Jets winning battles with Washington, Jones

June, 1, 2009
6/01/09
5:53
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Rookie head coach Rex Ryan remarked last week the New York Jets now feel like his football team.

He must feel even more in control with two of his most important guys back on the field with their mates.

Running back Leon Washington reported for Monday's practice, putting him on the field with Thomas Jones for the first time this offseason. Jones finally turned up last week.

The developments portend well for the Jets. The Pro Bowlers are unhappy with their contracts, but their individual decisions to show for workouts represent boardroom victories for general manager Mike Tannenbaum and allow the offense to develop as smoothly as possible for whichever quarterback wins the job.

Washington almost certainly will receive a new deal. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract. His base salary will be $535,000, modest pay for a playmaker who has proven dangerous on offense and in the return game.

"Leon is excited about finishing the off-season program off strong and is very much 'hopeful' that we can come to terms on a fair market deal," Washington's agent, Alvin Keels, wrote Monday on his Twitter page.

Jones, coming off one of the greatest seasons by a Jets running back, also might get a new deal, although the chances are slim.

Jones will turn 31 before the season. He has played only half of a four-year contract that already has paid him $13.1 million. He doesn't like the fact his base salary will be only $900,000 despite leading the AFC in rushing last year, and he's assuming he won't receive a $3 million roster bonus due next spring.

In other words, Jones isn't a part of the Jets' long-range plans.

But having Jones and Washington at organized team activities is important for the future.

Their presence ensures an honest quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens. And, with all of the Jets' weaponry at his disposal, Sanchez has the best opportunity to learn and grow.

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