Filling out the Linebacking Corps

Gregory Shamus

There will be new faces in the middle of the defense next season. It's just a matter of how many.

It's presumed that the New York Jets will cut Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Bart Scott relatively soon and free up a massive amount of cap space. What then will they do to fill out those starting positions?

Let's start at inside linebacker. David Harris will return, and hopefully a healthy nose tackle will help Harris return to the dominating form of not too long ago. It's presumed that Demario Davis will start alongside Harris as Scott's replacement. The team also has Nick Bellore currently on the roster, who is a special teams stud but has not had much experience at the ILB position. Presumably, the Jets will bring in some backups from either the draft or undrafted free agent pile (I'm betting on the latter). It's also possible that they will bring back Scott for the veteran minimum, with the expectation that he would be purely a backup, as it's painfully obvious his age is catching up to him.

At the outside linebacker position, the team will have no starters entrenched, although presumably Garrett McIntyre, who received some playing time last season when Bryan Thomas was injured, will take one of the roles. Ricky Sapp is also a possibility, however the team has shown zero interest in him as a player as he's received almost no playing time. Again, it's possible the team brings back Pace or Thomas for the minimum, however I doubt it. If I had to choose between the two, I would pick Pace, as Thomas has been injured too much lately and is having personal issues off the field that may be an unnecessary distraction. It's more likely that the team drafts for this position or finds a free agent than for the ILB position.

Unless the team brings back some of its old guards in Scott, Pace, or Thomas for cheap, we're likely going to see a lot of new faces in the middle of our defense. The team may be relying on up to three first-time starters. Rex Ryan is going to have his work cut out for him.

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