With a new labor agreement in place, the 32 NFL teams have just a few days to sign free agents and rookies before training camp opens. With key defense players like David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, and Bart Scott looking for long-term deals, the cap-challenged Jets decided to apply the franchise tag on referee Ed Hochuli from University of Texas El Paso.
“Hochuli has an encyclopedic knowledge of the NFL rules, seems to have a good relationship with the league’s officiating crews, and scored a 49 on the Wunderlic test,” said head coach Rex Ryan.
Though Hochuli ran poorly at the Indianapolis combine, he benchpressed 225 pounds over 45 times, at least 20 times more than LB Calvin Pace. “Hochuli will fortify our defense. Though he seems more comfortable in a 4-3 scheme, we are confident that he will solidify the linebacking corp in the 3-4.”
“We negotiated with [Drew Rosenhaus] to come up with a cap-friendly one-year deal where Hochuli would count $8.4 million against the cap as a linebacker instead of the $12.5 million if he was a defensive end,” said Jets GM Mike Tannebaum.
While Hochuli was unhappy with the franchise tag designation, he was glad that “this lockout was finally over and I can get back to work.”