Edwards has an escape clause after 2003

Updated: December 4, 2003, 9:15 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Although New York Jets coach Herman Edwards has two years remaining on his contract, he has an escape clause that allows him to leave after this season -- and he may exercise that right if he does not receive a two-year extension, a source told the Newark Star-Ledger.

According to the Star-Ledger's source (described as a league official with knowledge of the situation), Edwards plans to overhaul the Jets defense. As a result, he wants the security of a long-term deal from owner Woody Johnson to try to help the Jets in their attempts to reach the Super Bowl.

Also, although Edwards and Johnson quarreled early in the season, the coach has a strong working relationship with both the owner and the general manager, Terry Bradway. Nonetheless, Edwards wants more control in personnel decisions, the newspaper's source said.

Edwards found some of the team's offseason moves disturbing, though many decisions were made with the salary cap in mind. The coach was particularly upset that his team lost four prominent free agents to the Redskins.

"I'm the Jets coach and I plan on being the Jets coach," Edwards told the Star-Ledger. "We're trying to win this week against Buffalo. That's where my focus is."

Edwards refused to elaborate further on his future as the Jets coach, and a team spokesman stated only that "we don't discuss contracts."

Edwards has led the Jets to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, and he received a pay raise after the first. But should he choose to leave New York, he will have credible options, the paper notes. Several head-coaching vacancies are expected once the season ends, and a spot may open in Atlanta, where Edwards' former agent Ray Anderson is executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

Also, the Raiders and the Chargers may be looking for head coaches come January, and Edwards could opt to return to his native West Coast.

But given his enthusiasm for quarterback Chad Pennington, Edwards could very well settle in with the Jets, though he might shake the team up a bit. The Star-Ledger reports that Edwards' relationship with defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell has never been good, and that Cotrell might be fired as Edwards' first move in a defensive realignment.

When he was hired in New York, Edwards tried to bring Tampa Bay's defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, with him. But according to the newspaper, the Bucs wouldn't let Marinelli out of his contract. Edwards is said to prefer the defensive methods of the Bucs, his former team, than Cotrell's 3-4, gap-control approach. Edwards may call on Marinelli again after this season.