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Rex Ryan, Jets agree to contract extension

Stephen Hill (84) and Rex Ryan celebrate after

Stephen Hill (84) and Rex Ryan celebrate after the Jets beat the New England Patriots. (Oct. 20, 2013) Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Rex Ryan got the extension he wanted and the Jets got the flexibility they needed.

The front office has reached an agreement with its coach on a multiyear extension, the team announced Thursday, although the Jets did not disclose the terms.

"Rex and I have worked well since I got here and have the same vision for this football team,'' general manager John Idzik said in a statement released by the team.

"As I have stated before, he is a phenomenal teacher and motivator. We are fortunate to have him as our head coach. The front office, coaches, players, this entire organization -- we're all in this together. We are all governed by the same motives, and that is to build a perennial winner here with the Jets.''

Unlike most multiyear contracts for coaches, however, Ryan's deal is not completely guaranteed and is rather complex. According to ESPN, the deal is "heavily incentivized'' based on postseason wins -- meaning the front office can break free of Ryan if it wants sooner rather than later. But he also stands to cash in if he can return the Jets to the playoffs.

On the surface, it appears Ryan no longer is a lame duck in 2014. But while the agreement gives the impression of long-term stability for Ryan, the front office has protected itself from committing to him longer than it would like.

"I want to thank Woody, John, our players, our coaches and our fans for all of their support,'' Ryan said in the statement. "I'm no different than any of our fans. I'm an ordinary guy that's been given an unbelievable opportunity.

"I've said all along -- I'm glad to be a Jet. That's never changed. I know what we all want and we're striving to get there. But it's not about me. We're already into our offseason planning. There are a lot of areas where we can improve and we can't wait to get this thing rolling.''

Ryan is 42-38 in regular-season play after five seasons, the second-best percentage (.525) in team history. But although he holds the franchise record for postseason wins (four), the Jets haven't reached the postseason since the 2010 season, when they made their second straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game. Their last playoff win came Jan. 16, 2011, against the Patriots in the divisional round. Since then, Rex & Co. have finished 8-8, 6-10 and 8-8.

Ryan's old contract, which paid him $3 million per year, was set to expire at the end of the 2014 season. Nneither he, Idzik nor owner Woody Johnson would discuss Ryan's long-term status at their end-of-the-season news conference Dec. 31.

The dismissal of former GM Mike Tannenbaum in January 2013 -- and the hiring of Idzik -- made Ryan's status this past season a hot-button issue.

Although Idzik was forced to retain Ryan as part of his agreement to become general manager, it was widely assumed that the new GM would try to hire a new coach after the 2013 season. The team's stretch of four losses in five games after a surprising 5-4 start only helped to stoke the flames of speculation.

But before the Jets' Week 17 win in Miami that knocked the Dolphins out of playoff contention, Johnson and Idzik told Ryan he would remain through 2014. Afterward, an emotional scene played out in the locker room as Idzik and Johnson informed players of their decision to retain Ryan and praised the team for finishing the season with two straight wins.

At the year-end news conference, Ryan said he'd be "comfortable'' coaching under his then-current deal. "I'm a guy that looks for opportunities,'' he said. "I have an opportunity right in front of me to coach the New York Jets and that's all I need. To me, I love it . . . Regardless of what my contract situation is, I can't wait for this season.''

For now, all sides appear to have gotten what they wanted.

Ryan's extension also could mean decisions will be made soon on several assistant coaches whose contracts have expired, such as defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

Two assistants have left the organization, with special-teams coach Ben Kotwica taking the same position with the Redskins and linebackers coach Brian Van Gorder becoming the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

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