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Jets dump trio; more expected to go

Wednesday, February 27th 2008, 4:00 AM

Cataffo/News

Justin McCareins did not have much of an impact in his tenure with the Jets.

Starting what figures to be a tumultuous offseason in terms of player movement, the Jets released three veterans on Tuesday - wide receiver Justin McCareins, cornerback Andre Dyson and left guard Adrien Clarke. All three played ignominious roles in the Jets' 4-12 disaster last season.

McCareins dropped two huge passes in a Week 2 loss at Baltimore, capping four disappointing seasons with the Jets.

He signed a seven-year, $27 million contract after being acquired in a trade with the Titans in 2004, but he made only 141 receptions and managed only one 100-yard game.

The Jets tried to trade him as far back as a year ago.

Dyson was another costly miscalculation. He signed a five-year, $11 million contract as a free agent in 2006, but he lost his starting job last season and played in only nine games. The low point for Dyson came when he was stiff-armed by the Giants' Plaxico Burress along the sideline, an embarrassing missed tackle that resulted in a 53-yard touchdown.

Clarke was supposed to make everybody forget about Pete Kendall, who was traded last summer after a bitter contract dispute, but the unproven left guard was a flop. Basically, he was finished after a December game in New England, where a missed block on the Patriots' Richard Seymour resulted in disaster. Kellen Clemens was slammed to the turf, suffering rib and shoulder injuries, and his pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

McCareins and Dyson will count as $2.9 million in "dead" money on this year's salary cap, but the Jets will realize a net savings of about $1 million by unloading them.

The Jets are poised to make more moves. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and nose tackle Dewayne Robertson are on the trading block; the trading period begins Friday. Vilma, who has permission from the Jets to seek a trade, attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis over the weekend to meet with interested teams. The Saints and Jaguars are believed to have interest.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: The Jets may have committed a tampering violation by expressing their interest in Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel before the start to the free-agent signing period.

Samuel's agent, Alonzo Shavers, is quoted on a newspaper blog as saying he expects the Jets to aggressively pursue his client once free agency begins at 12:01a.m. Friday.

"The interest level is where it needs to be for them to either a) make a run at him or b) get him," Shavers tells Newsday.com.

By rule, teams aren't permitted to communicate interest to a potential free agent or his agent until the signing period commences.

It's fairly common in the days leading up to free agency, but difficult for the league to police. The enmity between the Jets and Patriots, of course, adds another layer.

The NFL could investigate the matter if the Patriots request it. Patriots spokesman Stacy James said he's aware of the quote, but he said the team had no comment.

The Jets also declined comment, as did an NFL spokesman. Shavers didn't return a phone message or an e-mail.

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