Mike DeVito was stunned when the news was delivered, the news that one of his closest friends was now an ex-teammate.
Since he was on the practice field for the Jets' walkthrough when word broke that Shaun Ellis had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Patriots, DeVito had no idea what had went down. But the news that Ellis, the 12-year veteran who was also the longest-tenured Jet on the roster a season ago, was bolting for New England definitely left DeVito a bit taken aback.
Ellis was like a brother to DeVito.
"It's really tough," the defensive end said. "That's a guy that, like you said, he's my brother. I have a ton of love for him. He’s somebody that, coming in, could have made it hard on me but made it very easy on me, took me under his wing and helped me to grow in this league and I attest a lot of what I’ve done to his leadership and him taking me along.
"So I’m very grateful for him and we do miss him over here."
DeVito said he spoke with Ellis several times during the offseason, mostly just checking in to see how he was doing. Ellis professed his desire to remain a Jet several times, but was reportedly only offered a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum of roughly $910,000.
Ellis, 34, worked out for the Patriots on Thursday and decided to take their offer. DeVito didn't deny it will be a little strange seeing the 6-5, 290-pound career Jet wearing Patriots' garb.
"Yeah, it definitely will be weird to see him over there but I wish him the best of luck," DeVito said. "A great player and, again, a guy I wish we can have over here. But that’s the way the situation is. But again, I love him and I hope the best for him."
Ellis' numbers took a slight dip in 2010 from those he posted in 2009. In 15 games, he collected 36 combined tackles and registered 4.5 sacks. He had 53 tackles and 6.5 sacks the previous year.
Still, DeVito is sure Ellis can be a very productive player.
"Oh, he’s got plenty left," DeVito said. "Shaun has plenty left. Here’s a tough man. He doesn’t give up, you know what I mean? He’s not the type of guy to pack it in. He’s had this offseason, he’s rested, he’s ready to go. So he’s got plenty left.
Rex Ryan just hopes he doesn't show it against the Jets.
"Well, he’s a great player No. 1 and the two years I’ve gotten to know him, I really enjoyed him," Ryan swaid. "He’s a tough guy and the Big Kaat fits him. He’s a big, athletic guy. The fact that he chose them, like I said before, there’s no way I’m going to wish him well. There’s no chance of that. I wish him to be healthy, but I don’t want him to play that well.
"But I know what he is, too. He’s going to be revved up, ready to go. And our guys will be too."