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PATRIOTS PAY TOP PICK TO JETS FOR BELICHICK

The Jets finally got the Patriots' first-round draft pick Thursday. New England finally got Bill Belichick. And, if Bill Parcells is to be believed, there finally is peace in all the land.

In phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Parcells said Thursday that he first patched up a feud with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, then worked out a compensation agreement that allowed the disgruntled Belichick to join New England as head coach. The last-minute arrangement, not finalized until Thursday morning, capped a month of tension that included league intercession, legal battles and a backdrop of acrimony between personal rivals.

"We came to an agreement that regardless of what happened with Bill Belichick that this kind of border war between the Jets and Patriots needed to come to a halt," said Parcells, whose divorce from the Patriots after the 1996 season fueled one of the NFL's most entertaining rivalries.

Belichick, notified early Thursday that a decision had been reached, drove to Foxboro, stopping at what Kraft termed "a secret spot off the road" at about 3 p.m. to execute a handshake agreement.

No contract had been signed by Thursday night, but the deal is believed to cover five years for close to $15 million.

In return for releasing Belichick, 47, the Jets received the Patriots' first-round draft choice -- 16th overall -- this year, along with New England's fourth- and seventh-round selections in 2001. The Jets shipped New England their fifth-round choice in 2001 and seventh-round pick in 2002.

The Jets also have their own first-round selection, 18th overall, this year.

Belichick also is expected to be named general manager in coming days.

Parcells left the Patriots, whom he guided to the AFC championship in 1996, to join the Jets in 1997.

Since then, the Patriots have gotten worse every year under Parcells' replacement, Pete Carroll.

If things had been done differently, he said in announcing Belichick's hiring, "Perhaps the New England Patriots, well, maybe they'd be playing down in Atlanta today."

To get Parcells, the Jets had to give Kraft a first-, second-, third- and fourth-round draft choice, although not in the same year.

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