Free agency notebook

It's official. Wayne Chrebet will be back with the Jets this year.<p>

He received the $250,000 bonus that was owed to him on March 1. According to a Jets source, barring an injury, he will be with the team in 2004.

It's no secret, while he didn't complain publicly, Chrebet would like a little bigger role in the offense than he had last year, when he caught just 31 passes. This should be rectified in 2005.

"We took care of that problem," according to a Jet source.

The source was referring to offensive coordinator Paul Hackett being replaced by Mike Heimerdinger, who is going to open up the offense . . .

Despite their serious cap problems, the Oakland Raiders are still making a run at former Jets tailback Lamont Jordan. While a deal might not get done today, it could be worked out in the next few days. Remember the Raiders offensive coordinator is former Jets assistant Jimmy Raye . . .

According to a Dallas Cowboys source, the team is close to a deal with former Jets defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, but it might not get done until tommorrow. The Jets thought they were going to be able to re-sign Ferguson, but now it looks like a long-shot. It what could be considered a degree of collusion, Ferguson and Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells are both represented by agent Jimmy Sexton. If you don't think this gave the Cowboys a big advantage in the negotiations, think again.

The Cowboys are probably doing the Jets a favor. While Ferguson is a good player, coming off a terrific season, it's not good cap management to pay all four starters from one unit big money. Remember the Jets are already paying defensive ends Shaun Ellis and John Abraham, along with defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson a lot of money.

A possible replacement for Ferguson could be Buffalo's Pat Williams. A factor that could help the Jets land Williams is their proximity to Buffalo. Williams is a fixture in the Buffalo community, where he does a lot of charity work and also owns an auto business. The fact that Williams could get home in a short 1 hour (or less) flight could make the Jets attractive to him. Another factor that could help the Jets is Williams' friendship with Jets cornerback Ray Mickens . . .

With offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie and the Jets not even close on a new deal, he will likely be playing elsewhere next year. His replacement could also come from Buffalo. Jonas Jennings is on the Jets radar screen. We asked a Buffalo insider for his views on Jennings.

"Jennings is an intelligent left tackle that has good feet, good hands and doesn't panic when things break down," said the insider. "If he has a bad play he's unaffected. He rolls with the punches. He doesn't let the game overwhelm him, he keeps it simple. I wouldn't say he's an elite pass protector but he's well above average. He's pretty solid as a run blocker.

"His drawbacks are injuries. He has never played a 16 game season. Last year he did help that rap by playing hurt (partially dislocated shoulder). In fact against Miami he re-injured the shoulder, left the game and then returned basically playing with one arm. And on one play he kept Jason Taylor at bay in a one-on-one situation with one arm. It was impressive. He didn't require surgery for that shoulder this past season by the way, just rest."


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