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FA 'Business as Usual' with a Stop at the Mall


Tense moments during the daylong negotiations between the Jets and Bart Scott's agent? Not that Mike Tannenbaum or Rex Ryan noticed.

Media reports in the mid-afternoon suggested that agent Harold Lewis was suddenly talking with the Ravens to try to get a bidding war started. But the Jets' GM said that's not what he saw from his end of the news story that brought the Ravens' dynamic ILB to the Jets at the end of the day.

"Without getting into specifics, I did hear about those reports. It was really pretty much business as usual for the first day of free agency," Tannenbaum said in tonight's conference call with reporters. "We were in constant contact with the agent. Harold Lewis did a great job. Bart was either with Rex most of the day or getting his physical.

"It was a normal busy first day of free agency."

Ryan didn't notice any turbulence because he wasn't in on the negotiations. He, Scott and Jets DC Mike Pettine spent a lot of quality time together. They started out watching video on the first floor of the Atlantic Health Training Center. Then they got bored.

"I said, 'Guys, let's go to the mall,' " the coach said. "Plus, I was trying to show off the Short Hills Mall. I'm hoping to get a discount now that I've mentioned it. We were walking around — shoot, you can get a workout just walking that mall.

"Bart is really into fashion. So he's pointing out all these watches. I'm trying to get a belt for my son and he said, 'Nah, wait for this other brand. It's coming out in a few weeks.' "

From gym rats to mall rats. When that activity got played, the three returned to the complex and were about to watch some Ultimate Fighting videos when they got word that it was time to sign some paperwork.

"These contracts are not one-line deals," Rex said. "There's sixty pages of stuff. It's like you're buying a house — which I'm very familiar with right now."

Asked if there was ever a doubt that Scott would sign a Jets contract today, Ryan didn't hesitate: "No. None at all. None whatsoever."

Ryan was asked why Bart Scott over Ray Lewis, since both were available free agents today. That can be like asking a father to pick one son over another, but the candid coach, after paying homage to Lewis' Hall of Fame career, mentioned Scott's age for one thing, his coverage skills for another, and his positional flexibility for a third reason.

"We think Bart fits us, gives us a lot of flexibility," Ryan said. "He can play Will linebacker and Mike linebacker. I think Ray is obviously the premier middle linebacker in the game, but I think with the flexibility we have with David Harris and Bart Scott, it's going to be difficult to identify who the Mike 'backer is. That doesn't sound like that big a deal, but believe me, it is."

We believe, of course. And we also like the bold statements that Rex tends to offer. He had a few more before signing off of his conference call.

He said that adding Scott to Harris and OLBs Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas gives the Jets "a linebacker corps that overall is probably as good a linebacker corps as there is in the league, right up there with Baltimore and anybody else."

And asked if, with the possible additions of S Jim Leonhard, visiting Saturday, and CB Corey Ivy, who came in along with Scott today, make the Jets look like the Ravens North, he replied:

"I think it will in production. I think we're going to have an outstanding defense and that's right out of the gate. I know the expectations — they should be high for this unit and should be high for this team. We expect to have an outstanding defense this year."

That sounds like a statement we can take to the mall ... er, the bank.

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