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Jets rope Faneca with five-year, $40-million deal

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

March 2, 2008

The hyperactive Jets have landed the big fish of their free-agency cast, agreeing to terms with veteran guard Alan Faneca last night on a five-year, $40-million contract that comes with $21 million in guaranteed money. It is the largest free-agent contract in Jets history and makes Faneca the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

But more significantly, it turns what was the embodiment of the failures of 2007 - the offensive line - into a strength and finally should exorcise the haunting memories of Pete Kendall. Faneca will be expected to not only be a presence on the line but a mentor to left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. The Jets still might be looking for a right tackle in free agency and are expected to begin wooing Damien Woody, who won two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

In two days, the Jets have made three franchise-rattling moves, trading linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the Saints for draft picks, trading draft picks to the Panthers for nose tackle Kris Jenkins and agreeing to terms with Faneca.

The 31-year-old will fly to New York today and is scheduled to have a physical and sign his contract tomorrow. Technically, he's not a Jet until then, so the team would not comment.

Faneca had listened to offers from the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers that were financially comparable. He ultimately decided that he liked the direction in which the Jets are headed.

"It was a hard decision to make," said Faneca's agent, Rick Smith, "but Alan went with his gut and feels that this team can take it to the next level."

After a 4-12 season, the next level might not be so very high. But after a spending splurge this weekend, with several other potential free agents still queued up to meet with the open-wallet Jets, the team already is looking like a playoff contender.

Consider that Faneca and Jenkins' combined contracts look like this: 10 years, $75 million. The Jets spent $41 million in guaranteed money on two players in less than 48 hours, but they did acquire a combined 10 Pro Bowl appearances and the proper perception that they are a team on the rise.

Their next big signing likely will come on defense. The team met yesterday with linebacker Calvin Pace, who appears to be deciding between the Jets and Dolphins, and they are expected to make a push for cornerback Randall Gay. The Jets also have touched base with Philadelphia regarding the possibility of trading for Lito Sheppard, a starting cornerback for the Eagles before they signed Asante Samuel as a free agent Friday.


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Jets break out big bucks for Pro Bowl guard Faneca

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Star-Ledger Staff

The Jets have made seven-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca a very rich man and hope he can help make them a very good team.

The Jets reached an agreement with Faneca yesterday on a five-year, $40 million contract that includes $21 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

It's the largest free-agent deal in Jets history.

The deal comes on the heels of the Jets signing three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to a five-year, $35-million deal on Friday that included $20 million guaranteed.

The moves add up to the biggest two-day spending spree in club history.

And the Jets aren't done.

Linebacker Calvin Pace (Cardinals) visited yesterday. He's considered one of the top linebackers in free agency and is seeking nearly $20 million guaranteed. The Jets and Dolphins are reportedly vying for his services, setting up a stare-down between Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and his former mentor, Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' new boss.

According to someone aware of the team's intentions, veteran guard/center Damien Woody (Lions) is scheduled to visit today, and the Jets have also contacted cornerbacks Will James (Eagles) and Randall Gay (Patriots), safety Eugene Wilson (Patriots), linebacker Mario Haggan (Bills) and right tackle Shane Olivea (Chargers). They're expected to visit next week.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the team.

That person also said that coach Eric Mangini made an 11th-hour plea to cornerback Asante Samuel to delay signing with the Eagles and come in for a visit. Samuel, however, declined, telling Mangini the Jets entered the bidding too late. It was initially believed the Jets had no plans to pursue Samuel.

Faneca, 31, was the player the Jets wanted most. And, it turns out, Faneca wanted the Jets. The 10-year veteran will step in at left guard between center Nick Mangold and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

Faneca will fly to NewYork today. He'll take a physical tomorrow and then sign his contract. He picked the Jets over the 49ers and Rams.

"The money was about the same," Faneca's agent, Rick Smith, said yesterday. "It was a gut feeling. It was something that felt right to Alan and his family.

"The Jets are bringing in a lot more then a left guard and seven-time Pro Bowler, they're bringing in a guy who understands what it takes to win. He relishes the opportunity to come in and become a veteran leader and show the guys how to get to the next level. He has won a Super Bowl."

