Before you know it, your favorite NFL team will undergo a dramatic facelift and hypothetically improve their prospects for the 2014 season. Don’t forget, however, the 2013 rosters are still set and old faces will play just as important roles as the new ones. As of today there are seven days until NFL Free Agency and the start of the new league year. So, each day, we at TOJ will address a new position group and where there will be change. Today, linebackers.
2013 New York Jets Depth Chart:
- Quinton Coples – Under contract through 2015
- David Harris – Under contract for 2014
- Demario Davis – Under contract through 2015
- Antwan Barnes – Injured Reserve, Under contract through 2015
- Calvin Pace – Unrestricted Free Agent
- Garret McIntyre – Restricted Free Agent
- Jermaine Cunningham – Under contract for 2014
- Josh Mauga – Injured Reserve, Unrestricted Free Agent
- Nick Bellore – Restricted Free Agent
- Troy Davis – Injured Reserve, Under contract through 2015
As Currently Constituted:
Troy Davis, Mauga, and Barnes all ended the season on Injured Reserve – making the linebacker corps seem more depleted than at the beginning of the season. However, a quick glance at the current depth chart reveals some glaring holes entering 2014. Quinton Coples is a linebacker only in name and there is an open roster spot opposite him (should Calvin Pace depart via free agency). There is ZERO depth as key backups/special teamers – McIntryre, Mauga, and Bellore – have yet to be resigned. If left untouched, there will be a mere six linebackers on the roster next season.
Keeping it In House:
Pace played admirably this season and racked up a career high 10 sacks with much of the offensive attention going to his line-mates. The Jets have expressed interest in bringing Pace back but have yet to reach out to the 34 year old. Pace’s inflated sack numbers could drive up his demand around the league. An aging linebacker whose most effective year came in tandem with a dominant supporting cast should not be overpaid. If the asking price is too much, it may be time to say goodbye.
McIntryre, Mauga, and Bellore (the rest of the free agent linebackers) played key roles as rotational players and special teamers. Their contributions largely went unnoticed but they are all very valuable players and the kind that help you fill out a roster. At the right price, all three should certainly return. That being said, the Jets will be implementing an entirely new system under new Special Teams Coordinator, Thomas McGaughey. These old stalwarts and their potential replacements will be on the same page, as far as the playbook is concerned.
With Orakpo franchised and Worlids’ likely outrageous asking price, the options for the Jets are limited (as far as starters go). O’Brien Schofield is a back up on a Seattle team where there is a log jam of starting quality players. Schofield has shown more than enough to earn a chance at a starting gig. Everson Griffin is an intriguing situational pass rusher from Minnesota that would technically be considered a nickel, rush OLB in the Jets scheme.
Speaking of the Jets scheme, because it is so varied, the need for true “starters” at any position is less vital. Ryan mixes and matches his players to put them in the best position to win (wether that be out of necessity or preference is another conversation entirely). Right now (with Wilkerson, Richardson, Coples, Harrison, Barnes, Harris, and Davis) the Jets have seven guys that can get the job done. However, clearly, more depth is needed and there are upgrades to be made.
For more on the FA LBs see: