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Bryan Thomas: Stay or Go? Part 1: Introduction

When the Jets took Bryan Thomas in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, it raised some eyebrows. The Jets already had two talented young defensive ends, John Abraham and Shaun Ellis. The team was in need of a safety, and the University of Miami's Ed Reed was on the board. It is even more frustrating to think about this in hindsight.

The original plan seemed to be to start Thomas at end and move Shaun Ellis to tackle to put plenty of pass rushers on the defensive line. That did not work out. Ellis could not handle tackle, and Thomas did not do much as an end. The experiment quickly faded. Thomas remained a backup until 2006, which brought a trade of Abraham and a new scheme. Bryan moved to outside linebacker in the 3-4 and had the best year of his career in a contract year. He earned a new contract with 8.5 sacks. Ever since there, he has not produced many impact plays and gone back to being less of a contributor.

Thomas is something of an anomaly, a first round bust who has lasted nine years with his original team and still starts. Will that last? Cutting him could save $3.7 million against the cap in 2011. This is worth considering.