Faneca, 6-5, 307 pounds, was the top guard on the market. But it was thought the Jets would have trouble attracting top free agents coming off a 4-12 finish last season -- not to mention the stories about Mangini's unrelenting training camps and practices.

"Alan believes in that," said Smith. "I made him well aware of the way coach Mangini wants things done. He thinks that's what it takes to win."

After finishing last season with rookies and free agents along the offensive line, the Jets are determined to get some depth and will meet with Woody. He's a nine-year veteran, spent his first five seasons with the Patriots and earned a Pro Bowl berth as a center in 2003. He has played with the Lions the past four seasons, having moved to guard.

Olivea, a three-year starter with the Chargers, was recently released. Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has some familiarity with him. The Jets are in the market for a starting right tackle. Maurice Williams (Jaguars) is also on their radar.

Pace, 6-5, 270 pounds, is coming off a breakout season in Arizona. A big-time pass-rusher, he had 98 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks last season.

The Jets need help in the secondary as well, at cornerback and safety. Last offseason, Gay, who also plays safety, visited the Jets as a restricted free agent but stayed with the Patriots. New England is making a strong bid to retain him.

Wilson, a former starter on the Patriots' Super Bowl teams, and James, the Eagles' third cornerback, are considered solid players.

Note: Former Jets S Erik Coleman signed with the Falcons.

That person also said that coach Eric Mangini made an 11th-hour plea to cornerback Asante Samuel to delay signing with the Eagles and come in for a visit. Samuel, however, declined, telling Mangini the Jets entered the bidding too late. It was initially believed the Jets had no plans to pursue Samuel.

The Eagles had a deal in place way before FA began,lol. And they accused the Jets of tampering with AS?

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Jets Give Faneca a Record Deal

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Published: March 2, 2008

The Jets and the seven-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca agreed to the richest free-agent contract in team history Saturday, according to Faneca

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Time for Jets to get Randy Moss


daily news sports writer

Sunday, March 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM

When Bill Parcells sat down with his lieutenants to plot the 1998 offseason for the Jets, they compiled a 10-item wish list. Seventh on the agenda was running back, hardly a priority with Adrian Murrell coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season.

One unexpected thing led to another, and soon the Jets were introducing Curtis Martin at a press conference. They made like midnight thieves, executing a stealthy, free-agent heist as Parcells' previous team snoozed. It changed the balance of power in the rivalry, and it didn't shift the other way until Bill Belichick and Tom Brady got going in 2001.

These days, the gap with the New England spy boys never has been wider, and now Mike Tannenbaum - in the room with Parcells that day in '98 - has to figure out a way to make it competitive again. He needs to pull a Curtis Martin out of his hat, the way his mentor did a decade ago. Unless Tannenbaum can convince Gisele Bundchen to make Tom Brady run away with her and give up football, there's only one way to do it.

Get Randy Moss.

The record-setting receiver is an unrestricted free agent and, although he's negotiating with the Patriots, the two sides aren't close to a deal, according to ESPN. Moss is out there, willing to be wooed. The Jets should pick up the phone and start wooing.

Will it happen? Probably not.

Although Tannenbaum was vague Friday night when asked about the possibility of pursuing Moss ("We're going to proceed with our plan," he said), the Jets have no interest, I'm told. They should.

Imagine Moss with Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery at wide receiver, with Thomas Jones and dynamic rookie Darren McFadden (just speculating here, folks) in the backfield, and with Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca galvanizing the offensive line.

More importantly, imagine the Patriots without Moss.

I know what you're thinking: Moss would have to be insane to leave Brady and his comfy cocoon in New England. Fair point, but money talks. If the Jets can give $20 million in guarantees to Kris Jenkins, a 340-pound nose tackle who hasn't dominated in five years, they can cough up that kind of coin for Moss.

Yes, the Jets have an unsettled quarterback situation, which would scare most premier receivers, but this situation is unique. Moss and Chad Pennington are former college teammates and are close friends. Moss thinks the world of Pennington. And Pennington lobbied the Jets' front office last spring when the Raiders put Moss on the trading block.

