NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets and popular nose tackle Sione Po'uha have parted ways.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Jets released one of their longest-tenured players in a cost-cutting move.
Po'uha was due to make $4.9 million in base salary this season, which would have become guaranteed if he remained on the roster Thursday. The move Tuesday, a few hours before the start of free agency, saved the Jets about $3.8 million on the salary cap.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the move.
The 34-year-old Po'uha missed four games last season while dealing with back troubles after signing a three-year, $15 million contract last offseason. He was New York's third-round pick out of Utah in 2005. He has 263 tackles, 4½ sacks and a safety during his career. Po'uha became a full-time starter for the Jets in 2009, when he filled in for the injured Kris Jenkins, and then did so again the following season when Jenkins suffered yet another season-ending — and, it turned out, career-ending — knee injury.
The Jets have revamped their defensive line through the draft in the last few years, and could be without both Po'uha and defensive end Mike DeVito, who was set to become a free agent and was expected to draw interest from several teams.
Kenrick Ellis, the Jets' third-round pick in 2011 who has also dealt with some injuries, is expected to replace Po'uha as the starter at nose tackle. Damon Harrison and Junior Aumavae are also on the roster and can play the position.