Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Positional analysis: Linebacker
By Rich Cimini
This is part seven in a nine-part analysis of the Jets -- a position-by-position breakdown as we head toward the scouting combine and free agency:
2012 depth chart: David Harris (starter), Bart Scott (starter), Calvin Pace (starter), Bryan Thomas (starter), Garrett McIntyre, Demario Davis, Ricky Sapp, Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga (injured).
Overview: Oh, the waste. Never was so much money spent for so little. Harris, Pace and Scott made a combined $17.2 million in 2012, yet their total production reads like a stat line for one linebacker, not three -- 8.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles. For players that rarely came off the field, Harris and Pace made shockingly few impact plays. The front office squeezed a fourth season out of the starting quartet; they should've tried to break up the gang after three. It got old and slow (make that slower), although Harris' dropoff is a mystery because he's still in his prime.
Free agents: Thomas.
2013 personnel preview: Prepare for a new look, and not a moment too soon. Pace and Scott will be released any minute now, a salary-cap savings of $15.8 million. Replacing Scott won't be hard; Davis will get first crack at the job. He'll upgrade the athleticism, but he needs to improve his instincts. Thomas, who will be 34, won't be back, meaning they have to replace two OLBs. That won't be easy. They can fill one spot in the draft, possibly with the ninth pick (Jarvis Jones, anyone?). The other starting spot could go to the athletically limited McIntyre or a moderately priced free agent.
Salary-cap situation: Harris, entering the third year of a four-year, $36 million contract, is a prime candidate for restructuring. He has a team-high $13 million cap charge, including a $10.9 million base salary. Coming off a mediocre year, he should be willing to re-work his deal.