The Jets showed no interest then, and they probably won't show any interest now. Like Tannenbaum said, they will proceed with the plan. But sometimes you have to abandon the plan, like they did a decade ago, when Parcells called an audible and everything changed between the Jets and Patriots.

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4 years before scandal, Herm Edwards waved to Bill Belichick's camera

by Gary Myers

Sunday, March 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM

Herm Edwards is now in Kansas City and Donnie Henderson is now in Jacksonville, but they starred in a movie together in 2004 when they worked together with the Jets.

It was a Bill Belichick production called SpyGate: The Early Years.

And to show Belichick they were aware of his shenanigans, Edwards and Henderson looked right into the camera across the sideline and waved hello.

Years before Belichick had his video assistant turn the cameras on the Jets in the season opener last year that officially began SpyGate, he was illegally videotaping the Jets' defensive signals. Roger Goodell indicated Belichick was doing this at least as far back as 2000, when he arrived as the Patriots' coach.

Sources told the Daily News that early in a game against the Patriots four years ago, Edwards, in his fourth season as Jets coach, and Henderson, in his first year as the defensive coordinator, noticed a Patriots camera from the opposite sideline aimed at them to tape the defensive signals.

Edwards had made the proper adjustments before the game to avoid Belichick stealing the defensive signals. They went into the game knowing this was a practice Belichick employed and when they saw the camera, they put on a show. That story has been making the rounds in the league the last few days.

"I will leave that one alone," Edwards said from the Chiefs' offices. "No comment."

"I respectfully decline to comment on it," Henderson added from the Jaguars' offices.

This apparently was among the six tapes Belichick turned over to the league that Goodell had destroyed in September. Edwards is friends with Belichick and they speak often. Edwards apparently didn't think much was to be gained by the Patriots spying because he never turned in New England to the league office. The Patriots beat the Jets twice in 2004 - 13-7 in Foxborough and 23-7 at Giants Stadium.

The Daily News reported in September that the Jets were aware of Belichick's passion for videospying long before former Patriots assistant Eric Mangini switched sides in the Border War and became the Jets' coach.

"At times, we would wave at the guy that was filming over there," a member of that Jets staff said in September. "We just gave false signals and waved at the camera. I don't know if they picked up our signals or not. We didn't really worry about it too much."

At the Super Bowl, Goodell told the NFL Network, "One of the coaches was actually waving at the camera, so it's clear that teams, to me, recognize that taking signals from another team is something that they do, so they have very complex systems to make sure that they don't allow their plays to be intercepted."

The Jets compensated for Belichick's attempts to steal the signals by using a second coach, in addition to Henderson, to signal in the plays, with one of them relaying the real play and the other sending in a dummy signal. They also sent in plays by using the messenger system. And they occasionally called defensive formations using a number on a wristband worn by the middle linebacker. The wristband was changed every quarter.

SpyGate is going to haunt the NFL until Goodell finds a way to question former Pats video assistant Matt Walsh. If Walsh has tape of the Rams' walkthrough from the day before the Super Bowl six years ago, then newly hired assistant Dom Capers could be coaching the Patriots in 2008. But in discussing SpyGate with the Boston Globe a few weeks ago, Belichick denied he has ever taped another's team practice.

"In my entire coaching career, I've never seen another team's practice film prior to playing that team," Belichick said.

If Walsh has something that takes SpyGate to another level, it's time to see it. Give him whatever immunity he wants in return for producing evidence.

But doesn't Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) have better things to do with his time and our money? Can you imagine this getting as far as a congressional hearing with us, the taxpayers, paying the bill to bring Belichick to Capitol Hill? Goodell certainty made it seem like a cover-up when he had the Spygate evidence destroyed. To restore confidence that he's not just looking for this to go away, he must find out what Walsh has to say.

