David Harris signs 4-year deal with Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' Core Four will remain intact through at least 2013.

Linebacker David Harris, the last member of the group to receive a new contract, signed a four-year deal Tuesday. The total value is $36 million, including $29.5 million in guarantees, a league source said. It's the largest guarantee on a four-year deal in history for an inside linebacker, according to one of his agents, Brian Mackler.

"Last year, (the Jets) pretty much gave me their word that I'd be a priority this year, and they followed up on their word," Harris said after practice.

The deal comes after Harris waited as general manager Mike Tannenbaum took care of other players first and gave out big money. In February, Harris was designated a franchise player, and he signed his $10.4 million tender. The new contract replaces that, meaning he's signed through 2014.

"Every player takes it differently," Harris said. "Coming from a humble background, a blue-collar background, I knew that Mike would come through on his promise and I just wanted to focus on football and not focus on the contract and the business side of it. I just want to go out there and help my teammates win games and I'm glad that it's all done with."

Harris, cornerback Darrelle Revis, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold -- all drafted in 2006 and 2007 -- have been dubbed the Core Fore. The Jets locked up Ferguson and Mangold last year to long-term contracts, also renegotiating Revis' deal after a long holdout -- a one-year extension to the remaining three.

Based on guaranteed money, Harris is the second-highest paid defensive player on the team, behind Revis.

"We're really glad that he'll be here for a really long time," Tannenbaum said. "From a GM's perspective, it's a dream to have someone like David, not only what he does on the field, but off the field and how he conducts himself in such a professional way. When you have those types of people, you do everything you can to make sure they never leave your locker room."

Because of the complexities of the expiring collective bargaining agreement, the Jets couldn't address Harris' contract until this year, when a new CBA was put into place. Throughout the labor uncertainty, both sides always seemed confident that a deal would get done, and they hammered it out over the past week.

After a morning walk-through, Harris indicated the sides were close, saying he expected a deal "pretty shortly." The Jets wanted to get it done before Thursday, when the rules permit them to practice in pads for the first time in camp.

"With all the madness of the past week ... this was still a very important priority for us," Tannenbaum said.

Harris, a second-round pick out of Michigan in 2007, replaced Jonathan Vilma in the lineup and became an instant impact player. He has 428 tackles, 14½ sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles in four seasons. Numbers aside, Harris is critical to the defense because he calls the signals and plays every down.

The deal helps the Jets because it creates additional cap room. Harris' new cap charge for 2011 is $4 million, according to a league source -- a savings of $6.4 million. That will allow them to sign more free agents in the coming days.

"There could be a couple of more transactions," Tannenbaum said.

The Jets have been on a spending spree. By re-signing Harris, wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the Jets have doled out $118 million in total contract, including about $75 million guaranteed.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.