A very savvy move was made by Mike Maccagnan on Thursday, the New York Jets general manager trading away a piece in Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns to get a much needed talent back (again) in Demario Davis. It is a move that fits a need on this team’s roster but also fills an important need off the field.
It is no secret that the Jets are likely to struggle this, a team in rebuilding mode having jettisoned their starting quarterback, star wide receiver and future Hall of Fame cornerback the past few months. But in bringing in Davis, this team got a starting inside linebacker who brings with him a strong locker room presence.
And on a team that right now is going to have to fight to get a handful of wins, that strong voice that Davis brings is going to be important.
As a rookie in 2012, then Jets head coach Rex Ryan drew a comparison between Davis and NFL star linebacker Ray Lewis, known for his fiery locker room speeches and demeanor. Davis, according to Ryan, possessed those same attributes and during his four years with the Jets, he showed a growing maturity and presence among his teammates.
A presence that returns on Thursday after a trade with the Cleveland Browns brings Davis back to the organization that drafted him six years ago. It couldn’t come at a better time for a team and a franchise again in transition.
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On the field, the move makes plenty of sense. Davis performed at a high-level on a bad Browns team last year and is a good run-stopper in the 3-4. He’s also durable, having never missed a game in five full NFL seasons.
The trade also sees the Jets part ways with Pryor, a former first round pick and a disappointment at safety, selected by John Idzik, a disappointment of a general manager. The trade frees cap space for the Jets while adding a starting quality inside linebacker, a position of major concern heading into a season that likely is going to be ugly.
That is where Davis, he of the strong voice and impassioned locker room speeches, can help the Jets.
This team is all about 2018 where they will have plenty of cap space and a young team should begin maturing. Davis can help hold this unit together as they plod through November and December football that will mean little in the standings but is all about development for next year. That he becomes one of the most reliable players in the two-deep certainly doesn’t hurt either.
But he is more than an athlete, more than a starter in this defense. He will be expected to bind together and keep motivated a young group that might just get dejected as the losses mount, an elder statesman who still has plenty of football left.
In other words, a perfect move for a very imperfect roster.