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Pats’ Martin Signs Jets Offer Sheet

March 20, 1998

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ New England’s Curtis Martin, only one of seven players in NFL history to begin a career with three 1,000-yard rushing seasons, signed an offer sheet with the New York Jets on Friday.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but ESPN reported that Martin had an option of $4 million for one year or $36 million for six years. The Patriots have one week to match the offer.

Martin, now a restricted free agent, was taken in the third round of the 1995 draft by then Patriots coach Bill Parcells, currently the Jets’ coach.

``I want nothing less than the best for the New York Jets organization,″ Parcells said about signing Martin. ``This was an opportunity that we felt was difficult to pass up.

``I look forward to having the opportunity to work with him again. This could give us a stable of top-quality running backs.″

Patriots spokesman Don Lowery refused to say whether the Patriots would match the offer from the Jets, or when the team might decide.

But he did say that the compensation for Martin’s departure _ New York’s first and third 1998 draft picks _ could be promising for the team should the Jets claim the star running back.

Martin was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1995 when he rushed for 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 30 passes for 261 yards and one TD.

In 1996, he rushed 316 times for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns, while catching 46 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, Martin missed three games with injuries, but still gained 1,160 yards on 274 carries and scored four TDs, while catching 41 passes for 296 yards and one TD.

The other players to begin their NFL careers with at least three 1,000-yard rushing seasons were Barry Sanders (9 years), Eric Dickerson (7), Tony Dorsett (5) and Terrell Davis, John Brockington and Ottis Anderson (3 each).

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