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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Jets sign DB Leonhard to deal

By John Clayton

Rex Ryan lured his second starter from the Baltimore Ravens when the Jets reached a three-year deal with safety Jim Leonhard on Tuesday.


The financial terms of the deal weren't available. Leonhard is joining linebacker Bart Scott, who signed a six-year, $48 million contract last weekend with the Jets.

Leonhard, 26, came to the Ravens last year and established himself as a value safety for Ryan's defense in Baltimore. Ryan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator until he accepted the head coaching job with the Jets.

"I am extremely excited to become a New York Jet," Leonhard said in a statement. "Obviously, to be reunited with coach Ryan and coach [Mike] Pettine on the defensive side of the ball is a great opportunity. I am really excited to get in there this first year with coach Ryan and hopefully help do some great things."

In 16 games with the Ravens last year, Leonhard, who is 5-foot-8, 186 pounds, had 69 tackles and returned one interception for a touchdown. He visited the Jets during the weekend and left without a contract.

Ravens pick six Video

Ravens DB Jim Leonhard intercepts a Jordan Palmer pass and returns it for a touchdown.

The deal was worked out Tuesday morning.

Ryan had high praise for Leonhard after the free-agent period began.

"Jim Leonhard is special," Ryan said. "No. 1, he looks like the guy delivering papers. He really is a smart player. He has a lot of poise. He's very sure of himself.

"For some reason he gets saddled because he's short, but this guy's an outstanding athlete. He won two slam-dunk contests at the University of Wisconsin. He's an outstanding punt returner. I've always said he could catch a punt in a hurricane.

"He's a smart, tough, passionate guy. You try to build your team with those kinds of players."

John Clayton covers the NFL for's Tim Graham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.