Jets stock backfield, trade Washington

Leon Washington is a New York Jet no more.

The Jets on Saturday traded the running back and Pro Bowl return man along with a seventh-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for a fifth-round draft choice. The Jets used the pick on Kentucky fullback John Conner.

Washington was the subject of debate throughout his four seasons with the Jets. He was a flashy performer when given the opportunity. Fans wanted him to get the ball more.

Off the field, Washington's contract always seemed to be an issue. He missed voluntary workouts last offseason and showed up to training camp a day late before caving in. His agent, Alvin Keels, threatened holdouts.

Washington, a restricted free agent, didn't show up when the offseason conditioning program began this month and declined to sign his qualifying offer until the last possible moment.

Then there are the doubts about Washington's leg. He is returning from a gruesome compound fracture, and although Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, head coach Rex Ryan and Keels all have insisted he will be ready by opening weekend, there are no guarantees a back who relies so heavily on cuts will be the same.

Washington's future with the Jets changed when they traded up to draft USC running back Joe McKnight in the fourth round. McKnight, like Washington, is a smaller back with speed who runs outside and can catch out of the backfield.

McKnight plus Shonn Greene plus LaDainian Tomlinson equaled too many names on the depth chart.