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Ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor, Jets agree to 2-year deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Let this sink in for a moment Jets fans: Jason Taylor is now one of yours.

Yep, the same player who has called you ignorant and classless, and said your "J-E-T-S!" chant was dumb. The guy who has been the target of your boos for years.

Well, it's time to forgive and forget.

The former Miami Dolphins linebacker-defensive end agreed to terms with the AFC East-rival Jets on a two-year contract Tuesday, bolstering a defense that ranked No. 1 in the league last year.

"Do I expect them to hate me some? Sure," Taylor said. "We've had a long history of going back and forth. We lost a lot of games to those guys for a few years. That wasn't fun. I was a big boy, and I always came back and added more fuel to it. It's a rivalry. That's the way it's supposed to be."

The 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year visited the Jets two weeks ago but left without a deal, pondering whether to sign with New York or wait to see if Miami would re-sign him after the draft. After vacationing in Costa Rica last weekend, Taylor decided to go with Rex Ryan and the Jets.

"The Jets have given me an opportunity to play," said Taylor, the NFL's active sacks leader. "They want me there. It's pretty flattering and humbling that I'm the free agent they want to go after: a 35-year-old defensive end-linebacker from Miami who has been a pain in their butt."

Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins said Taylor will be embraced by the team.

"I think he will be a great addition to the team with his athleticism, experience, and wisdom," Jenkins told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "We have had time to get past the fishy smell of his past, but now he will be enveloped with the fragrant smell of Jet fuel! Go Jets!"

At a 30-minute news conference at his foundation's offices in Weston, Fla., Taylor said he feared the Jets' offer would be the only one he would receive.

"There is no other offer," he said. "It's this or go join the Nationwide Tour with Jerry Rice, and I'm not very good at golf."

Taylor, who had surgery on his right shoulder in February, has 127½ career sacks in 13 seasons. He provides the Jets with a proven pass rusher who should fit right into Ryan's aggressive 3-4 defensive scheme as a hybrid linebacker-defensive end. Ryan also said Taylor would participate in the team's voluntary workouts.

"Clearly, this is one of the premier players in the game, one of the premier pass rushers in the game," Ryan said. "We expect Jason to play a bunch and be a major contributor to our defense."

Because of the league's "Final Eight" restrictions, the Jets could pay Taylor only $1.75 million in base salary this season — the amount unrestricted free agent kicker Jay Feely signed for with Arizona after leaving New York.

The former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant — Taylor finished runner-up to Kristi Yamaguchi in 2008 — wanted to stay in Miami. He said the Dolphins offered him an extension last November, then withdrew the proposal before the season ended, made no offer since and gave him no reason for the lack of interest in a new deal. Taylor said he had a meeting scheduled last week with coach Tony Sparano, but the Dolphins canceled it.

"If I was important enough that you wanted me in November, why wouldn't you want me now?" Taylor said.

Long considered an enemy while with the Dolphins as part of one of the NFL's most intense rivalries, Taylor will try to endear himself to the same fans who despised him, the way Brett Favre did in Minnesota or Donovan McNabb hopes to do in Washington. A few early season sacks might do the trick.

"I look at it this way: What was the kind of impact Roger Clemens had?" Ryan said. "He was a Red Sox and went over to the Yankees and helped out there. I kind of look at Johnny Damon with the same type of deal.

"So, if Jason could have the same impact on the Jets as those players had on the Yankees and we win a championship, I think we'll all be happy."

Either way, it's the latest headline-grabbing acquisition by the Jets, who have clear intentions of making a Super Bowl run this season after losing in the AFC championship game to Indianapolis in January.

Already loaded with story lines for its appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks" during training camp this summer, New York has also signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson and safety Brodney Pool, and traded for wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

"Rex is the master at putting together different personalities," quarterback Mark Sanchez said at a predraft event in Manhattan.

While his best days are clearly behind him, the Jets believe Taylor still has plenty left — at least for a season. He had seven sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown — against the Jets — last season.

"I think I have a lot to offer, but I think there's only two of us that think that: me and Rex," Taylor said. "But, we'll see. There are no guarantees in this game."

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AP Sports Writers Rick Freeman in New York and Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.