Tuesday’s news that the New York Jets plan to release David Harris is the latest reminder that the NFL is truly a business and has no place for sentimentality.
The release of Harris is the latest decision the Jets have made to release an overpaid veteran in an attempt to clear both cap space and rid the roster of older players.
That wave started — at least to some extent — with the surprising news of D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s retirement prior to the 2016 season. The trend picked up this offseason, as the Jets opted to cut Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Nick Folk and Brandon Marshall.
Releasing Revis, Mangold, Marshall, Folk and Harris has netted New York over $35 million in cap space this offseason.
For some Jets fans, the cuts represented an element of sentimentality. All five of those players have left their mark on the franchise, from Folk’s game-winning field goal in the playoffs to Harris’ interception of Tom Brady in the divisional round of the playoffs.
In reality, the cuts are a bitter reminder that the NFL is truly a business.
As the Jets gear up for a 2017 season — one that could very well end in a high pick in the 2018 NFL Draft — saving money and giving young players an opportunity to play could be considered the two top priorities for the team. By cutting these veterans, New York is doing both of those things.
The decision to cut Harris was likely made easier after New York traded to re-acquire Demario Davis from Cleveland, a move that equipped the Jets with another starting-caliber inside linebacker.
While the trade for Davis possibly factored into the decision to cut Harris, some, including Harris’ agents, were not pleased with how it was handled.
“Very disappointing in the timing of this event and the decision,” Harris’ agents, Brian Mackler and Jim Ivler, said according to Adam Schefter. “The Jets could have done this prior to free agency instead of waiting three months, especially for a player who has exhibited nothing but loyalty and class for 10 years.”
That accusation makes more sense given the fact that Harris is still a serviceable NFL linebacker.
The other moves required the Jets to take a risk on youngsters on the roster. New York drafted two cornerbacks and two wide receivers in the 2017 NFL Draft, all of whom will get a chance to make the roster. At center, Wesley Johnson, who has made eight career NFL starts, will likely take over the starting role from Mangold, a staple of consistency for a decade.
While the decision to get rid of every player from the magical 2009 and 2010 playoff runs may bring a tear to the eyes of Jets fans — and some may not have been handled the best way — they all make sense. Young players such as Charone Peake, Juston Burris, Ben Ijalana and ArDarius Stewart will get a chance to play significant time — and that is best for the current Jets.