Parcells exit paves way for linebacker’s new contract
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ Chris Slade, the pass-rushing linebacker who probably would have left New England if Bill Parcells stayed, signed a five-year contract Wednesday to remain with the Patriots.
Slade, who could have become a free agent, was upset that Parcells made him a platoon player after 3 1/2 years as a starter. But he smiled broadly when new coach Pete Carroll said he would rush from the corner, his favorite spot.
``My man,″ Slade said, pounding his new boss on the left shoulder at a news conference at which his $13 million deal was announced.
Parcells, however, was not Slade’s man.
But now his ex-coach is a consultant with the New York Jets _ unless NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue rules that violates Parcells’ last contract with the Patriots _ and Slade is a cornerstone of Carroll’s defense.
``If Bill would have been back here this year as a coach,″ Slade said, ``it probably would have made my decision a lot tougher to come back, just not knowing what my situation was going to be, not knowing my status with him, because it was so shaky and up and down all year.
``Pete’s my coach now and I’m sure he and I will work something out and I’ll be used properly.″
Carroll, the coordinator of San Francisco’s strong defense the past two seasons, said he wasn’t about to lose an outside pass rusher _ something all teams covet.
``This commitment tells you that we want him to be an every-down player,″ Carroll said. ``Last year in free agency in San Francisco, this was the first guy that we wanted to get.″
Slade, a second-round draft pick out of Virginia in 1993, had 22 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons and added seven last season, second on the team only to Willie McGinest’s 9 1/2. He also was fourth on the team in tackles and forced a team-high three fumbles.
``Outside pass rush guys are the biggest factor in creating problems for the offense,″ Carroll said. ``When you’ve got two guys, you’ve just got to keep them.
``Chris complements me and I complement him,″ McGinest said. ``I’m glad to see his payday come.″
McGinest had a better relationship with Parcells than Slade did but said, ``I’m happy. We have a new coach coming in and I just want to win.″
Slade started eight of the first nine regular-season games last season but just one of the last seven. Dwayne Sabb, who Parcells felt was a better defender against the run, replaced him.
Slade said he wasn’t satisfied with the explanation for the change.
``I didn’t agree then and don’t agree now and probably never will agree with it,″ he said. ``At that time, Bill was making all the decisions as far as coaching’s concerned.″
Now that’s the job of Carroll, who was named coach Monday. Parcells said last Friday he was stepping down, and on Tuesday the Jets said he would become coach Feb. 1, 1998, once his ties to the Patriots end, or before then if a compensation deal with the Patriots could be worked out.
Tagliabue said he would review the consultation agreement if asked and, on Wednesday, the Patriots filed a written request for him to do that. Team spokesman Don Lowery said the team would abide by Tagliabue’s decision and not go to court.
Asked about possible tampering charges against the Jets in their pursuit of Parcells, Lowery said, ``it’s a possibility.″
Slade doesn’t care how Parcells got to the Jets as long as he’s gone from the Patriots.
``I was excited″ when Carroll was hired, Slade said. ``It’s time for a new era.″