With the 2012 NFL season now officially in the rear-view mirror, free agency is fast approaching. Come March, there will likely be a flurry of action as players find new teams, and vice-versa, prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.
The New York Jets have their fair share of free agents to be, including some big names like LaRon Landry and Shonn Greene, as well as both of their starting guards, and their starting tight end, Dustin Keller.
Despite those big names, however, I don’t think there is any impending free agent more crucial for the Jets than veteran defensive lineman Mike DeVito.
The 28-year-old DeVito came to the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2007, and became a prominent fixture in Rex Ryan‘s defensive line rotation when Ryan was hired as head coach in 2009.
One of the most accomplished defensive line gurus in the game, Ryan turned DeVito and linemate Sione Pouha into two of the better run defenders in the NFL over the past few seasons.
An unsung key cog, DeVito has proven to be an outstanding run stuffer capable of playing both the 3-4 defensive end and 3-4 nose tackle spots, and he’s not a liability in passing downs either.
DeVito has graded out in Pro Football Focus.com’s top 10 in run defense among 3-4 defensive ends each of the past three seasons, including a top four finish in 2011.
While the Jets have a superstar in the making in Muhammad Wilkerson, and another promising young lineman in Quinton Coples, there’s no reason not to re-sign Mike DeVito as well.
DeVito showed some impressive versatility in 2012, when he was pressed into service at nose tackle thanks to injury woes at that position. There’s no reason to think DeVito will slow down anytime soon.
When Rex Ryan implores his players to “play like Jets,” DeVito epitomizes the hard-nosed, relentless attitude that embodies that spirit. He’s earned a new deal with the team he grew up rooting for, without question.
The Jets defensive line is in good hands with Wilkerson and Coples, but every other defensive lineman on the roster has some kind of question mark to them. DeVito is not a luxury, he’s a necessity.
With all due respect to LaRon Landry, no Jets free agent deserves a new deal more than Mike DeVito. Period.