Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Jets offer Shaun Ellis one-year deal
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets say they want to re-sign defensive end Shaun Ellis, their longest-tenured player, but they apparently aren't willing to pay much to make it happen.
The Jets have made a one-year offer for the veterans' minimum of $910,000, according to Ellis' agent, Mitch Frankel.
"He's weighing his options," Frankel said in a phone interview, declining to say whether Ellis has attracted interest from other teams.
Ellis, 34, is one of the most accomplished defensive players in Jets history, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with 73 career sacks. No player in team history has appeared in more playoff games than Ellis, who played one of his best games ever in last season's divisional-round upset over the New England Patriots.
Frankel declined to say whether Ellis feels insulted by the Jets' offer. Ellis made $3.35 million last season, the final year of an extension he signed in November 2004. This is the first time in his career that he's an unrestricted free agent.
"There's nothing he'd rather do than finish his career as a Jet," Frankel said.
The Jets used their first-round pick to select Ellis' heir apparent, Muhammad Wilkerson, who has been working with the starting unit in training camp. Coach Rex Ryan has praised Wilkerson, saying he expects the former Temple standout to be the opening-day starter. Ryan said he'd like to bring back Ellis, although he made it clear that his playing time would be reduced.
Ellis has expressed frustration in the past about his contract situation. Before the 2010 season, he was rebuffed when he approached the front office about a contract extension.
Word of the minimum-salary offer to Ellis comes after perhaps the biggest spending week in team history. The Jets re-signed wide receiver Santonio Holmes, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker David Harris to contracts totaling $118 million.
Ellis is one of seven unrestricted free agents on the Jets, but none of the others comes close to Ellis in terms of years of service -- 11. He was a first-round pick in 2000.
His production slipped last season -- his 4½-sack total was his lowest since an injury-shortened 2005 -- but he played most of the defensive snaps and came up huge against the Patriots in the playoffs, sacking Tom Brady twice. Fellow lineman Trevor Pryce, a 14-year veteran, said of Ellis' performance, "The best game I've ever seen a defensive lineman play, period."
The Jets are in the midst of rebuilding their defensive line. They drafted Wilkerson and nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (third round) and they're planning to work young veterans Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua into the rotation.
Meanwhile, the Jets re-signed safety Brodney Pool on Wednesday to a one-year contract, a league source confirmed. The Jets now have their top three safeties from last season under contract: Pool, Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith, who re-signed last week for $7.5 million over three years.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.