Pace has been with the Jets since 2008, signing with Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum as one of the more heavily pursued free agents from their much 2008 free agent class. Since joining New York in 2008, Pace has only missed eight games, playing in 88 and totaling 368 tackles and 38 sacks in that time.
While he's never been a sack machine, Pace has historically been at his absolute best setting the edge for the Jets. His play seemed to deteriorate in that respect in recent years but he was put in a spot to succeed this season with few exterior pass rushers.
Pace benefited from the defensive line's dominance and the injury to Antwan Barnes. While he had racked up a few sacks prior to Barnes' injury Pace was put in the position to rush the passer more afterwards. Pace has never been a speedy pass-rusher, but he is relentless and it translated to a double digit sack year for Pace.
After a 10 sack season on a veteran minimum deal, we can understand why the Jets would be willing to bring back Pace; if he is willing to sign another low-level deal there's virtually no downside. Steven Peterman, Antonio Garay, Braylon Edwards ... as the Idzik-led Jets showed last summer, they were willing to bring in veterans only to cut them if they didn't think they justified a roster spot. As he demonstrated in 2013, Pace seems to have some gas left in the tank but the Pace can't be a long-term answer at the spot.
If Pace's 10 sack season proved anything, it was that the dominance of the defensive line can put solid athletes with a motor in a successful position to rush the passer. With the Sons of Anarchy the Jets don't need to add a Jadaveon Clowney to effectively get pressure from the outside. A competent Day Two or even Day Three draftee or ham-and-egger in free agency might suffice.
If Pace is willing to sign a deal with little to no guarantees, we think the Jets should bring back Pace and have the luxury of deciding his fate this summer should they find a more active player who can fit the role without much of a dropoff in play at the position.