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News » Jets get a cold shoulder


Jets get a cold shoulder


Jets get a cold shoulder
The Jets now have two disgruntled running backs.


Pro Bowl kick returner Leon Washington, who doubles as a dynamic, game-breaking running back, skipped the start of yesterday's organized team activities in Florham Park because he's unhappy with his contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

That person requested anonymity because he's not authorized to speak for the Jets or Washington.

Veteran running back Thomas Jones, who led the AFC in rushing last season with 1,312 yards and scored a career-high 13 rushing touchdowns, has boycotted the voluntary sessions all offseason.

The Jets have a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 9-11 and it will be interesting to see if Washington and Jones attend. Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has repeatedly said he expects Jones to attend.

Last month, the Jets drafted hard-charging rookie running back Shonn Greene as the possible heir to Jones, and Greene feels he can step right in if Jones stages a holdout. Both are physical, between-the-tackle runners.

But the Jets have no one on the roster to replace the electric, multi-dimensional Washington, who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field and in a variety of ways. He can take it to the house as a kickoff and punt returner, a running back and a receiver.

Washington, entering his fourth NFL season, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn a $535,000 base salary in 2009. He's believed to be seeking a long-term deal worth roughly $6 million per season.

Washington's agent, Alvin Keels, did not return several phone calls and e-mails yesterday. It's unlikely Washington will play this season without a new contract.

Chargers running back Darren Sproles, whom Washington has been compared to, signed a one-year, $6.621 million deal this offseason as his team's franchise player. Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, another player similar to Washington, signed a four-year, $32.8 million contract extension last month that included $17.5 million guaranteed.

All three players are triple threats who can score on running plays, passing plays and returning kicks. There are only a handful of those players in the NFL.

Negotiations between Keels and the Jets have been ongoing and Washington recently sounded optimistic that something would get done. But discussions have hit a snag.

A person close to Washington called the Jets' initial offer "insulting," which has led Washington to stop attending the voluntary sessions. He had previously said he would attend the workouts while negotiations continued.

"The Jets traditionally have done the right thing with guys that play well for the organization," Washington said recently, pointing to new deals signed by wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and safety Kerry Rhodes. "I put the work in and hopefully it pays off for me sooner rather than later."

Last season, Washington, 26, led the NFL and set a franchise record with 2,332 all-purpose yards and scored nine touchdowns.

He rushed for 448 yards and six touchdowns on 76 carries, including three scoring runs of 47, 60 and 61 yards. He caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets were criticized for underutilizing him.

As a returner, Washington averaged 25.6 yards and scored one touchdown (92 yards against the Patriots) on 48 kickoff returns. He averaged 10.4 yards on 29 punt returns.

* The Jets re-signed veteran TE Bubba Franks, a person with knowledge of the signing told The Star-Ledger yesterday. Franks is believed to have signed a one-year deal.

Franks, entering his 10th NFL season, played last year with the Jets after spending his first eight seasons with the Packers. He missed seven games with a hip injury, finishing with just six catches for 47 yards and no touchdowns.

The Jets are thin at tight end after releasing Chris Baker. Oddly, the Jets need a blocking tight end to complement Dustin Keller and Franks is primarily a receiver. Franks, 31, has 262 career receptions for 2,347 yards and 32 touchdowns.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 13, 2009

Justin Miller Name: Justin Miller
#21
Position: CB
Age: 24
Experience: 4 years
College: Clemson
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