Former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine now works for the Buffalo Bills. Which of his former players might his new team target in free agency?
Virtually from the moment that reports surfaced indicating that Mike Pettine would move from New York Jets defensive coordinator to the same position with the Buffalo Bills, people began to speculate which current Jets defenders might join Pettine in Orchard Park.
The Jets have four impending free agents on the defensive side of the ball, and reports exist saying that three more will likely be released as soon as possible. Let's take a look at those seven names and do a little speculating as to which the Bills may show interest in. (For the sake of the discussion, we'll assume that Pettine will want to run the same type of scheme that he's been in with Rex Ryan for the past decade.)
- DL Mike DeVito (free agent): Thanks to the presence of 2012 first-round pick Quinton Coples, there's a very good chance that DeVito, 29 in June, will get a better deal elsewhere than if he returned as a Jets backup. In a Bills 3-4, the 6'3", 305-pound DeVito could be a starter as an end, where he would conceivably get the nod over Alex Carrington under Pettine. The team may very well be in the market for, at minimum, a wave player if they'd like to upgrade on impending free agent Spencer Johnson.
- OLB Bryan Thomas (free agent): 34 in June, Thomas is a pretty significant injury risk that has not been a productive player for several seasons now. He's unlikely to be retained by the Jets, but obviously is well-versed in Pettine's system.
- S LaRon Landry (free agent): He's probably going to be one of the more sought-after defensive backs on the market this season after a strong (and more importantly, healthy) 2012 campaign. Landry, 28, has only spent a year in Pettine's system and will likely require significant capital, but he'd be an upgrade over the team's current strong safety platoon.
- S Yeremiah Bell (free agent): One of the older safeties in the league, Bell, 35 in March, is nonetheless still ticking. He's played a full 16 games in each of the past five seasons and accumulated 89 tackles and a sack last season. Assuming that the Bills will be wise enough to retain the services of Jairus Byrd, it's debatable as to whether or not he'd be an upgrade over George Wilson or Da'Norris Searcy, particularly having only spent one season with Pettine.
- OLB Calvin Pace (possible cut): Think of Pace as a healthier, slightly younger (he's 32) version of Thomas - he hasn't been productive in quite a while, but will know the Ryan/Pettine defense like the back of his hand.
- ILB Bart Scott (possible cut): Scott has played for Ryan as long as Pettine's coached with him. While Scott will not play for the Jets in 2013 at his current salary, there have been reports that he'd be willing to take a pay cut to keep playing in New York. The Bills' need for improved linebacker play is well-documented, but Scott has faded over the past year or so.
- S Eric Smith (possible cut): 30 in March, Smith has four years working under Ryan/Pettine, but his role diminished somewhat last year thanks to knee and hip injuries. Again, it's debatable as to whether or not he'd be considered an upgrade over Wilson or Searcy, but unlike the previous two safeties on the list, Smith will have extensive knowledge and experience with Pettine's system.
Do any of these names interest you at all, Bills fans?