Center Kevin Mawae is not smiling tonight as he is officially unemployed while Chad Pennington will continue to wear green. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets announced this evening what everyone has know for days by officially releasing six time Pro-Bowl center, Kevin Mawae and also announcing that the contracts of QB Chad Pennington and G Pete Kendall have been re-structured and both will stay with the team.
Mawae, 35, who played his last eight seasons with the Jets before spending his first four seasons with Seattle is free to sign with any team. The move was quite a shock for many considering his overall durability and talent. The move will reportedly save the Jets a little over $1MM towards this year’s salary cap.
The team also announced they have re-worked guard Pete Kendall’s contract which included an extension. Kendall, 32, who signed with the Jets in 2004 after being waived from Arizona will now likely move to center full time now that Mawae is gone. He played there for 10 games this past season after Mawae suffered a triceps injury and was lost for the season.
The details of Pennington’s new contract were not available, but the new deal will reportedly bring significant cap relief this season and beyond. Pennington was slated to earn in excess of $9MM this season and reportedly his new deal will cut that number at least in half. As of today, the team needed to shave a reported $11MM in salary to comply with the $94MM salary cap. The moves announced today brings them in compliance with the cap.
Pennington, who is coming off of two rotator cuff surgeries in the past 15 months hypothetically was in jeopardy of being released if he has not re-worked his deal. However, with a $12MM escalated cap hit to the Jets coming if he was cut, everyone was fairly confident that the sides would work something out.
Pennington is reportedly is making progress in his rehabilitation but no one knows if he will be ready to play this season. The team is rumored to be very interested in Bengals’ free agent QB Jon Kitna, who becomes an unrestricted free agent tonight as a safety net for Pennington. Kitna will reportedly visit with the Jets as early as tomorrow. The team may also draft a QB in this year’s draft.
“I said when I took over the head coaching job that I respected and admired Chad as a person and a competitor,” said Head Coach Eric Mangini in a statement released by the team. “Through words and deeds, Chad has stated how important it is for him to remain with the Jets. He is a smart, tough, competitive, hard-working football player and has demonstrated he is willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team. We are constantly looking for players who place the accomplishments of the Jets ahead of individual goals, and Chad is an excellent example.”
There have also been rumblings about franchise player DE John Abraham on his way to being dealt with Atlanta, Minnesota, Detroit and Denver as possible suitors but nothing imminent is on the horizon. The Jets reportedly will not accept anything less than a upper first round pick at minimum in exchange for Abraham.
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