- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On his one day of unemployment, Trevor Pryce went jogging with his wife to clear his head. The phone rang. It was his agent, telling him to report to the New York Jets. Rex Ryan wanted him.
"When Rex calls, you answer the call," the former Baltimore Ravens defensive end said Thursday after signing a one-year contract with the Jets.
Twenty-four hours after his two-mile jog, Pryce was in the Jets' facility, reuniting with Ryan and other former assistant coaches and teammates from Baltimore. Pryce had planned to spend the weekend with his daughter and niece at a Six Flags amusement park, but he will be in uniform with the Jets in Buffalo, slated to play as a situational pass-rusher.
Ryan stole Pryce from his former team, a bang-bang change of address that could create friction between the Jets' coach and the Ravens. Baltimore released Pryce Wednesday with the stated intention of re-signing him next week, taking a calculated gamble he wouldn't sign elsewhere. It backfired.
"As soon as we saw he was released, we, of course, got a little excited about it," said Ryan, claiming he doesn't expect the move to fracture his relationship with the Ravens. "At first, I was like, 'There's no way he was released.' But we found out it was true."
With season-ending injuries to linemen Kris Jenkins and Ropati Pitoitua, the Jets were looking for depth -- specifically, an inside pass-rusher. Ryan, formerly the Ravens' defensive coordinator, always had a fondness for Pryce -- and vice versa. It was a no-brainer for both sides, although it raises questions as to why Pryce was so eager to leave a good situation.
The main reason, he said, was Ryan. Because of his respect for Ryan, Pryce said his agent knew to close the deal without his consent.
"There are certain things you don't have to say, like, 'Water is good for you,'" said Pryce, 35, explaining his desire to play for Ryan. "There are certain known truths in life, and that's one of them."
Another reason: Money.
As a vested veteran, Pryce's $2 million salary is guaranteed. He will collect the balance of that from the Ravens, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. In addition, he will receive about $730,000 on a one-year contract from the Jets, a league source said. That includes the veterans' minimum salary and a $25,000 signing bonus, according to a league source.
Pryce said neither he nor his agent promised the Ravens that he wouldn't sign with another team. Because he's a vested veteran, he was free game, not subject to the waiver system. He claimed there was no guarantee the Ravens would re-sign him next week, but that had to be their plan. Why cut a player whose money is guaranteed?
Pryce's departure hit hard in the Ravens' locker room. His locker remained untouched, and safety Ed Reed was seen wearing Pryce's jersey as a tribute to him.
"If it was up to me, he would be lining up next to me," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs told the Baltimore Sun. "I definitely would want him in this locker room. Now, he's over there with Rex Daddy."
Jets linebacker Bart Scott, a former Raven who followed Ryan to the Jets in 2009, suspects there are other players in Baltimore who would like to follow Pryce up Route 95.
"I guarantee you, there are probably guys in the same spot right now, jealous as hell," Scott said. "Trevor probably gets texts like, 'Man, come get me, too.' I guarantee you, there's at least 15 other players over there that are praying to God they get released for half a day, too, so they can come over here. They won't admit it, but I guarantee you."
Told that Reed was parading around in Pryce's jersey, Scott cracked, "He was probably hoping he could get Fed Ex'd here, too."
Pryce said his arrival at the Jets' facility was "like walking into a time capsule." He said the Jets' playbook is virtually identical to that of the Ravens. He saw plenty of familiar faces, including Ryan, Scott and secondary coach Dennis Thurman.
How much can Pryce help the Jets? In three games as a situational pass-rusher for the Ravens, he recorded no tackles and no sacks. He knows how to get to the quarterback -- 90 career sacks, fourth most among active players -- but knowing and doing are two different things.
Ryan compared him to Jason Taylor in terms of an innate ability to rush the passer.
"He's a finisher," Ryan said.
And Ryan is a closer. Deal closer.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
13hEric D. Williams
2dSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo