The Jets made the AFC title game last season behind defense, strong rushing, one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and team chemistry. Alan Faneca, Leon Washington and Thomas Jones are gone from both the running attack and the family-like locker room. Now, the Jets may be losing one of their defensive stalwarts as well.
Shaun Ellis is the longest-tenured Jet on the roster, but after seeing so many veterans handed their pink slips this offseason, he knows there are no guarantees.
"I don't know," Ellis told The Associated Press. "I think so. Well, I hope so. You never know what they're thinking up there. You've just got to roll with it. We try to control our own fate, but we really can't."
The 32-year-old defensive end is entering the final year of his contract and is one of many Jets seeking an extension, one that has been denied to him by the team, according to the AP. With so many younger players looking for long-term deals, Ellis sees the writing on the wall that he could be packing his bags and leaving New York at the end of the 2010 season — if not sooner.
"Considering everything, I want to be here, and I hope things get worked out," he said. "But it seems like they won't, to be truthful."
Though general manager Mike Tannebaum didn’t comment on anything beyond the approaching season, he has no reason to believe Ellis won’t have at least one more go-around in green and white.
"We appreciate Shaun's contributions, and it's our expectation that he will be with the team for the 2010 season," Tannenbaum said.
The veteran is about to enter his 11th season with the team after coming to the Jets in one of the most vaunted draft classes in team history with Chad Pennington, John Abraham and Anthony Becht. After all those seasons and all those hits — his 68 career sacks are good for third all-time in team history — Ellis knows that with the business of football, nothing is written in stone.
"They talk good and then go do something else, but it's all a business," Ellis said. "For me, I definitely want to be here. I love playing here, and I love the fans, and love the whole idea of being a Jet. I really can't picture myself playing for anybody else."
Ellis shouldn’t have to worry about that for at least this season. With Tannembaum’s backing and a dearth of able bodies along the defensive frontline, Ellis seems safe. What happens after the season remains to be seen.