The news developed very quickly today, kind of like a Trevor Pryce power move on the opposing offense's pocket, into the enemy quarterback's kitchen.
"That big, tall guy in there? Yes, that's Trevor Pryce," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan at today's news conference. "Yes, we did sign him." And, Ryan added, Pryce, who did not work with the Jets at today's midday practice, will be active Sunday for the Jets' fourth game of the season at Buffalo.
Pryce is the 14th-year defensive end who still has lots of giddyup in his 6'5", 290-pound frame. The first 11 seasons of his NFL career were spent in Denver, the previous two plus the first three games this year with Baltimore. Which means that in 2008 he was a part of the last defense that Ryan coordinated for the Ravens before coming to the Jets.
Pryce was available because the Ravens released him to re-sign S Ken Hamlin, with the intentions of re-signing Pryce when they could open another roster space. But as Ryan said of Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, "Ozzie knows me. If you leave Trevor Pryce out there, we're going to try to bring him in."
"When Rex calls, you answer the call," Pryce said with a laugh at his late afternoon news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "It was strange walking in here at first and then I look at the playbook — the plays were the same. Then, it was like I stepped in a time capsule. I saw DT [Dennis Thurman] and I saw Rex, [Mike] Pettine and I saw Bart [Scott]. I was like, 'Where the hell am I?' I'm in New York, so I'm excited. I'm rambling now. That's how you know I'm excited. I'm rambling."
One of the main reasons to be excited by Pryce is his pass-rushing ability. After signing Jason Taylor, the NFL's leading active sacker now with 129.5 sacks, in the offseason, the Jets have now added the No. 4 active sacker who has 90 sacks in his career, including a career-high-equaling 13 sacks in that '08 season on Ryan's defense.
"I think he'll be in passing situations," Ryan said. "I definitely think he can get out there, and this guy's a finisher. He's a great pass rusher, very similar to Jason Taylor except he's an inside rusher. Go back and look at what we said about Trevor before we played the Ravens [in this season's opener]. I think he's one of the best, if not the best, pass rushers in the game. We just added a terrific player to go along with what we already have."
Pettine said this afternoon that this season, "even though he didn't have production, Trevor was causing production — causing the quarterback to step up, causing the quarterback to get out of the pocket. Certainly I think there's plenty of tread left. When the situation presented itself, it was a no-brainer for us to jump on it."
Pryce's new teammates seem intrigued by what he'll bring to a defense that has started the year with five sacks and the 25th-ranked sack percentage in the first three weeks.
"Trevor? He has more juice than Tropicana," said Scott, a Baltimore teammate in 2008. "I think they had every intention of getting him back but we beat them to the punch. I think that just shows how much love people have for Rex. He's willing to leave a team that is competing for a playoff spot, possibly a Super Bowl spot, to come to another one because of the leadership that Rex has and his relationship with Rex."
"It's going to be great," said safety Jim Leonhard, another Pryce teammate for one season in purple. "He's going to add tremendous value to this football team in just the way he can get to the quarterback. He'll fit right into this locker room and he's a great team guy and we're looking forward to having him."
Taylor, who has two of his career sacks as a Jet already, including a game-sealer of Tom Brady in Game 2, hearkened back to the opener, his first game in green and white, to give fans an indication of what the Jets have just acquired.
"You saw how active he was," Taylor said. "We know what we're getting with him and he knows what he's getting into. He's been with Rex and a lot of guys in this locker room before."
Which led Jason into a riff in harmony with the Madbacker's line on the Ryan influence.
"Rex has a way of talking guys into doing stuff. He worked on me and apparently worked on Trevor," Taylor said. "He's a one-of-a-kind individual. The more and more you are around him — every day, every week, every game you play with him — you realize more and more how special he really is. They don't make people like Rex Ryan."
And they haven't made too many pocket crashers over the last 20 years like Pryce.
Here are the top six leading active sackers in the NFL: