On the eve of NFL free agency, the New York Jets took care of their top offseason priority, re-signing nose tackle Sione Pouha to a three-year deal on Monday.
The 33-year-old Pouha has been the lynchpin of the Jets defensive line for the past three seasons, and he’s still in the prime of his football career, having only played as a full-time starter since 2009.
Having also taken two years off from football for a Mormon mission in his mid-20’s, the big Tongan has far less tread on his tires than your typical 33-year-old.
In fact, ProFootballFocus.com graded Pouha has the best overall defensive tackle or nose tackle in the NFL in 2011, and second only to Denver’s Broderick Bunkley in run defense.
No doubt, the mutual interest between the Jets and Sione Pouha was a key factor in getting a deal done before the highly coveted lineman was set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
“I’m ecstatic,” Pouha said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “This is something that I’ve always wanted. I’m going to be a Jet for life.”
Pouha is a great player and an even better person. He’s a locker room leader and arguably the heart the soul of Rex Ryan’s defense. The straw that stirs the drink, if you will.
Terms of his new deal haven’t been announced yet, but I expect that it’ll be structured with a low 2012 cap hit, perhaps in the average annual value range of about $4 millon to $7 million.
Update: Reports say the deal is for a total value of $15 million over three seasons, with $9.5 million guaranteed. That’s an average annual value of $5 million. No word yet on the 2012 cap number.