FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Rex Ryan bolted out of his office the moment he heard Ed Reed was cut.
He wanted to make sure general manager John Idzik knew one of his favorite players was available for the New York Jets to pursue.
“It’s only a rumor that I pulled a hamstring,” Ryan said with a big grin. “That’s not true.”
The Jets signed the nine-time Pro Bowl safety Thursday, bringing one of the NFL’s greatest playmaking defensive players to a secondary on a defense that ranks 24th against the pass. The 35-year-old Reed was released Tuesday by Houston, cleared waivers Wednesday and joined less than 24 hours later.
“John had a big smile on his face,” Ryan said of the Jets’ GM. “I think he anticipated it, but he had already beaten me to the punch. He had already set it in motion with our scouts.”
Reed joined his new Jets teammates on the practice field wearing a green No. 22 jersey; his familiar No. 20 is currently worn by cornerback Kyle Wilson. Reed laughed when he was asked if he thinks he’s got anything left.
“I don’t think I’d be here if they didn’t think that,” he said after his first practice with the Jets. “I know what I know. I know how I feel and I know what I’ve put in my offseason workouts. I’m ready to go. You’ll see.
“You guys can be the judge of it.”
The Jets released outside linebacker Ricky Sapp to make room on the roster for Reed.
Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman coached Reed for eight years in Baltimore. Reed has always been a favorite of Ryan, who once labeled him the greatest safety to play the game. While his physical skills no longer make him one of the game’s elite players, Reed will be able to serve as a leader in the secondary and help bring along young safeties Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush.
“This had nothing to do with sentiment,” Ryan said. “We believe that Ed will be a great signing for us and he’s going to help this football team, without question.”
Reed said New England also showed interest, as well as one other team, but everything seemed right about coming to the Jets.
“It just fits,” he said. “I know the system. Rex was like, ‘Go ahead and let’s see what you’ve got.'”
The fact that the Jets (5-4) are in the playoff hunt was also a plus.
“That’s a huge factor,” Reed said. “It was a huge factor in playing this year, in general, being with a team that was going to contend and be in the playoffs.”
There’s a good chance Reed will be ready to play Sunday at Buffalo, at least in certain situations, and it is a low-risk, high-reward situation for the Jets.
“We’ve had some issues with the deep ball,” Ryan said. “Let them throw it there now.”
Reed would like to start, of course, but added that he’s fine with whatever the coaches want him to do, including playing in dime packages or special teams.
“They had a good thing going before I came,” Reed said. “I don’t plan on rocking the boat.”
That was a bit of an issue in Houston, as Reed missed the Texans’ first two games after offseason hip surgery and was relegated to a backup role, making just 16 tackles with no interceptions.
He was unhappy about not starting after signing a three-year, $15 million deal in the offseason following 11 years in Baltimore. Reed also criticized the team for being outplayed and outcoached after the Texans’ seventh straight loss last Sunday.
“To put it simple for you,” Reed said, “it wasn’t a good fit.”
Reed, who won a Super Bowl last season with the Ravens, was the NFL’s top defensive player in 2004. In 11-plus seasons, the ball-hawking Reed has 61 interceptions, including seven returned for touchdowns. He’s a five-time first-team All-Pro who also holds the NFL record with 1,541 yards on interception returns. His nine career postseason interceptions, including one in the Ravens’ Super Bowl win, tie him for the league mark.
Reed said recent criticism of him has come as a result of being held to higher standards than most safeties.
“I created that monster, and I’ve been blessed to create that monster,” he said. “I love it.”
Reed had a whirlwind 24 hours, which began with him working out in Georgia when he cleared waivers around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Less than six hours later, he was on a plane to New Jersey.
“We had him at hello,” Thurman said.
Reed met with Idzik before going to bed around 2:30 a.m., and then heading back to the facility after a few hours of sleep.
“We put him in some defenses just to see what he could remember with his partner (Dawan) Landry out there,” Ryan said. “It was like, ‘Whoa, here we go.’
“It was like he hadn’t missed a beat.”
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