Abraham mulls holdout
after Jets sack proposal
BY RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
John Abraham's contract situation is starting to get messy.
Talks between the Jets and their "franchise" player hit a brick wall Monday, when the club rejected a proposed long-term contract, Abraham's agents, Tony Agnone and Rich Rosa, said yesterday.
Agnone and Rosa, miffed by what they perceive as a lack of urgency from the Jets, hinted that the star pass rusher might not report to training camp unless he gets a long-term deal. It also appears Abraham won't participate in the offseason program, which begins April 4.
"Obviously, he's looking for a commitment and stability," Agnone said. "At first, he was okay with the franchise tag, but he was kind of hoping it would lead to a long-term deal."
There's virtually no chance of that happening before July15. The window to sign a franchise player to a long-term contract closes today at 4 p.m. After that, there's a four-month blackout period. If the Jets were to sign Abraham during that period, they wouldn't be able to use the franchise tag on another player for the duration of that contract.
Chances are, Abraham will play the season for the amount of his franchise tender, $6.7 million, the average salary of the five highest-paid defensive ends. Agnone emphasized that Abraham has no plans to sign the tender anytime soon. Without a contract, he wouldn't be allowed in the offseason program.
Abraham's agents said they aren't demanding a trade, but they plan to shop him around the league, looking for potential suitors. Abraham is a non-exclusive franchise player, meaning he has the right to negotiate with other teams. But, if he signs an offer sheet, the Jets have the right of first refusal.
Because of the steep draft-pick compensation (the Jets would get two No.1 picks) Abraham isn't likely to generate much interest unless his agents can facilitate a trade. Jets GM Terry Bradway has said he has no plans to deal Abraham.
Abraham's camp said it sent the Jets a proposal last Thursday that included "significant concessions" on a long-term contract. On Monday, his camp got a response from the Jets, who declined to make a counter-proposal, Agnone said. The Jets followed up with an overnight letter, reiterating their stance and saying they were pulling their offer from last November off the table. "I guess they're going to be in a pay-as-you-go mode," Agnone said.
Asked if Abraham will stage a training-camp holdout, Agnone said, "Everything is open to possibility at this point."
The Jets declined to comment yesterday.
Abraham is believed to be seeking a deal that would pay him more than the Eagles' Jevon Kearse, who signed an eight-year, $66 million contract last year that included $16 million in guarantees.