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Mason's choice: Free-agent receiver to sign deal with Jets

NEW YORK -- Derrick Mason is reuniting with Rex Ryan, this time with the New York Jets.

The former Ravens wide receiver announced Saturday that he is signing with the Jets, adding a boost to New York's receiving corps.

Mason announced the decision in a statement and added that he's "looking forward to working under Rex and rejoining some familiar faces." After choosing the Jets over the Ravens and Titans, he wrote on his Twitter page: "Jet fuel is full time to fly!!!!"

Terms of the deal were not immediately available, and the team had yet to make an announcement regarding Mason.

Mason, 37, fills the void created when the Jets granted Jerricho Cotchery's request to be released. Mason spent his first eight seasons with the Tennessee franchise before playing the last six with Baltimore. He knows Ryan from their days together with the Ravens when the coach was the defensive coordinator.

"I would like to thank my family for supporting this difficult decision I made today!" Mason wrote in a series of tweets. "For 14 yrs they have been by my side and they chose to do it yet again even though this time it was hard for them!! Also I would like to thank all of Baltimore for supporting me for the last 6 years!! U guys and gals have been my football family and I will forever appreciate that support and love!"

ESPN first reported Mason's decision Saturday.

Mason caught 61 passes for 802 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but was cut by the Ravens on July 28. Baltimore was interested in bringing Mason back at a lower salary, but the Ravens had to compete with the Jets and Titans. Mason visited the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Friday and went home to contemplate where he would play his 15th NFL season.

"I, obviously, would like to get Derrick right now," Ryan said Friday, uncertain of the Jets' chances. "But he's got other teams, he's got other things like that, and I'm sure he'd have to leave money on the table to come here."

Mason has 924 catches -- 12th-most in NFL history -- for 11,891 yards and 66 touchdowns in a consistently productive career. He's the Ravens' career leader in receptions and yards receiving, and moves from catching passes from Joe Flacco to Mark Sanchez.

"Going from one young gun to another!! Hahahahahaha," Mason tweeted.

Mason is the latest big-name addition to the Jets' receiving corps, which has been revamped since last season. New York re-signed Santonio Holmes when free agency began, and then made a big splash when it signed Plaxico Burress last Sunday -- even though the former Super Bowl star with the Giants had just been released from prison after serving 20 months on a gun charge.

Burress has yet to practice with the Jets after having to wait for the collective bargaining agreement to be ratified and then tweaking his left ankle during a workout. He could practice for the first time Sunday.

The Jets allowed both Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith to become free agents and they signed elsewhere; Edwards with San Francisco and Smith with Buffalo. New York also cut the popular Cotchery, who had asked in to be traded or released, on Thursday. That left New York with very little experience at the position beyond Holmes and Burress.

Mason will likely replace Cotchery as the team's No. 3 receiver in the slot, but could see even more action if Burress is slow to get back into football shape or catch on to the offense. The Jets are also excited by what they've seen so far from speedy fifth-round pick Jeremy Kerley from TCU.

"He's just a baller," Sanchez said of Kerley. "There's always one big surprise at camp and for a guy that didn't know much of the playbook coming in, he's picked it up very fast."

Mason briefly retired before training camp two years ago, but returned and appeared rejuvenated. He caught 73 passes -- the eighth time in his career he had at least that many receptions -- and posted his eighth 1,000-yard receiving season. Mason was solid again last season, and Burress said Thursday he'd be excited to have another former Michigan State star as a teammate.

"I love D-Mase," Burress said. "He's a Pro Bowl receiver, had a lot of success in this league. He's been consistent since Day 1 that he stepped in here. If he does come here, it would be great. I would love to have him. It would be another Spartan in the building. I welcome all Spartans."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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