It didn’t take Chris Ivory long to find a new team.
The Jets’ free agent, the 2015 AFC rushing champion, received a lot of attention on the open market. But a source confirmed to Newsday that Ivory “likely” intends to sign with the Jaguars at the start of the league year, which is 4 p.m. Wednesday.
In Jacksonville, he’ll be reunited with John Idzik, the former Jets general manager who in 2013 traded a fourth-round pick to the Saints in exchange for the running back.
A return to the Jets seemed highly unlikely, given the team’s tight budget and Ivory’s steep asking price. The Jets have less than $7 million in salary-cap space. Complicating matters is the fact that Ivory, according to another league source, was seeking a minimum three-year deal that pays roughly $6.5 million annually. That may seem like a lot for someone who signed a three-year, $6-million deal in 2013. But Ivory’s punishing style and hard-to-tackle frame make him an attractive option for teams looking to inject toughness into their running game.
The Jaguars apparently weren’t scared off by the high price tag. According to NFL.com, Ivory’s new deal is believed to be “well above” $6 million a year.
At least seven teams, including the Texans, Raiders and Bucs, reportedly expressed interest in Ivory this week during the NFL’s legal tampering period. Ivory, who turns 28 this month, ran for 1,070 yards (fifth in the league), averaging 4.3 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. He also improved his pass-catching, with 30 receptions for 217 yards and a TD.
Houston released four-time Pro Bowl selection Arian Foster last week, and fellow running back Jonathan Grimes, his former Texans teammate, is expected to explore free agency, according to his agent. Oakland would like to pair a back with Latavius Murray, and Tampa Bay is devising a contingency plan in case its lead back, Doug Martin, walks. Like Ivory, Martin and Dolphins running back Lamar Miller are eager to cash in.
Notes & quotes: The Jets also have shown interest in Giants free-agent cornerback Prince Amukamara, according to Fox Sports 1. Amukamara had one interception and 10 passes defensed.
But it’s unclear if the Jets will be able to snag Jones or Amukamara, given their cap situation. After parting with Antonio Cromartie, Todd Bowles now can choose from among Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Dee Milliner as the cornerback starting opposite Darrelle Revis.