Tom Super rich

The Giants, as the Daily News reported on the day of their wild-card game, made the decision they were going to offer Tom Coughlin a long-term extension when they clinched a playoff spot. If the Giants were eliminated in the wild-card round for the third year in a row, Coughlin would have been offered a deal averaging $4 million per year. Instead, the four-year deal he's about to sign is worth $5.25 million per year. So the Super Bowl made him an extra $5 million in addition to the six-figure incentive he earned in the playoff run. ... Assuming all the parking logistics are worked out as expected, the Giants will have the honor as Super Bowl champs of hosting the stand-alone season opener on Thursday night, Sept. 4. Since the NFL is all about drama and TV ratings, the Cowboys should be the only team considered as the opponent. ... Obviously, the Eagles didn't bother watching Super Bowl tapes before they signed Patriots CB Asante Samuel and made him extremely rich. ... The Bucs went into free agency $44 million under the $116 million salary cap. That gives Jon Gruden the opportunity to pay a lot of money to a bunch of mediocre free agents.

Jets throw green around

Last year, the Jets blew up their offensive line chemistry when they refused to give Pete Kendall an extra $1 million and traded him to Washington. Now all of a sudden they can't give away their money fast enough. Kris Jenkins is getting $20 million guaranteed as part of the five-year, $35 million deal he got when he was traded from the Panthers and they are giving $21 million guaranteed to Alan Faneca, who plays the same spot at Kendall, as part of his five-year, $40 million deal. Jenkins is 28 and Faneca is 31, not exactly a youth movement. Jenkins, who used to be one of the best DTs in the league, will now play nose tackle. Faneca may be the NFL's best guard. ... John Abraham, Jonathan Vilma and Dewayne Robertson, first-round picks in the last eight drafts, were supposed to be the foundation of the Jets' defense for a long time. Abraham and Vilma have been traded and Robertson is next. Mangini's biggest mistake has been forcing his personnel to fit his scheme rather than adjusting his scheme to fit the personnel. ... The Giants will miss Kawika Mitchell, who made a lot of big plays down the stretch, including a big sack of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.

The hot rumor is the Cowboys will try to fly up the board by packaging the Nos. 22 and 28 picks to get running back Darren McFadden (he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine), who played at Arkansas, which is Jerry Jones' school. Offering two first-rounders and RB Marion Barber should get a discussion started with Bill Parcells in Miami, although Parcells should stay put and take Boston College QB Matt Ryan with the first overall pick. ... The draft is still about two months away but it seems there's a good chance McFadden could fall to the Jets at No. 6. Needing the firepower, that pick would be a no-brainer.

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Jets sign Alan Faneca to richest free-agent deal in team history



Updated Saturday, March 1st 2008, 6:55 PM


At 12:01 a.m. Friday, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum made a $40 million phone call to Alan Faneca's agent.

Striking in the first minute of the free-agent signing period, Tannenbaum made official contact with the agent and the Jets landed their man. Ending one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL, the former Steelers guard agreed to terms Saturday on a five-year, $40 million contract with the Jets, according to agent Rick Smith. It will make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league.

Faneca, 31, who has made the Pro Bowl in seven of his 10 seasons, is scheduled to be in New York today to sign the deal, pending a physical. The contract includes $21 million in guarantees, topping Chad Pennington's team-record $20 million in 2004. It's the biggest free-agent contract in Jets history, based on the average per year.

"They were very aggressive in their pursuit, very convincing," Smith told the Daily News, saying offers from the 49ers and Rams were "pretty equal" to that of the Jets. "He felt it was the right move for him."

A Jets spokesman said the team had no comment on the deal. In a span of 24 hours, the Jets doled out $41 million in guarantees to Faneca and former Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, acquired in a trade for draft picks. And owner Woody Johnson still hasn't put away the checkbook.

Intent on improving the offensive line, the weak link in last season's 4-12 debacle, the Jets remain very interested in the Lions' Damien Woody, 30, a longtime guard who switched to right tackle late last season. Woody, due to arrive today for a free-agent visit, could be a replacement for right tackle Anthony Clement. The Jets also covet Cardinals outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who was scheduled to arrive yesterday for a visit. Pace, who recorded seven sacks in his first season as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense, also is considering the Dolphins, setting up a possible bidding war against Bill Parcells.

The Faneca-to-the-Jets move was a virtual done deal from the outset of free agency, as reported Friday by The News. Left guard was a major issue last season when the Jets traded Pete Kendall to the Redskins after a summer-long contract dispute. They thought the unproven Adrien Clarke could replace Kendall, a miscalculation that hampered the entire line. Clarke, who started 14 games, was waived earlier in the week. Faneca (6-5, 307) is regarded as a better run blocker than pass protector. In the running game, he plays with a mean streak and textbook technique. He's known for his toughness and leadership, qualities that should rub off on the entire offense, especially left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

COLEMAN GONE: Former Jets FS Erik Coleman, an unrestricted free agent, signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Falcons.

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March 2, 2008 -- Give the Jets credit for learning from their mistakes.

They played it cheap a year ago and paid for their frugality in a big way when their left guard situation turned into a disaster area amid a 4-12 nightmare season. The Jets yesterday took a dramatic and expensive step to ensure that problem is a thing of the past, as they agreed to terms with guard Alan Faneca, opening the floodgates on a mega-deal that makes the former Steelers stalwart the NFL's highest-paid offensive lineman.

The Jets did not cut any corners on this one, aggressively pursuing Faneca the moment free agency arrived and overwhelming him with a staggering five-year, $40 million package that includes $21 million in guaranteed money. It is the richest free-agent contract in Jets history.

The Jets, Rams and 49ers all came up with nearly identical financial packages to woo Faneca.

"It really was a gut feeling," Rick Smith, Faneca's agent, told The Post. "He looked at the entire situation, the Jets looked like a team two years ago that was one of the ascending teams in the league. They had a little blip last year."

A day after they traded for massive defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to plug in at nose tackle, the Jets took a huge step in strengthening their offensive line.

Faneca is a 10-year veteran and a key member of a Pittsburgh line that yearly produced in the running game. Faneca for the past seven consecutive seasons was voted into the Pro Bowl.

It came down to where he wanted to play. Prior to making the decision, Smith yesterday said, "Everyone's speculating the Jets because of the three teams they've clearly been the most aggressive."

Faneca will be in New York today to take a physical and sign the contract.

The Jets will now stick Faneca between youngsters D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold and expect him to be an impact player on the field and in the locker room. At 31, he should have plenty of productive years left on his body, even though he takes medication to keep his epilepsy under control.

"With Alan Faneca you're not just buying a left guard," Smith said. "He is going to come in and be the leader he is."

The Jets last season refused to re-do the contract of Pete Kendall, resulting in the trade of Kendall after a contentious contract dispute and a continual struggle at left guard with the ill-fated Adrien Clarke experiment. Faneca is a proven commodity, as the Jets landed one of the top free agents on the market.

Consider this a two-day coup for general manager Mike Tannenbaum, whose aggressiveness at the start of the free-agent signing period resulted in plenty of player movement.

Surely, the Jets aren't done. They have inquired about Chargers right tackle Shane Olivea, according to his agent, Kenny Zuckerman. Olivea, a three-year starter in San Diego, is a Long Island guy (grew up in Cedarhurst, went to Lawrence High School) who went to Ohio State and would be a solid pickup.

There's also reported interest in linebacker Calvin Pace, who had 61/2 sacks last season for the Cardinals. Pace spent yesterday meeting with Jets officials.


With Gibril Wilson gone for riches in Oakland, a safety stopgap could be 32-year old Sammy Knight, a durable 11-year veteran who yesterday met with the Broncos in Denver and will soon pay a visit to the Giants. . . . After losing two linebackers, Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor on the first day of free agency, the Giants have expressed interest in Steelers LB Clark Haggans. . . . The Giants are one of at least 10 teams to inquire about receiver Javon Walker, who was released last week by the Broncos. . . . Scratch one safety off the list, as ex-Jet Erik Coleman signed with the Falcons.


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Faneca, 6-5, 307 pounds, was the top guard on the market. But it was thought the Jets would have trouble attracting top free agents coming off a 4-12 finish last season -- not to mention the stories about Mangini's unrelenting training camps and practices.

"Alan believes in that," said Smith. "I made him well aware of the way coach Mangini wants things done. He thinks that's what it takes to win."

This made me very happy. Maybe someone should send this over to Coles.

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