New York Jets: Which Linebackers will return next year?

By Raymond Mencke
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets will have a number of new faces next season.  One area that will be hit the most is the linebackers.  The Jets are over the salary cap for next season but they can save a bunch of money by making a few cuts on defense.

Bart Scott isn’t the same player on the field that he’s been his first two seasons with New York.  He battled injuries this year and finished with his Jet career low of 60 tackles.  He missed one game and didn’t start two others.  With a new general manager coming in it’s reasonable to think Scott won’t be back in 2013.  If he is cut, the Jets will save 7.15 million dollars.

Outside linebacker Calvin Pace will probably also be cut and he’ll save the Jets $8.56 million.  Pace hasn’t been the pass rusher the Jets envisioned after signing him as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals.  He finished with three sacks this season and his sack numbers have decreased every year since 2009.

Long time Jet Bryan Thomas has probably played his last game with the team as well.  He’s an unrestricted free agent and the team should look to find someone younger to replace him.  Thomas has only played 16 games the last two seasons and was actually cut earlier this year.  He’s run into some off the field issues since the season ended which doesn’t help his chances of a return.  He was charged with assaulting his wife and possessing drugs not long after the conclusion of the season.

David Harris has been a Jet since being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft from Michigan.  Harris is signed through 2014 and has a salary cap number of $13,000,000 next year.  It’s highly unlikely the team would dump their leading tackler but they would save $4,000,000.  I expect Harris to be back as the only starter from the past season.

Garrett McIntyre and DeMario Davis could be starters next year.  McIntyre started four games for the team while Thomas was out.  McIntyre finished with 3.5 sacks and 35 tackles.  He doesn’t make a lot of money either which is a positive.  Davis started three games in his rookie year in place of Scott.  The team is very high on the third round pick out of Arkansas State.  Davis posted 35 tackles this year and should be the starter next to Harris for years to come.

The other linebackers on the roster are Nick Bellore, Ricky Sapp and Josh Mauga.  Bellore is one of the better special teams players on the team and is signed through next season.  He’ll be back next season.  Sapp spent most of the season on the practice squad but played in four games.  He didn’t register any stats.  Mauga was lost early in the season due to injury.  Mauga is a restricted free agent and it’s unclear if he’ll return.

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