With free agency set to start with the new league year on March 12 and the New York Jets not having much, or any cap flexibility, this week will be spent previewing some cheap free agents who could still help greatly on the field. This is part two of four. Click here for part one.
The New York Jets spent a large part of the beginning of the offseason cutting costs from their overpriced linebacking corps. The subtractions of Bart Scott and Calvin Pace helped the Jets with some money issues, but left some more holes on the field.
While free agent linebackers such as Justin Durant and Dannell Ellerbe could be ideal for the Jets — both 27-years old, one coming off a 103-tackle season and the other, who didn’t play for the Detroit Lions, coming off a win in the Super Bowl — both will most likely be overpaid for those reasons, and out of the Jets’ price range.
It won’t be impossible, though, to find a linebacker cheaply to fill one of the holes. This brings us to our second underwhelming name: Tim Dobbins.
Dobbins won’t be a star linebacker or tally a 100 tackle season, but he will bring consistency. With Dobbins in the lineup, you can expect 14-16 games played with 40-60 tackles when playing in a part time role. Last season for the Houston Texans, Dobbins totaled 43 tackles in 14 games. Calvin Pace had 55 tackles playing all 16 games for the Jets.
The tackle numbers aren’t far apart, but they become much different when you consider Pace was on the field for 97 percent of the Jets’ defensive snaps while Dobbins had his tackles in 37 percent of Houston’s. That 12-tackle difference could easily be made up and surpassed with an increase in Dobbins’ time on the field.
Adjusting Dobbins’ tackles per snap ratio to equal the number of snaps Pace was on the field would give Dobbins 92 tackles on the season. Of course that’s not a realistic goal to set for Dobbins, but it does show he does more with the time he does spend on the field.
Dobbins also did all of this work on a one-year, $700,000 contract last season. Even if Dobbins receives a 50 percent increase in pay during free agency, he’ll still only be barely north of $1 million per year.
Paying just $1 million a year for those 40-60 tackles would be a great deal for the Jets. It would give them both good veteran play on the field and flexibility to make another move — something the Jets desperately need. Add a young linebacker or two through the draft to pair with Dobbins and David Harris and the Jets could see linebacker improve to a position of on-field productivity.
Dobbins may not be a flashy name, but the Jets shouldn’t worry about flashy. Flashy got them in the position in the first place.
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