their biggest rivals, the Jets. The Dolphins also signed offensive tackle Marc Colombo, the former Cowboys and Boston College standout . . . The Raiders agreed to a five-year, $48 million contract with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, with $29 million guaranteed . . . Defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson agreed to terms with the Colts . . . Left guard Carl Nicks signed a restricted free agent tender with the Saints worth about $2.61 million . . . The Buccaneers re-signed linebacker and special teams standout Adam Hayward to a three-year contract . . . Veteran quarterback Derek Anderson signed with the Panthers.