Nine-year veteran cornerback Donnie Abraham, who has wavered throughout the spring on his future and sat out much of the New York Jets' offseason conditioning program as he deliberated whether he wanted to return for 2005, has decided to retire.
Abraham, 31, informed Jets officials of his decision within the past few days. Reacting to Abraham's decision, the Jets on Thursday acquired third-year veteran corner Pete Hunter from the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft.
New York also is in discussions with free agent cornerback Ty Law, formerly of the New England Patriots, and the Jets might now be the front-runner to secure the four-time Pro Bowl performer. Jets officials have stayed in touch with Law and his representatives over the last few months and the level of discussions has escalated a bit. Law's agents are also speaking with other clubs, notably the Jacksonville Jaguars, but no team has yet offered a deal commensurate to what the 10-year veteran is seeking.
One of the NFL's classiest performers, Abraham is leaving the game on his terms, and at a point when he is still a very productive player. Abraham started all 16 games in 2004 and finished with 54 tackles, two interceptions and 17 passes defensed.
"Donnie just decided that for family reasons, and because of some business opportunities, the time was right," agent Jack Reale told ESPN.com on Thursday evening. "He is very appreciate of what the Jets have done for him, the time that [coach] Herm Edwards gave him to sort this out, and the understanding the organization showed him. But he has some exciting things out there, he's been very smart with his money, and one more year in the game wasn't going to make much difference."
Abraham had three years remaining on his contract, at base salaries of $1.4 million (for 2005), $1.7 million (2006) and $2.1 million (2007).
The Jets excused Abraham, who they signed as a free agent in 2002 after his release by the Tampa Bay Bucs, from most of their earlier spring conditioning so that he could have time to ponder his future. Abraham did appear at the team's mandatory mini-camp and it seemed then that, having resolved questions about the schooling of his three children, he would play at least one more season.
After more consideration, though, Abraham decided it was best not to uproot his family for part of the year. That factor, and the business opportunities available to him, helped him make up his mind to leave the game now.
In nine seasons with the Bucs (1996-2001) and Jets (2002-2004), Abraham played in 132 games and recorded 444 tackles, 38 interceptions and 131 passes defensed. He posted at least one interception in each season and five times had five or more pickoffs in a year. His career high was seven interceptions, recorded in both the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 2000.
The former East Tennessee State star entered the league with the Bucs as a third-round choice in the '96 draft.
New York is set at the right cornerback spot with David Barrett but is unsettled now at the leftside slot. In addition to Hunter, who has played both cornerback and safety for the Cowboys, the team has veteran Ray Mickens, but he has always been more productive in a "nickel" role. The Jets did invest a second-round choice this year in Clemson corner Justin Miller.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.