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Jets Release David Harris, Eric Decker to be Next - This Is Sports Zone
 
 

The New York Jets continued their massive roster overhaul Tuesday, parting ways with longtime linebacker David Harris, and informing wide receiver Eric Decker that he let go if he is not traded. Harris was released after 10 seasons with the Jets, who confirmed a report by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Decker will be released in the coming days if a trade can’t be facilitated. Decker, 30, underwent hip and shoulder surgery last fall, but he is healthy and has been practicing. In fact, both players practiced Tuesday before receiving the news.

The moves continued a stunning offseason purge by the Jets, who already had dumped several veterans, including Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Pryor. By cutting Harris and Decker, the Jets will save $13.75 million in cash payroll and cap space. Maccagnan insisted the Jets aren’t giving up on the season. Because of injuries, Decker was limited to three games last season. In his three seasons with the Jets, he caught 163 passes for 2,183 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Jets’ top receivers now are Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, who have a combined 122 career catches. The team reached out to retired star Steve Smith on Tuesday, seemingly out of due diligence, to gauge his interest in returning to the field, but Smith told the Jets he was not interested, the NFL Network reported. Without Decker and Harris, the Jets will have only four players age 30 or older on the roster: Josh McCown (37), Tanner Purdum (32), Matt Forte (31) and Steve McLendon (31).

Harris, 33, the Jets’ longest-tenured player, was blindsided by the move. He practiced Tuesday in his usual spot at starting middle linebacker and later talked with ESPN about his longevity as the only holdover from the Eric Mangini era (2006-08). Minutes later, he was summoned to coach Todd Bowles’ office for the news.

Jets owner Woody Johnson issued a statement on Harris, saying, “For a decade, David Harris represented the Jets with character and professionalism. He held himself to the highest of standards and always carried himself with a quiet dignity and humility. While these decisions are always difficult and the timing is not ideal, David will always be a Jet, and I appreciate his leadership and passion.”

The Jets reacquired linebacker Demario Davis on Thursday in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, but that had no bearing on Harris, Bowles said. Sources said there was a sense in the organization even before the Davis trade that Harris was in jeopardy of losing his job. Harris’ agents, Brian Mackler and Jim Ivler, expressed their displeasure in a statement to Schefter.

“Very disappointing in the timing of this event and the decision,” the statement said. “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.” Retirement is an option for Harris, sources told Schefter.

Now the Jets have a hole at middle linebacker. Potential replacements include Davis, Bruce Carter and Julian Stanford, according to Bowles. The coach seemed puzzled by the decision to wait until early June to cut Harris, considering that waiting this long had no benefit in terms of the salary cap. Harris was one of his favorite players. Bowles often referred to him as “the glue” on defense, always effusively praising his quiet leadership.

A second-round pick in 2007, Harris ranks No. 2 in tackles in team history (1,260). He called the signals for Bowles’ defense and played 87 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Harris, who was known for his durability, started and played in 137 of the past 138 games. He missed one game last season, snapping a streak of 121 consecutive starts. Before receiving the bad news, Harris told ESPN that he welcomed the return of Davis, who played with the Jets from 2012 to 2015. Davis was acquired in a trade that sent disgruntled safety Pryor to the Browns.

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