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Jets could replace Brad Smith with CFL ace

The New York Jets might already have Brad Smith's replacement in mind.

The Jets reportedly are negotiating with Chad Owens, a star kick returner in the Canadian Football League.

Owens also worked out for the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His agent told the Toronto Star the Jets have his interest, but said he might remain with the Toronto Argonauts.

Smith is a popular player because of his ability to break a big play in multiple ways. Smith averaged 7.9 yards per carry, ran for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season.

But Smith's about to become an unrestricted free agent. There are no guarantees he'll be back.

Owens amassed 2,701 return yards -- almost 1,000 more than his closest competitor -- last season for Toronto. He averaged 22.9 yards on kickoffs and 12.6 yards on punts with a pair of touchdowns. He also caught 46 passes for 576 yards and three touchdowns.

The 5-foot-7 Owens saw snippets of action over three seasons with the Jaguars, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2005 and kept him around on the practice squad.

Jim Leonhard was the Jets' punt returner, averaging a decent 11.3 yards per attempt. He suffered a broken leg in early December.

The Dolphins are interested in Owens because they need to punch up their return game. Rookie cornerback Nolan Carroll averaged a respectable 24.3 yards per kickoff return, but they ranked 22nd as a team at 21.8 yards.

The Dolphins tied for 13th on punt returns at 10.5 yards, with Davone Bess averaging 11.4 yards.