- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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After the morning walkthrough, Jets players filed off the practice field in Florham Park to news that defensive end Shaun Eliis, one of the longest-tenured Jets going into his 12th season, had just signed with the Patriots.
"Did he?" asked Jets safety Eric Smith. “I really like Shaun. He was a great teammate. I was hoping they'd be able to work out the money, but he has to do what's best for him and his family. We'd have liked to have him here. He'll be missed. And it will be weird. I'm so used to seeing him in green-and-white.”
Pending a physical, the 34-year-old Ellis will don the navy blue of the Jets' AFC East rival this season. Ellis has had some of his best games in New England, including last season in the playoffs. But the Jets only offered Ellis the league minimun of $910,000 for a one-year deal to return. Terms of the Patriots contract are not yet available.
“Man, Shaun Ellis is a brother of mine,” DT Sione Pouha said. “He had to make the best decision that he (could) in his circumstance and his situation. So he’s up in New England. We’re here with the Jets. I think more importantly we’re just concentrating on the guys that we have. Obviously we have great players with Kenrick (Ellis) and with Mo (Wilkerson). Those guys are coming in and fitting in great.”
Rookie DT Kenrick Ellis said that he was aware of what Shaun meant to the team, and would do his best to keep up the level of play in the defensive line.
“I heard about Shaun Ellis and then Trevor Pryce and everything they contributed to the organization,” Kenrick Ellis told SNY. “I hove no problem coming in and doing as best I can in filling those holes.”
OL Rob Turner, who would go up against Shaun Ellis in practice and at camp, said that at least the Jets will have his tendencies down, uh, pat when these teams face each other at least twice a year.
”Shaun is a good player and if he’s with them this year and we face him, we’ve kind of got a book built on the guy already you had to see him every day in practice,” Turner said. “But it’s a business and that’s the league. Guys move, very rarely do guys play their entire career at one place so you just got to wish him the best and beat him when we see him on Sunday.”
A few Jets joked that plenty of Jets have gotten invitations to join the Patriots, such as Chris Baker and Danny Woodhead. “It seems like the Patriots love Jets players,” OL Matt Slauson said. “I think it’s because (coach Bill) Belichick up there wants some insights.”
Another Jet joked that Ellis might want to hold back some of the good information so that he doesn’t get cut before Week 1, when salaries are guaranteed.
But several mentioned that they still respect Ellis despite going to a rival, given the nature of the negotiations between the Jets and one of their longest-serving players.
“I mean there are ramifications of the rivalry and the divisional chaos that we have between each other,” Pouha said. “But at the end of the day you respect the decision that the person has. We had Baker go over there a few years ago, same situation. You respect the decision and you just carry on.”