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Wednesday, March 6
Updated: March 7, 7:46 AM ET
Cowart will be reunited with Cottrell

By John Clayton

For months the Bills and middle linebacker Sam Cowart have argued in negotiations over how much risk the team should assume in a long-term contract following a season in which he partially tore an Achilles tendon.

Sam Cowart

The AFC East rival Jets were willing to take more of the risk and will now put Cowart, a Pro Bowler in 2000, against the Bills twice a year. Cowart signed a six-year, $31 million contract on Wednesday that includes a $1.8 million signing bonus and a play-time option bonus in 2003 that could be as much a $6 million.

The Jets also officially re-signed middle linebacker Marvin Jones, who will line up with Cowart and Mo Lewis in what is potentially one of the NFL's best linebacking corps. It also almost surely means that James Farrior, who had his best season last year, will leave as a free agent and be replaced by Cowart, who will be switched from inside linebacker in a 3-4 to outside in the Jets' 4-3.

Cowart will be reunited with his former Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

The Bills had been offering Cowart a $5 million a year contract that included a $2 million signing bonus, but one of the problems is that the Bills wanted Cowart to have a $1.5 million base salary reduced to around $300,000 if he were injured.

The Jets will pay Cowart a $1.2 million base salary along with the $1.8 million salary and there will be no reduction if there is any injury.

Three of the top leg doctors in the country have said that Cowart is recovering well from his Achilles tear and should be completely healthy by the start of the season. The doctors indicated that because the tear was only partial, it should heal better. Cowart has only about two more months remaining in his rehab from the injury.

"Sam has done a great job in rehab," Jets general manager Terry Bradway said. "We have no concerns there."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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