Washington signs tender with Jets
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Leon Washington was in Pensacola, Fla., working out and kept noticing the deals general manager Mike Tannenbaum was swinging.
The game-changing running back/kick returner was skipping the Jets' voluntary offseason workouts while rehabilitating his broken right fibula. But the headline-grabbing trades got the competitive juices flowing in the restricted free agent.
"I'm watching the Jets make all those moves and I'm like, 'Man, I really want to be there,' " Washington said Thursday. "The whole time I'm down there working out, I'm wearing my Jets gear every day.
"Hopefully, I can be back here, whether I get a better offer sheet and hopefully the Jets can match it, or end up signing the tender. I ended up signing the tender. So it worked out best for me."
Washington signed his one-year, $1.759-million tender Thursday, officially bringing him back on board. Washington made $535,000 in base salary last season and wasn't pleased that he didn't get the new long-term deal he was seeking. He hopes to be able to participate in training camp in August.
He met with Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan when he arrived at the team's complex Thursday, and both sides spoke about the situation, clearing the air on where each was coming from. Washington had until June 1 to sign his tender. Under normal circumstances, he would have been an unrestricted free agent because he had four years of service, but he's been victimized by the lack of a new collective-bargaining agreement.
"It was quite natural for me to go out there and find an offer sheet that was better than $1.8 million," Washington said. "They totally understood and they said it wouldn't have been right if I didn't do that."
There were rumblings that the Jets were looking to trade Washington, especially after he signed the tender, because that would allow the Jets to move him. But agent Alvin Keels said on his Twitter page that there's no trade talk at all, explaining that Washington signed with all intentions of being a Jet in 2010.
"We're excited to have him back," Tannenbaum said. "You never know what happens if the phone would ring, but our expectation is he will certainly be here. But our expectations are that he should really be a meaningful player for us this year."
Washington said he's right on schedule with his rehab and that he began running March 28. He's able to run in a straight line but isn't sure when he'll be able to begin some of his trademark cutbacks. He'll be reassessed next week, perhaps Monday, by team doctors, who will help plan the next step.
"Everything looks good, looks right on target for me to be back in the regular season and hopefully training camp," Washington said. " . . . I feel good and my body feels good, and everything is on the up and up."
Notes & quotes: QB Mark Sanchez began running in a pool about three weeks ago. He hopes to be able to start running on land within a month.