Over the course of the weekend, the Jets were certainly busy.
Late Friday night they announced they had given quarterback Mark Sanchez a five-year contract extension. Then, on Monday morning, nose tackle and resident good-guy Sione Pouha re-upped with the team when he inked a three-year deal — a move he proudly said will make him “a Jet for life.”
Like Sanchez, Pouha was named by head coach Rex Ryan as a captain last year and he started all 16 games. There were rumors of the team placing the franchise tag on him, but instead the two sides were able to work out a deal prior to the start of free agency on Tuesday. Pouha acknowledged that there was a chance he wouldn’t return to the Jets, where he has played all six NFL seasons, but testing free agency and his value on the open market was never his aim.
“There’s always a possibility, but in my mind I always wanted to stay with the Jets — always wanted to be with the Jets,” Pouha said. “Me and my agents had an understanding that I wanted to be with the Jets and I’m glad it worked out that way.”
At 33 years old, Pouha has taken less of a beating than most players, due to starting his collegiate career two years after high school. Pouha participated in a Mormon mission following high school, then went on to play college football at Utah. He is entering just his seventh year in the league and last year was the first time in his career he started 16 games.
“If you look at it statistically, whether you look at it [with] snap counts or what have you ... I’m younger than 33,” Pouha said. “I like to think that I’m 23 and I act like I’m 23, but I do feel like I’m a young 33.”
While the Pouha deal doesn’t come as a surprise, the Sanchez extension on Friday night certainly did. After recent reports citing teammates who wanted the Jets to land free agent Peyton Manning as quarterback, it was curious to wonder how the locker room would respond to the five-year deal given to Sanchez. He was the whipping boy of many fans who blamed him for the team’s rather ordinary offense last year, despite a plethora of big name playmakers around him.
Pouha left no doubt about which camp he stands in.
“Mark has always been a guy that I’ve looked up to, even though I’m a little bit older than he is, but he’s a guy I’ve always respected the way he works, respected the way he prepares. [He is] a guy who I love to call a teammate and a close friend and brother of mine. I was ecstatic and real excited when I heard he was going to get the extension” Pouha said.
“He got that extension, it was well well-deserved and he’s a guy that I hold the utmost respect for.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for breaking news on free agent signings.