Bryan Thomas expected to return

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
6:09
PM ET
If the Jets really wanted to move on from Bryan Thomas, they would've done it in the offseason, when he was a free agent -- a 33-year-old linebacker coming off Achilles-tendon and shoulder surgeries.

[+] EnlargeBryan Thomas
AP Photo/Joe MahoneyBryan Thomas
But they didn't. They re-signed Thomas, a former first-round pick and longtime starter, to a one-year, $990,000 contract in March. I remember having a conversation with Thomas in late May, and he told me he was touched the organization stuck by him even as he was rehabbing from the operations.

"The organization has been wonderful," Thomas said at the time. "For them to re-sign me in this situation, I was truly grateful. They could've said, 'Go.'"

Technically, Thomas is free to go after being released Saturday, but does this sound like someone who wants to leave the only NFL team he's ever known? Hardly. Barring something totally unforeseen, he will re-sign with the Jets on Monday or Tuesday. (Besides, does anyone think they'd eat the $761,765 remaining on his $925,000 base salary?)

This move was all about roster management. Down to four cornerbacks with Ellis Lankster (back) out of Sunday's game, the Jets wanted to sign DB Donnie Fletcher from the practice squad to give them an extra pair of legs to help them against the 90-degree heat and the Dolphins' hurry-up offense. Thomas, plagued by a hamstring injury, wasn't going to play anyway, so they released him and promoted Fletcher.

Thomas doesn't lose any money; his entire salary is guaranteed as a vested veteran. He just spends two or three days in limbo. Sure, he can listen if another team calls, but it's highly unlikely he'd leave. The Jets were loyal to him, and he'll be loyal to them.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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