With free agency set to begin March 9, we'll examine the New York Jets' top free agents over the next few days:
Player: Demario Davis
Previous contract: Four years, $2.8 million (rookie contract)
2015 stats: Davis recorded 57 solo tackles, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2012. He finished with two sacks. He also had nine tackles-for-loss, 11 quarterback hits, five pass break-ups and one fumble recovery, per the Jets' in-house stats.
The case to keep him: Davis is a three-year starter (weak inside) entering the prime of his career, meaning his best football should be ahead of him. He's an every-down linebacker -- or at least he was until the second half of the 2015 season, when he was demoted into a platoon with Erin Henderson. Davis is incredibly durable (he's never missed a game) and you never have to worry about him getting into trouble off the field.
The case to let him go: For a player with his athleticism, Davis doesn't make enough big plays -- no forced fumbles, one interception and only 6.5 sacks in four seasons. Those are low numbers for a player who has participated in more than 2,700 defensive snaps in the past three years. Unbeknownst to people outside the organization, he played some reps at David Harris' "Mike" position in 2015, which may have hurt his numbers. Some scouts say he doesn't have keen instincts for the position, and it shows up at times in pass coverage -- i.e. using the wrong technique. He also led the team in missed tackles (16) last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Davis is a competent starter with a body of work that should put him in the $3 million to $4 million per year range, but there's not enough production to justify that kind of contract in the Jets' salary structure.
Crystal ball: It's premature to say Davis is a goner, but it seems clear the Jets will let him test the market. They may have prioritized Henderson over Davis because they can get Henderson on the cheap. There will be no shortage of suitors. Davis could draw interest from the Bills, Chiefs and 49ers, all of whom have former Jets coaches on their staffs. Chances are he'll get more money from a team other than the Jets.