NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets kicked off free agency with a flurry of moves.
As expected, they released wide receiver Percy Harvin, who became expendable when the team acquired Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. Marshall passed his physical and the trade, which was agreed upon last Friday, became official at the start of the unrestricted free agency signing period Tuesday.
New general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles also bolstered New York’s secondary by signing former Browns cornerback Buster Skrine, and the Jets re-signed running back Bilal Powell, according to people familiar with the deals.
The Jets sent a fifth-round draft pick to the Bears for Marshall and a seventh-rounder. Marshall, who turns 31 on March 23, has played the last three seasons with the Bears. He dealt with injuries and had 61 catches last season, his lowest total since his rookie year with Denver in 2006, for 721 yards and eight touchdowns.
“It was pretty cool to be able to sit back and figure out who really wanted me and the right place for me,” Marshall told the Jets’ website. “Being able to be in New York with Coach Bowles, I thought, was an amazing opportunity and one that I thought I couldn’t pass up.”
The Bears saved $7.7 million by dealing Marshall, and also created nearly $4 million in salary cap space. He is signed through 2017, but the final two years aren’t guaranteed.
In New York, Marshall will pair with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley on the Jets’ receiving corps. When healthy, Marshall is a true No. 1 receiver who can take over games, something the Jets have lacked for years.
“At this point in my career, I’ve still got 10 more years left in me,” Marshall said. “I can still do everything, and I’m excited to do that.”
Marshall has 773 career receptions for 1,289 yards and 65 touchdowns in nine NFL seasons. He’s familiar with Bowles, who was an assistant with the Miami Dolphins when Marshall played there in 2010 and 2011. Bowles was the interim coach for three games at the end of the 2011 season.
Jets receivers coach Karl Dorrell was also Marshall’s position coach in Miami in 2010.
“I think it will be a great transition,” Marshall said. “Coach Bowles allows guys to be themselves. He treats everyone like men and like pros. That’s what it’s about right there. That’s what I’ve seen work, is when guys feel comfortable coming to work and they’re not micromanaged and there’s someone there they can believe in, they can trust. He’s an amazing leader.”
The Jets acquired the versatile Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks last October, but he was due $10.5 million in base salary this season. New York would have also owed Seattle a fourth-round draft pick if he was still a member of the Jets after 4 p.m. on March 19.
Instead, the Jets owe the Seahawks a sixth-rounder. Maccagnan called Harvin a “model teammate” with the Jets.
“We’ve made it clear to Percy and his representatives that we are open to a potential return if there is an arrangement that works for both sides,” Maccagnan said in a statement. “But out of respect for Percy, we want to give him an opportunity to test the market and evaluate his options.”
However, if the Jets re-sign Harvin before the second day of the NFL draft, they would then again owe the Seahawks a fourth-rounder instead of the current sixth-rounder.
Harvin had 29 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown in eight games with the Jets after then-general manager John Idzik acquired him, calling the move “a potential coup” for New York. Harvin also ran for 110 yards on 22 carries, and averaged 24.8 yards on 20 kickoff returns.
Earlier Tuesday, the Jets signed Skrine to a four-year contract. He has six career interceptions, including four last season in his second full year as a regular starter with Cleveland.
The 25-year-old Skrine drew the ire of fans at times because of inconsistency, but the Jets jumped at improving their secondary as they await a decision by Darrelle Revis, their former star cornerback who is a free agent after helping the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl.
Powell, a fourth-rounder in 2011, was brought back on a one-year contract. Powell, known for his versatility and strong blocking in the passing game, ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries as a backup to both Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson.
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This article was written by Dennis Waszak Jr. from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.