The Jets capped their busiest days of the first week of unrestricted free agency under new general manager John Idzik by announcing the signing of three veteran free agents, each with a Green & White connection, late this afternoon.
The Jets have re-signed placekicker Nick Folk, who became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday but will now begin his fourth season as their kicker. They also signed defensive lineman Antonio Garay, most recently with the Chargers and briefly a Jet in 2009, and guard Willie Colon, a seven-year Steeler who attended Hofstra, the Jets' former Long Island headquarters.
The three signings come shortly after they announced Friday morning the signing of unrestricted free agent RB Mike Goodson (Oakland) and the re-signing of UFA fullback Lex Hilliard.
Last season was arguably Folk's strongest as a Jet. He hit 21 of his 27 field goal tries (77.8%), including his first 11, equaling his franchise record for most FGs hit without a miss from the start of a season, which he set in 2011. He was 3-for-4 from 50-plus yards out, including a 54-yarder at New England that tied for the third-longest road field goal in franchise history.
Folk also has the longest kick in Jets/Titans history, his 56-yarder at Denver in 2010, he's converted every one of his 252 NFL extra-point attempt, and his fourth-quarter FG accuracy of 93.3% (42-for-45) trails only the Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski for the best percentage in that crucial quarter among all league kickers since 1991.
Garay (6'4", 320) was on the Jets practice squad for seven weeks in '09. He began his pro career as the sixth-round pick (195th overall) out of Boston College by Cleveland in '03 and spent his first two seasons with the Browns, then was with the Bears through 2007, and was signed off the Jets' practice squad by San Diego. He played his past four seasons on the Chargers' D-line, including 32 games (28 starts) in 2010-11, when he combined for 105 tackles and 8.0 sacks, before being released by the 'Bolts on Tuesday.
Like QB David Garrard (East Orange) and RB Mike Goodson (Irvington), the 33-year-old Garay also has Garden State roots as he was born in Rahway, N.J.
Colon is the 6'3", 315-pound former Pittsburgh guard whom the Steelers released Wednesday. He was Pitt's fourth-round pick (131st overall) in 2006 out of Hofstra and Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, N.Y. In fact, he played in the Empire Challenge High School All-Star Game that benefits Boomer Esiason's foundation in the early 2000s, and in preparation for that game he practiced in the Jets' practice bubble and on their fields when the Hofstra campus was their base of operations.
Colon, who will turn 30 next month, played in 62 games with the Steelers, all starts, including starting every game at right tackle for three consecutive seasons, from 2007-09, and that of course included the Super Bowl XLIII team. He fought through an Achilles injury that cost him his 2010 season and a triceps tear that caused him to miss all but one game of the '11 season before coming back with 11 starts at left guard last season.