Demario Davis had the chance to sign with several NFL teams during free agency. No offer, however, came from the team that drafted him and then brought him back last year via a trade.
Davis signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, a deal that certainly backs up his play with the New York Jets in 2017 where he was one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. The Jets weren’t a team that was in the mix for him, ironically enough.
But according to a league source on Thursday night, the Jets were not one of the teams to offer Davis a contract or even attempt to get him to come back for 2018 and beyond. The source said that Davis had contract offers from several other teams including the Saints and interest from a half dozen in all but the Jets did not reach out about a contract for Davis.
Davis confirmed it Friday morning.
"The shocking thing was the Jets didn't make me an offer, Davis told the New Orleans Advocate. "So that made my decision easy, because all I had to do was look at the contenders."
Coming off a year where he had a career-high 97 tackles and five sacks, Davis was in the conversation of being a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection. He was a third-round pick of the Jets in 2012 who signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 2016. The Jets then traded former first round pick Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns to bring Davis back.
They were rewarded not only with Davis playing like one of the best middle linebackers in the league last year but also with a strong, emotional locker room presence.
It is a curious move from the Jets not to reward Davis for the season he had. Not only did he play a role in keeping the locker room tight and cohesive in a 5-11 season, but his play on the field and fit in head coach Todd Bowles 3-4 defense appeared to be an ideal match.
He also showed greater ability and mobility in coverage this year as well as getting after the quarterback, attributes that the Saints clearly noticed.