The New York Jets and guard Alan Faneca have tentatively agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal that includes roughly $23 million in guarantees, ESPN's Michael Smith reports. Faneca is expected to travel to New York this weekend, when the deal will be finalized. The Jets plan to play Faneca at left guard.
The departure of Faneca, a former LSU standout who had spent his entire 10-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, isn't much of a surprise. Although he was an unrestricted free agent, the seven-time Pro Bowler was clearly irked with the team heading into last season for its refusal to trade him or give him a contract extension he felt he was worth.
Guards such as Eric Steinbach, Derrick Dockery, Leonard Davis and Kris Dielman all signed new contracts last spring, either as free agents with new teams or extensions with their incumbent franchises, and all received deals worth about $7 million per year. Only Dielman, who was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, has ever appeared in a Pro Bowl game.
Faneca said last spring that the Steelers' only offer to him wouldn't have made him one of the NFL's 10 highest-paid guards. He made $4.375 million last season in the final year of a $25.6 million deal he signed in 2002, but that deal was renegotiated to help the Steelers get under the salary cap.
He said last spring he would like to be traded but was resigned with staying with Pittsburgh for a final season. He skipped the Steelers' organized team activities practices in May, but did show up on time for the team's training camp.
"I've been asking since February to trade me, to let me go," Faneca said. "I've done my piece. I've done my time. I've done everything I can for this organization. I've lived and breathed Steeler football for nine years and gave them everything I've had and helped them win a Super Bowl. In my mind, I've earned the right to be treated fairly."
Faneca's criticism was virtually unprecedented for a Steelers player so accomplished -- only a handful of players in team history have made All-Pro more than he has.
The Steelers usually re-sign their key players and, thanks greatly to player-friendly owner Dan Rooney, have long been considered the NFL's model franchise for handling players.
That these barbed remarks came from Faneca, an accessible but almost never outspoken player, made his pointed comments all the more surprising. Faneca was worried that, if he sustained a career-ending injury, he would have no contract protection beyond 2007.
"To make me go out there this year and play football with no security, just to go out there and play football, for what I've done for this organization, in my mind, it's not right," he said.
In New York, Faneca will join a talented offensive line that includes left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold as the Jets try to boost an offense that ranked 26th in the NFL last year in yards per game (294.7) and 19th in rushing yards per game (106.3).
Information from ESPN's Michael Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report.