If recent reports are to be believed, then the Jets can’t wait to part with linebacker Bart Scott, with multiple sources and outlets verifying that the team has allowed the linebacker to seek a trade.
Letting Scott, after three seasons with the team, exchange his green and white for another uniform would be the worst move the Jets could make at this time, typifying a franchise that cuts ties too soon.
Trading or even releasing Scott, surely a difficult decision for both parties, would be just the latest example of a team that lacks a clear plan for now and the future.
Facing an offseason of upheaval, the byproduct of an 8-8 season, the Jets are going to make moves. It doesn’t help that after resigning D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes and David Harris all to mega contracts the past two seasons, the Jets don’t have a lot of flexibility for free agency.
Hence why Scott’s head is on the proverbial chopping block.
Scott is due a guaranteed $4.2 million next year per his restructured deal which was completed last summer, making him an enticing option to leave the team. This, coupled with his exit from the team’s facility this past January when he gave the finger to photographers upon leaving the locker room, would make it seem like his days are numbered with the Jets.
This would be a colossal mistake by the Jets. Scott very much remains the face of the franchise to the fans — this despite the fact that quarterback Mark Sanchez and his emotional rollercoaster is constantly shoved down the throat of fans as the future of the Jets.
Even though he is 31 years old and coming off his worst statistical season since 2005, Scott wasn’t at the core of the Jets problems. In fact, he was one of the few players who seemed to understand the growing frustration surrounding the underperforming team. Selflessly, he took the role of a player willing to sacrifice himself by taking on blockers and letting the other linebackers make plays.
Consistently, the Jets have struggled under general manager Mike Tannenbaum to keep players in place who carry weight in the locker room and have earned the admiration of the jaded fan base. The team has cut ways with a number of these players over the past few years, jettisoning veteran experience with ties to the team for cap room to make big splash signings.
It is a philosophy that has kept the Jets as cellar dwellers of the AFC East for much of the past four decades. Buy now, pay later — even at the expense of team chemistry.
Scott’s play isn’t perfect, but his value to the team goes beyond his semi-reasonable cap number. A team in flux can’t afford to lose what Scott brings to the table.
Last year, the Jets captains were among the least experienced leaders on any team in the AFC, both in terms of years in the league and time spent with their particular team. When the Jets won games, which they did in streaks, the locker room was fine.
But when the Jets lost, and they had three multi-game losing streaks last season, the team appeared rudderless. There was no one in the locker room, not the green Sanchez or the moody and maligned Santonio Holmes, who could step up and speak with authority. Scott was the one player with clout in the locker room who could be that voice.
It doesn’t make sense in a team screaming for continuity and leadership that a fan favorite would be jettisoned so soon. Scott, after all, was one of the first players three years ago to follow head coach Rex Ryan from Baltimore to New York. Since then, he’s been the player to set the tone and was chief catalyst in the team’s offseason workouts during the lockout. He brought the team together when management couldn’t do so, far away from the glaring eye of the New York media.
But that’s neither here nor there. It is all about the Benjamins at this point and how many the team can save by parting ways with him.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.