Feb 22, 3:48 PM EST
Jets Part With Law, Rework Martin's Pact
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets slashed their payroll Wednesday by restructuring Curtis Martin's contract, parting with Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law and cutting a host of other veterans, including quarterback Jay Fiedler, offensive tackle Jason Fabini and fullback Jerald Sowell.
The team is about $26 million over the salary cap and must be at or under the cap by March 3, the opening day of free agency.
The deal with the 32-year-old Martin, the NFL's fourth leading career rusher, was expected. The NFL's top rusher in 2004 underwent arthroscopic injury on his right knee in December and finished the season with 730 yards rushing and a 3.3 average. He was trying to become the first player in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his first 11 years.
Martin may be one of the few high-profile survivors in the a cap-forced purge by new coach Eric Mangini although it is likely that the Jets will draft a running back for the future in April.
They are still negotiating with quarterback Chad Pennington, who twice in the last two years had rotator cuff surgery, in an attempt to reduce a cap number that could be as high as $12 million.
These latest moves came a day after the Jets designated defensive end John Abraham their franchise player at $8.3 million, although they may try to trade him.
Martin was the only Jet to attend the news conference at which Eric Mangini was introduced as coach last month.
"I have always had the highest regard for him both as an individual and as one of the fiercest and most determined athletes in the game," said Mangini, adding he considered him an important team leader.
Also cut were three reserves: linebacker Barry Gardner, defensive tackle Lance Legree and wide receiver Harry Williams Jr.
The team said Law and the team agreed to part ways - he would have been due $11 million to trigger the final three years of his contract, something the Jets could hardly afford under the cap. The 32-year-old cornerback spent his first 10 seasons with New England and tied for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions last season.
"We were very fortunate to have a player of Ty's caliber in 2005," new general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "Ty is a warrior and a class act and we appreciate his contributions this past season."
Fiedler, who signed with the team last season, injured his shoulder seven plays after Pennington was hurt in the third game last season and did not play again.
Fabini and Sowell are longtime starters - Fabini started his first 114 games at offensive tackle until he tore a chest muscle Nov. 18 and was lost for the season. Sowell played for nine seasons.