Jets fans will just have to trust Rex Ryan on this one. The big coach is trying to land the "Big Fish,'' Dolphins unrestricted free-agent pass rusher Jason Taylor, who long has been a target of vitriol from Jets fans and who has insulted them in return.
Taylor and his wife Wednesday began a planned two-day visit with the expectation of touring the team's training facility in Florham Park, N.J., as well as its new stadium at the Meadowlands. The outside linebacker had planned to wait until after the draft to entertain free-agent offers, but that changed when Ryan called Taylor's agent, Gary Wichard.
"If I had a son, I'd want him to play for Rex Ryan,'' said Wichard, whose relationship with Ryan and his father, Buddy, goes back at least 20 years. "This is a serious situation for Jason. It's all about football right now. Mike Tannenbaum and I haven't spoken about anything.''
Because the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game to finish in the top four in the league, they can sign a free agent in the uncapped year only if they lose one, and the first-year salary can't exceed what the departing player made. Kicker Jay Feely recently signed with Arizona for a reported $1.5 million, creating a similar opening on the Jets' roster.
As soon as Feely signed, Ryan called Wichard. The agent said there's "no urgency'' to get a deal done while Taylor is visiting the Jets, and in fact, that won't happen.
"I told Jason, 'You should talk to Rex,' '' Wichard said. "Jason is up there with his wife to spend a couple of days. He's going to go back to Miami with what he's learned and make a careful, thought-out decision."
Taylor, who is seeking a two-year deal, turns 36 Sept. 1. But the three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler had seven sacks last season, one fewer than Jets leader Calvin Pace.
When Taylor was a free agent a year ago, he said he'd sign with the Jets only if it were a choice between that and retiring. Taylor has taken verbal shots at head Jets fan Fireman Ed Anzalone and at the level of intelligence and class exhibited by Jets fans. He even suggested Ryan's trash-talking with the Dolphins last season contributed to a home loss to Buffalo.
Wichard also represents linebacker Terrell Suggs, who played for Ryan in Baltimore, and he had tight end Keith Jackson in Philadelphia under Buddy Ryan. If Rex Ryan believes Taylor can help the Jets reach the Super Bowl, Wichard thinks his client should listen.
"Jason has done very well making money,'' Wichard said. "He wants to get a ring.''