Since the New York Jets went on a salary cutting spree earlier in the offseason, as they have needed to bring in linebackers to replace Bart Scott and Calvin Pace.
The Jets brought in Antwan Barnes on a three-year deal as one of the replacements. Needing another linebacker, the Jets figured the best way to replace Calvin Pace is with…Calvin Pace, himself.
Obviously the logic behind this signing goes something like, “Who better to fill a hole left by Pace than Pace on a cheaper contract?” The theory is sound, but would make more sense if Pace was any good.
The one comparison being thrown around for Pace is he’s like an inning-eater pitcher in baseball. An inning-eater might not have the best ERA or lead the team in wins — or any pitching statistics that actually matter — but he’ll be healthy enough to throw 200 innings a year and not tax the bullpen. While that comparison holds some truth — Pace has played all 16 games in the past two seasons and was on the field for 94% of New York’s defensive snaps in 2012 — there’s no need for an inning eater in football.
A pitcher who can pitch every fifth day in a 162 game season with a 25 man roster is much more valuable than a linebacker who can stay on the football field.
Pace could also be considered to a detriment to the overall production of the team because while he’s staying out on the field for over 1,000 defensive snaps, he’s not doing much. In the 1,009 snaps Pace was on the field for the Jets in 2012 he made 55 total tackles, averaging a tackle every 18.2 snaps. Add in no forced fumbles and that seems to resemble a lot of wasted space.
Follow this hypothetical scenario for a second. Instead of re-signing Pace, the Jets sign veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes. Last season Spikes averaged a tackle every nine snaps — more than double the rate of Pace. Spikes also had more total tackles, 78, in 303 less snaps than Pace. Spikes did get those tackles playing on the inside of a 3-4, but in this scenario Spikes doesn’t have to be Pace — Barnes can be Pace, Spikes can be Scott.
The more important part in bringing in Spikes over Pace — the player doesn’t have to be Spikes, I’m just using Spikes as an example — is those 300 snaps that open up for another player. Instead of Pace just being on the field but not doing much of anything, a younger player can rotate into the extra 300 snaps and develop during games. And if there’s one thing the Jets need to concentrate on, it’s player development.
Whether it’s allowing a player like Garrett McIntyre more time on the field or giving a linebacker taken in next week’s draft some on-field experience, either would be more beneficial than having Pace clog a position.
This also comes down to lost opportunity cost for the Jets. The financial terms of Pace’s one-year deal have not yet been released, but even before the re-signing Pace counted for $3 million worth of dead money on the Jets’ 2013 salary cap. Even if the contract is only $1 million (for the Jets’ sake it shouldn’t be more) Woody Johnson and John Idzik have decided to pay the equivalent of $4 million to Pace to continue to be Calvin Pace than pay another player to be possibly better then Calvin Pace — the probability of which is high.
Sure the Jets knew what they were getting when they re-signed Pace, and because of that they should know they can do better.
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