New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose job appeared to be in danger late in the season, signed a contract extension Thursday, the team confirmed.
Ryan won't be a lame-duck coach next season. He signed a multiyear extension through at least 2016, league and team sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. However, it's a complex deal that doesn't offer as much security as it appears.
The contract is based heavily on incentives for postseason victories. There's a wrinkle in that the deal isn't fully guaranteed after 2015, according to a league source, meaning the Jets could fire Ryan without having to eat a huge amount of money.
The Jets didn't release any details regarding the extension. Ryan had one year remaining on a deal he reworked in 2010, which paid him about $3 million annually.
"I'm no different than any of our fans: I'm an ordinary guy that's been given an unbelievable opportunity," Ryan said in a statement released by the team. "I've said all along, 'I'm glad to be a Jet. I'm happy to be a Jet.' That's never changed. I know what we all want and we're striving to get there. But it's not about me. We're already into our off-season planning. There are a lot of areas where we can improve and we can't wait to get this thing rolling."
Team owner Woody Johnson announced immediately after the Jets' season-ending win in Miami that Ryan would return in 2014, but both sides sidestepped questions on how -- or whether -- Ryan's contract would be addressed.
Initially, the team wanted to make it a one-year extension, but Ryan wanted multiple years, a league source said. Ryan was bothered at times last season with the perception that he was a lame-duck coach, according to people close to him. His job status was a storyline throughout the season.
In the end, the sides reached a compromise.
Ryan received the multiyear extension he coveted, at least on paper, with a chance to make additional money by winning in the postseason. The team also got what it wanted, essentially committing guaranteed money only through 2015 with the provision it may have to pay more if Ryan starts winning playoff games again.
Coincidentally, news of the contract extension came on the three-year anniversary of Ryan's last (and biggest) postseason win -- the Jets' upset of the New England Patriots in the 2010 AFC divisional playoffs.
Ryan is 42-38 in five seasons, the second-highest winning percentage in Jets history. He also holds the franchise record with four postseason wins. But the Jets have missed the playoffs three straight years, all nonwinning seasons, and are 22-26 since their last playoff win.
At 6-8, Ryan appeared to be in jeopardy of losing his job, but the Jets finished with two wins, a surprising 8-8 season for a team that faced many challenges. Ryan integrated seven new starters on defense and endured the growing pains of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who committed 25 turnovers.
It was widely assumed that general manager John Idzik, who replaced Mike Tannenbaum last January and was forced to keep Ryan, would hire his own coach after one year on the job. But they seem to work well together.
Idzik said he and Ryan share the "same vision" for the team.
"As I have stated before, he is a phenomenal teacher and motivator," Idzik said. "We are fortunate to have him as our head coach. The front office, coaches, players, this entire organization -- we're all in this together. We are all governed by the same motives and that is to build a perennial winner here with the Jets."
Idzik's affinity for Ryan was apparent during the locker-room celebration after the season-ending win in Miami, where the two embraced after Idzik presented Ryan with the game ball. Ryan was told before the game that he'd be back in 2014.
Ryan's first priority is to solidify his coaching staff. He already has lost special-teams coach Ben Kotwica to the Washington Redskins and linebackers coach Brian VanGorder to Notre Dame. At least five current assistants have expiring contracts. All five have been offered contracts, according to a league source. Kotwica was actually offered a two-year deal, the source said, but he received a more lucrative deal from the Redskins.