Jets may sack QB Chad today


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Jan 22, 2006
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Jets may sack QB Chad today
Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

The Jets' tumultuous offseason already has claimed the coach and general manager. Today, we'll find out if the quarterback goes, too.

After months of speculation and a week of negotiations that may continue up until today's deadline, Chad Pennington's contract situation finally will be resolved. If he doesn't agree to a pay cut - as of last night, it was too uncertain to call - he will be released, a move that would dramatically alter the direction of the franchise.

The Jets' new regime is in a housecleaning mode (seven players were cut last week), and the overhaul could claim more bodies today, including Kevin Mawae. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said he was informed yesterday by GM Mike Tannenbaum that the club likely will part ways with the six-time Pro Bowl center.

Technically, the Jets don't have to make any cuts to get under the $94.5 million salary cap by tomorrow's deadline. Quietly, they got under the cap by restructuring contracts, including those of Laveranues Coles and Shaun Ellis, it was learned. Mawae's situation apparently goes beyond money. At 35, recovering from a torn triceps, he doesn't fit into new coach Eric Mangini's rebuilding plan. Mawae was given permission recently to seek a trade, and he took that as a sign that he's no longer wanted.

The Jets want Pennington, but it has to be on their terms. He's scheduled to make $9 million, including a $3 million roster bonus due tomorrow. The Jets, concerned about his twice-repaired throwing shoulder, don't want to pay the bonus.

On Tuesday, Pennington said he wanted to remain with the Jets, expressing optimism the two sides could find a "middle ground." Initially, the Jets wanted to slash his salary to $1 million, a jarring proposal that left some in the Pennington camp thinking the Jets were hellbent on cutting the 29-year-old quarterback. But last weekend, in a meeting with Pennington's agent, Tom Condon, Tannenbaum sweetened the offer. The negotiations "took a few steps forward," according to Pennington. But, as of yesterday, some industry sources still felt Pennington's return wasn't a slam dunk.

Privately, the Jets say they're prepared to start over at quarterback. It would be a surprise if they give Pennington more than $3 million in guarantees in a reworked contract. Pennington, coming off two shoulder operations in an eight-month span, isn't likely to generate much interest on the open market.

If the Jets cut Pennington, they would take a $12 million cap hit, but they would realize a net savings of $3 million. A possible landing spot would be Kansas City, where he'd be reunited with former Jets coach Herm Edwards.

The Jets will save $1.1 million by releasing Mawae, one of the best players in team history. The Eagles, who have plenty of cap room, are planning to pursue him.

"Nothing is official, but I got a sense from talking to (the Jets) that Kevin will be a free agent," Bartelstein said. "I think they've made the decision to retool and start over."

Others on the bubble are Pete Kendall ($5.2 million cap number), David Barrett ($3.8 million) and Eric Barton ($3.8 million), each of whom is due a large roster bonus tomorrow.
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