Thoughts on Calvin Pace's return

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
5:50
PM ET
Outside linebacker Calvin Pace has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract to return to the New York Jets for a seventh season. A few takeaways:

Pace
1. Exception to the Idzik rule: This is an un-Idzik-ian move because of Pace's age (33). General manager John Idzik has been trying to rebuild the roster for a year with younger players, sticking to one-year, minimum-salary deals for those on the wrong side of 30. Pace fell into that category last year, getting cut and re-signing for one year, $1 million. This time, Idzik made an exception, essentially rewarding Pace for a career-high, 10-sack season. It's usually not a smart practice, paying for past performance with a player near the end of his careers, but we're not talking about a lot of money here. Pace has a strong ally in Rex Ryan, who undoubtedly pushed for the return.

2. Not done yet: Bill Parcells used to have a saying for guys like Pace. He called them hold-the-fort guys -- i.e. holding the position until a younger player can be integrated into the system. The Jets have to think about finding an heir apparent at strong-side linebacker; put it on an already lengthy list of needs. They could address it on the second day of the draft, especially if Auburn's Dee Ford slips into the second round. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier might be interesting, but he's undersized for the Jets' scheme. It'll get real interesting if UCLA's Anthony Barr slips to the Jets in the first round (18th pick), which isn't farfetched. How would another front-seven pick grab you? The Jets have a few power rushers; they need a speed rusher.

3. Deceiving numbers: I wouldn't expect another double-digit sack season from Pace. As I wrote in a recent blog, his total from last season is misleading because he caught some big breaks and benefitted from excellent pass coverage. Consider: Six of the 10 sacks occurred when the quarterback held the ball for at least 4.0 seconds, unofficially -- i.e. a coverage sack. Another 1.5 sacks came when he was unblocked -- blown blocking assignments by the offense. Give Pace credit for finishing, just don't write him down for another 10 spot.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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