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Mangini keeping Baker up to date while tight end stays away

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Jets coach Eric Mangini is keeping Chris Baker updated on the playbook while the disgruntled tight end stays away from camp because of a contract dispute.

Baker wants to renegotiate his deal, but the Jets have so far declined. As a result, the veteran has boycotted the team's voluntary organized team activities.

"Anytime you encounter these, there are going to be different factors that go into it and we deal with all those factors as they come up," Mangini said Thursday. "The important thing for me is to keep Chris up to date with what's going on and I know that's important to him, as well, and that's what I'll keep doing."

Baker, in his seventh season with the Jets, is entering the third year of a four-year deal which averages to about $1.65 million annually. The tight end, coming off a career-high 41 catches for 409 yards, has said he was told by the team last season that it would be willing to redo his contract if he had a productive year.

"Everyone has a difference of opinions and I respect the difference of opinions," Mangini said. "It's always going to be the case in any situation, and that's where it is."

The situation is similar to that of Pete Kendall last year, which culminated in general manager Mike Tannenbaum trading the left guard to Washington before the season. Spicing things up is the fact Baker and Kendall have the same agents.

"Things are going to proceed as they proceed and Mike does a great job of that," Mangini said. "I'll handle the football side of things and make sure he is as prepared as he possibly can be when he gets here and then when he is here as well."

Tight end is a position of depth for the Jets, possibly damaging Baker's stance. New York signed veteran Bubba Franks and drafted speedy Dustin Keller in the first round, and the Jets also have former fifth-rounder Jason Pociask.

Because OTAs are voluntary, Baker hasn't been fined. That will change if Baker stays away from minicamp next month, when players are required to attend.

Other than Baker, first-round pick Vernon Gholston and punter Jeremy Kapinos (personal issue) weren't in attendance Thursday.

Gholston has to wait a bit before he joins the team because under NFL rules, rookies aren't allowed to participate until their class graduates or complete their finals and have permission from the school. Mangini said the linebacker, who attended rookie camp, won't be back until after Ohio State's graduation, which is June 8.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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