The New York Jets announced this evening that they have reached a compromise with wide receiver Laveranues Coles, restructuring his contract and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday morning.
Coles, who tied a career high with seven touchdown receptions last season, totaled 70 receptions for 850 yards in 2008. The 5'11", 193-pounder, who turned 31 in December, started 16 games for a seventh time in nine pro seasons.
"I have had the pleasure of getting to know Laveranues since he entered the league in 2000," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement released by the team. "He is a fierce competitor, a great teammate and a good friend who has always given his best to the New York Jets.
"I spoke with him today and expressed my appreciation for his contributions both on and off the field. This move will allow Laveranues to explore his options, and we both agreed to keep the lines of communication open."
If Coles doesn't return next season - and that door hasn't closed - he'll have finished up his second tour of duty with the Green & White. After the Florida State product was selected in the third round of the 2000 draft, he averaged 57 catches and 834 yards in his first three Jets seasons.
Then the Washington Redskins signed Coles as an unrestricted free agent in March 2003. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection in '03 in Steve Spurrier's offense, hauling in 82 passes for 1,204 yards and six TDs.
After the 2004 season, the Jets reacquired the tough, sure-handed wideout when they swapped targets as Santana Moss was sent to Washington. Coles turned in one of his best statistical seasons in 2006, grabbing a career-high 91 balls for 1,098 yards and six TDs. Then before the 2007 season commenced, his teammates named No. 87 a captain for the first time.
"I'm not a very vocal person," Coles said then. "I've always been a jokester, but for the guys to pick me and allow me to be the voice of the team and go up there and talk to Coach and express what they feel and what they want to get done this season, it is an honor."
One of Coles' finest performances came in September against the Arizona Cardinals. In that Week 4 date against the eventual NFC champions, Brett Favre connected with Coles for three touchdowns - all coming in a record-breaking second quarter of the 56-35 win.
"Sometimes you want to be involved a little bit more, not in a selfish way," LC told reporters. "I feel if given an opportunity, I can help the team win some ballgames. I went and voiced that to the coaches and they heard me."
While the Jets and Coles have reached an agreement, a reunion is not entirely out of the question. Coles will simply get the opportunity to test the market and the Jets have freed some salary cap room with free agency on the horizon.
Coles' 459 receptions, 5,941 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns with the Jets place him fourth, fifth and in a tie for fifth in those respective categories in the franchise's record book.