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Jets trade Cowart to Vikings for draft pick

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (March 18, 2005) -- The New York Jets traded middle linebacker Sam Cowart to the Minnesota Vikings for a seventh-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Cowart saw his playing time diminish in 2004 after a knee injury knocked him out for an extended period and rookie Jonathan Vilma emerged as a standout player. After the season, Cowart asked for a trade when it became clear he wouldn't have much of a role with the Jets.

The move to Minnesota reunites him with defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, who coached him in Buffalo and New York, along with former Bills teammates Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, Keith Newman and Ken Irvin.

"Adding Sam Cowart gives us a strong veteran presence and leadership in the middle of our defense," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "Sam has played at an elite level throughout his career and we are expecting him to add that type of performance to our defense."

Cowart, entering his eighth season in the NFL, was a second-round pick of Buffalo in 1998 and emerged as a star, notching over 100 tackles in five of his first seven NFL seasons. But he hasn't been the same since an Achilles' tendon injury in 2001.

He played outside linebacker for two years with the Jets before moving back to the middle last season, where he is most comfortable. Cowart was playing well until he sprained his knee in Week 2 against San Diego and missed the next six games. He was hardly used when he got healthy.

The Vikings have been busy upgrading their defense in the offseason, signing linebacker Napoleon Harris, safety Darren Sharper, cornerback Fred Smoot and Williams in the past three weeks. Including Cowart, the five players bring a combined 339 NFL starts, 57 interceptions and 32 sacks, and have played in three Pro Bowls.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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