Escape To New York??

By Armando Salguero
Updated: April 21, 2010

Linebacker Jason Taylor grimaces and hangs his head after a November loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Linebacker Jason Taylor grimaces and hangs his head after a November loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

MIAMI — Usually, when NFL players agree to a $13 million contract, the mood is light and fun, and the only thing that really compares with hitting the jackpot is hitting the quarterback or a game-winning touchdown pass.

So why wasn’t Jason Taylor all smiles Tuesday?

Speaking from his Jason Taylor Foundation offices, the one located in Suite 99, of course, Taylor showed no delight that he has scored a big contract with the New York Jets.

“I have a lot to offer, but there’s only two of us who think that,” Taylor said. “Me and [Jets coach] Rex [Ryan]. . . . I wanted to retire here. I came back home last year and felt good about it. The fans felt good about it. I was to be here.

“This is tough.”

Taylor agreed to a two-year deal with the Jets that is worth $13 million on its face, but one that essentially is a one-year deal because of a $10 million bonus in 2011 the Jets aren’t likely to pay.

But don’t sweat those details.

Taylor is still going to make up to $4 million this season.

Yet Taylor wasn’t exactly popping bubbly.

“He hates to leave the fans of South Florida,” his agent Gary Wichard said.

“Hopefully,” Taylor added, “I can walk back in the [Sun Life] stadium someday and not get booed.”


“That’s the word,” Wichard said. “I don’t doubt it at all.”

Do not doubt this, either: If the Dolphins had offered Taylor practically any contract this offseason, he would have signed it.

“They didn’t,” Taylor said.

It’s not that Taylor would have signed out of loyalty to Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. It’s just that Taylor feels an allegiance to you, the fans.

You have sweated and perhaps even cried through that nine-year (2001-2009) experience when the Dolphins mustered only one playoff appearance. Taylor sweated and cried just as much.

And, by the way, he also bled and sustained broken fingers and cracked knuckles and separated shoulders.

You hurt during the tough times. He hurt with you.

A connection like that is not easily broken. And should not be.

Taylor will leave South Florida this morning on a flight to New Jersey to sign his new contract with the Jets. But it’s going to take a while for his heart to catch up with the rest of him.

“The love I have for the fans down here and the people down here . . . my heart will still be with them,” he said.

Remember, this is a guy who hated Jets fans as much as you did.

“The first time I ever mentioned the Jets to Jason last year he said, ‘Hell no,’ and hung up on me,” Wichard said.

Things changed this offseason.

Taylor needed a job and the Jets were the only team that was offering. So, Miami fans probably will have mixed feelings about Taylor leaving their Dolphins for the second time in three years.

But those fans also should know Taylor didn’t have another choice short of retiring.

The Dolphins have viewed Taylor as nothing more than an acorn the past couple of years. He was a scrap to pick off the market late in free agency if it suited the team.

That’s fine when you are talking about guys such as Travis LaBoy, whom the Dolphins recently scheduled for a workout, or, perhaps, a Chris Crocker or Eric Green.

But Taylor?

The Dolphins treated him like an acorn when he is an icon.

The Jets, arrogant and vexing, basically refused to take no for an answer from Taylor.

The coach, general manager and owner called. The latest of these calls came at 6 a.m. Tuesday, when Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum called to wake Wichard and remind him how much the Jets wanted to close the deal.

Wichard works out of California, and the call came at 3 a.m. PDT.

“The Jets really wanted to get this thing wrapped up before the draft for their own purposes,” Wichard said.

Taylor will play for the Jets now. And he will play against the Dolphins twice in 2010.

There is nothing about him that suggests he will let up on his old team. In fact, the opposite probably is true. But will he miss Miami fans cheering for him?

That remains his great lament about this whole deal.