By Tyson Rauch
Allow me to preface this article by stating that I am a huge fan of Ray Lewis. I admire the way “Big Play Ray” plays the game, from his intensity and leadership, to his focus and determination. Lewis is a first ballot Hall of Fame player that reinvented the middle linebacker position. With all of that being said, here is a list of reasons why the Jets should not sign Ray Lewis if he decides to leave Baltimore.
After last year’s offseason spending spree, to the tune of $140 million dollars, the Jets do not find themselves with a lot of cap room. To make matters worse, if Brett Favre decides to return, Gang Green will have to restructure contracts and or release players to get under the cap.
Ray Lewis is heading into his 14th year in the NFL and coming off of a Pro-Bowl year. Ray has always been paid like one of the best linebackers in the NFL, and with this being his last contract, will once again look to break the bank. In terms of finances the Jets and Mr. Lewis are not a match.
Wear and Tear
Ray Lewis plays one of the most physical positions on the field at middle linebacker. Over the past 13 years Lewis has made over 1,000 tackles and assisted in hundreds more. At 33, soon to be 34 years old it is only a matter of time before Ray’s body begins to substantially breakdown. Even though Lewis played in all 16 games this year, he missed games the three years prior due to injuries. Could it be that Ray went the extra mile this year playing for a new contract?
In addition to the health concerns, Ray Lewis is on the downside of his career and has lost a step. Granted Lewis keeps himself in tremendous shape, but father time slows down all great warriors. In the 3-4 attack style defense Ray will be required to make a lot of plays. Does he still have the ability to fit that role?
The bottom line is that the wear and tear Lewis’ body has taken over the years makes Ray a risky acquisition, especially with his price tag.
With the hiring of Rex Ryan the Jets will be looking to be more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. The Jets already have some playmakers in place that will fit this attacking style of defense, but there are a couple of glaring holes. The first area that needs to be addressed is the cornerback position playing opposite Pro-Bowler Darrelle Revis. The second position that causes some concern is the safety position playing next to Kerry Rhodes. The Jets defense struggled against the pass last year and both of these positions should be a top priority in the offseason.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets could be in need of a quarterback if Favre retires. The Jets will have to bring in a veteran presence even with Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff on the roster. In addition the wide receiver position could need some attention if Laveranues Coles begins to squabble about his contract. Not to mention the Jets only legitimate playmaker Leon Washington is heading into his contract year.
So in terms of need, matched up against available salary cap space, Ray Lewis should not be a priority.
As much as Gang Green fans would love to see Ray Lewis come to the Jets, it just does not make sense. Ray’s price tag no longer matches his skill set or addresses any of the Jets top needs. It is time to stop becoming infatuated with big time names and bring in players that can make an impact on the Jets for years to come.