NFL: Jets DE Ellis denied extension, unsure of future
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Shaun Ellis wonders if he has sacked his last quarterback for the New York Jets.
The 32-year-old defensive end, the team's longest-tenured player, is uncertain about his future with the Jets after asking for and being denied a contract extension. He told The Associated Press on Thursday that he's unsure if he'll even be with the team when the season begins in four months.
"I don't know," Ellis said. "I think so. Well, I hope so. You never know what they're thinking up there. You've just got to roll with it. We try to control our own fate, but we really can't."
Ellis is entering the final year of his contract, and said the team cited its policy of having its older veterans play out their deals.
"Considering everything, I want to be here and I hope things get worked out," he said, "but it seems like they won't, to be truthful."
After seeing players such as Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca and leading-rusher Thomas Jones let go by the Jets this offseason, Ellis wonders if he might be next.
"There's always a possibility," Ellis said. "There's no secret that they want to get younger guys in, but I feel like I still have a lot of years to play and I'm just trying to do the right things I need to do. I'll just go out and play and have a good season and let it work itself out, whether it's here or somewhere else."
General manager Mike Tannenbaum said he anticipates Ellis staying put this season.
"We appreciate Shaun's contributions and it's our expectation that he will be with the team for the 2010 season," Tannenbaum said.
Ellis is skeptical, though, after seeing so many veterans jettisoned.
"They talk good and then go do something else, but it's all a business," Ellis said. "For me, I definitely want to be here. I love playing here and I love the fans, and love the whole idea of being a Jet. I really can't picture myself playing for anybody else."
His agent, Mitch Frankel, said he began speaking to the Jets about a possible extension before last season and again this offseason.
"I've had no indication that he wouldn't be with the Jets this season," Frankel said.
Ellis made his second Pro Bowl appearance last season and ranks third on the team's career list with 68 sacks. He has outlasted three head coaches and dozens of teammates since being taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2000 draft, and was a key part of the Jets' top-ranked defense last season.
He had 56 tackles and two forced fumbles despite being suspended by the NFL for the season opener for violating the league's substance abuse policy following a marijuana arrest in November 2008. Ellis also set the franchise mark for postseason starts with his ninth, and had the first playoff sack of his career against Cincinnati.
"Since I've been here, I've done a lot and I've helped the team out a lot," said Ellis, who turns 33 next month. "I just think we have something really special here and it took a while for it to get here. And, now, maybe I won't be a part of it and it kind of hurts a little bit.
"They've got a lot of other guys to take care of also, I understand. I have some years in the league, but I'm still being productive. I should get some credit for that."
The Jets have begun talks with star cornerback Darrelle Revis about renegotiating his deal, and Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold has asked for an extension. New York will also have to address potential extensions for linebacker David Harris and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
The problem is, New York doesn't have an experienced player to slide into Ellis' spot if they were to release or trade him this season.
Ellis said his broken left hand, suffered in the Jets' 17-14 playoff win at San Diego on Jan. 17, is fully healed and has no restrictions. He also said his left knee, which occasionally swelled last season, is feeling fine.
"I never had a chance to really heal it after having arthroscopic surgery last offseason," he said. "I came back and went right into camp. Now, I've really had the time to get it stronger and it's coming along really good. No problems."