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Monday, March 3, 2008
Woody gives Jets four former first-round draft picks on O-line

By Michael Smith
ESPN.com

Having already solidified the left side of their offensive line with the addition of former Steelers standout guard Alan Faneca, the New York Jets have now bolstered their right side, agreeing to terms with former Patriots and Lions lineman Damien Woody to play right tackle.

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The Jets have spared no expense in improving their offensive line in the first week of free agency. Faneca signed a five-year, $40 million deal that included more than $21 million in guarantees, making him the league's highest paid offensive lineman. Now the Jets have given Woody $25.5 million over five years with $11 million guaranteed.

Faneca and Woody, along with left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold, give the Jets four former first round picks along their offensive line.

Woody spent the first five years of his career as a center/guard with the Patriots, so joining the Jets means a reunion with head coach Eric Mangini.

In 2004, Woody signed a six-year, $31 million deal with the Lions, then the largest ever for an interior lineman. Toward the end of a disappointing four-year stint in Detroit, Woody moved to right tackle and was impressive enough in five starts to earn an even more lucrative contract from the Jets.

"I think his versatility was one of the hallmarks of what we were looking for," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.

Woody started 76 games with New England, mostly at center, and helped the Patriots to two Super Bowls, although he didn't play against Carolina in 2004 because of a knee injury.

The Lions signed him to a $31 million, six-year contract with a $9 million signing bonus following that season. Woody and his agent, Ben Dogra, agreed to give up $2.5 million in salary this season -- more than half of what he was due to make -- in exchange for voiding the last two years of his deal.

"I'm ecstatic to be with the Jets," Woody said in a statement. "I am familiar with Eric Mangini and [quarterbacks coach] Brian Daboll and it feels good to be reunited with them. I am looking forward to returning to the AFC East and contributing to this team."

Woody started the first three games at right guard last season before being benched by the Lions. After three games on the inactive list, he slowly worked his way onto the field as a reserve, and then became the starter at right tackle.

"Damien is a versatile player that has experience at a number of positions," Mangini said. "I spent four seasons with Damien in New England and know that he is a diligent performer with a good work ethic."

The Jets have also signed defensive tackle Sione Pouha to a three-year contract extension and fullback Stacy Tutt to an exclusive-rights contract.

Michael Smith is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.