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Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen of ESPN report that quarterback Brett Favre has instructed his agent to inform the New York Jets that he plans to retire. Werder received an e-mail from Favre regarding his decision. "[G.M.] Mike [Tannenbaum] and [owner] Woody [Johnson], as well as the entire organization, have been nothing short of outstanding,’' Favre told Werder via e-mail. “My teammates[,] Thomas [Jones] and Kerry [Rhodes] included, were a pleasure to play with. [Coach] Eric [Mangini] could not have been any better. I enjoyed playing for him. My time with the Jets was short, but I’m honored to be given that chance.’' Favre undoubtedly mentioned Jones and Rhodes because both of them were critical of him in the wake of a failed 2008 season, during which Favre’s performances disintegrated down the stretch. Jones even suggested that Favre should have been benched. So what does this all mean? The easy answer is to assume that Favre really means it this time. But he really seemed to mean it last time, and in the end he didn’t. There’s evidence to support the notion that he might not mean it this time, either. Indeed, Mort and Werder report that, per an unnamed source, agent Bus Cook “informally discussed” with the Jets the possibility of granting Favre an outright release. But the Jets said no. Given the Jets’ refusal to do so, it’s surprising that Favre has retired. If he had dragged his feet until 3:59 p.m. EST on February 26, the Jets might have had no option but to cut him in order to comply with the 2009 salary cap. In the end, though, it might have been ego and pride that prompted Favre to avoid a news cycle featuring the headline “Jets Cut Brett,” even if it would have given him what he tried to get from the Packers last summer -- a free and clear release. We’re still not sure this one is over. Last year, when Favre unretired, the Packers were able to absorb his $12 million cap number while they figured out what to do with him. This year, the Jets likely wouldn’t be able to account for an unretirement by Favre without scrambling to create the cap space. Our guess? If Favre gets the itch to play again in June, he’ll instruct Cook to call the Jets and inform them that Favre still wants to play. And then the Jets will have to decide whether to release him from the reserve-retired list, to welcome him (and his $13 million salary) back, or to create enough cap space to carry him while they try to trade him. In our view, ego and pride could keep Favre from reprising his routine from the summer of 2008. Then again, if he really wants to play and if the Vikings haven’t done much if anything to address their problems at the quarterback position, Favre might be willing to swallow his pride and play chicken with a team that would be facing a significant salary-cap conundrum if he were to perform his second annual cicada-style emergence from ranks of the former NFL players. Finally, we don’t rule out the possibility of Favre and/or Cook delaying the process of formally notifying the team of Favre’s intention to retire. Based on the report of an intended retirement, the Jets likely won’t take steps to clear enough cap room to accommodate Favre’s $13 million salary between now and February 26. So if the letter declaring an intent to retire doesn’t arrive before February 26, the Jets could be forced at 3:30 p.m. EST on February 26 to cut the cord, making Favre a free agent. If it happens that way, the headlines wouldn’t declare “Jets Cut Brett,” because Brett has already made it known to the media that he’s going to retire. Among the least-common-denominator crowd, the act of releasing Favre 15 days from now would likely be viewed as merely a paperwork thing.