Since we've started the TJB Hall of Fame, we have always tried to recognize players from a variety of different eras of the Jets whether they are Super Bowl champions from the sixties, the dark days of the seventies, the rising team of the eighties or even more recent times. We have also tried to recognize those who had long and storied careers with the team, but also those whose contributions with the team while valuable, were short-lived due to the nature of the sport. With our last induction of the 2013 TJB Hall of Fame class we want to recognize a player who had a key role in helping the Jets become the resurgent team they were in the eighties, Lance Alan Mehl.

Lance Mehl played eight seasons for the New York Jets from 1980-1987 after a stellar career as an All-American at Penn State University. Mehl's talent for the game at higher levels became clear when as a backup at Penn State, Mehl tallied three sacks in limited playing time. The following season as a junior, Mehl became the Linebacker in "Linebacker U" and accumulated 96 tackles and four interceptions on a team that finished the regular season undefeated but lost to Alabama in their bowl game. As a senior, the co-captain's work on the field only improved and he earned second-team All-America honors.

At a time where the Jets were rebuilding the organization from the seventies, the Jets selected Mehl in the third round (#69 overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft to be a key defensive piece to help the Jets return to glory. While the Sack Exchange made the headlines of the era, it was Mehl and his fellow linebackers that helped seal the dominance of the Jets defense. Mehl only started one game as a rookie, but became much more involved in the defense in the coming years.

1981 was Mehl's first year as a starter as one of the team's outside linebackers, immediately demonstrating his value to the defense. For a linebacker, aside from the tackle totals, Mehl had an uncanny knack to create turnovers via interception. It was his interceptions that later became his hallmark as a Jet defender.

In 1981, Mehl notched three picks; two of those interceptions came in wins against Houston and Green Bay and helped propel the Jets into the playoffs. It was the first time the Jets had gone to the playoffs since December 20th, 1969.  At that time, the Jets lost to the Chiefs the year following their Super Bowl.  In 1981 the result was the same; the Jets lost to the Bills 31-27, but it was clear to the NFL that the Jets were again on the rise.

In 1982, Mehl started nine games due the strike-shortened season and was an instrumental member of a team that fell one game short of reaching the Super Bowl.  At the time, Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman wrote that the strike fouled things up and players like Mehl were wrongly left off the All-Pro team.

Zimmerman's words proved prophetic just five days later.  Mehl, who had two interceptions in the strike-shortened season clearly wasn't done as the Jets went into the playoffs.  After blowing out the Bengals 44-17 in the first round, the Jets traveled to Los Angeles to play Jim Plunkett and the Raiders.  After battling back in the fourth quarter and with just under five minutes remaining, the Jets clung to a three point edge (17-14) thanks in part to a long pass to Wesley Walker and then a short touchdown run by Scott Dierking.

It looked tense for the Jets as Plunkett led the Raiders offense with time running out, but it was Mehl who gained national attention by intercepting two of Plunkett's passes in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory for the Jets.  That game defined Mehl's career and legacy with the Jets.

1983 wasn't as successful a year for the Jets as the Jets ended with a 7-9 record.  Even so, Mehl had his best season as a NFL player, leading the team in interceptions by grabbing seven.  Mehl was named the team's MVP Award winner, even in a season where Mark Gastineau had 19 sacks.  The following year, Mehl's role switched slightly and he tallied five sacks, riding the surge of Gastineau's then record-breaking 22.  With another 7-9 record, the team again failed to make the playoffs.

After two disappointing 7-9 seasons, the Jets made some coaching changes under Joe Walton for the 1985 season and Bud Carson took over the defense from Joe Gardi.  Carson was well-known as the coordinator of the Steel Curtain under Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh.  After working in a few other cities, Carson came to New York and brought with him a switch to the nascent 3-4 defense.  As the Jets switched over, the team asked Mehl to move from the RLB spot to the RILB spot.  Mehl adjusted seamlessly to the new scheme and thrived, generating 5.5 sacks and three interceptions in his first year.  That season the team went 11-5, finishing second in the AFC East before losing to the Patriots in the Wildcard round.

While the Jets stayed in the playoff race in 1986, it was also the year that Mehl received the injury that would eventually cause him to retire.

"We were playing New Orleans at Giants Stadium," Mehl later told the New York Times of his injury. "The game was in the second quarter and I was chasing Wade Wilson across the field. Suddenly, without ever being touched, the knee just gave out on me."

While Mehl probably wouldn't blame anyone, the linebacker was avoiding a collision with a teammate on the play and upon stopping short on the (at the time) ruthless artificial turf of Giants Stadium, Mehl suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, bone and cartilage. Mehl received reconstructive surgery soon after, but the medicine wasn't what it is now today and he missed the remaining eight games of the 1986 season and due to pain in his knee, was only able to play in three games in 1987.

"Since the [1986] injury to Lance, our defense hasn't been the same," Joe Walton of losing Mehl. "Lance was our signal-caller, and he was in charge of getting every one in proper position. Having him on the field was like having another coach out there ... you always hope that a player of his quality can come back."

Coaches, fans and Mehl alike all hoped he could come back.  After his injury, Mehl dedicated himself to getting back onto the field, but it came at a cost. "I tried to come back [in 1987] and ended up hurting my left knee in a game against Miami," Mehl told reporters upon his retirement at the start of the 1988 season. "I should have never come back at all ... I just can't get rid of the pain."

After skill, much of playing with longevity in the NFL comes down to managing pain.  Players today are the beneficiaries of applied science to the billion dollar business of sports, but that wasn't the case in 1988.  Leading into the 1988 season, Mehl dedicated himself totally to returning to the football field but it still wasn't enough. In a 1988 interview, Mehl described even the simple act of playing golf would involve "knifing pain" to his knee. "I spent the entire off-season trying to rehabilitate my knee, and hoped that, maybe, I'd be able to come back. But it didn't work out that way. Now I feel it's time to move on."

After his NFL career ended, Mehl returned to the Ohio Valley to live in the town of St. Clairsville. Mehl applied for workman's comp from the NFL almost immediately, but was denied. It was a common story for NFL players of the time. After that, Mehl never asked the NFL again. "I'm not going to go begging," he told Jim Baumbach of Newsday in 2008. "I can still work. I'm just not as mobile as I used to be."

As recently as the 2008 Newsday article, Mehl was working with troubled youth in hopes of leading them away from a discouraging future. In essence, Mehl's job is share with at-risk youth what it takes to become a respected and productive person.  According to the article, Mehl has enjoyed his work despite knowing that he can't reach every juvenile who walks through his door.  Mehl has learned to relish seeing graduates of his program say hello or offer a simple thanks.

Lance Mehl's career overlapped with another linebacker in New York wearing #56 and the Sack Exchange. In part because of this, and in part because of his injury, Mehl didn't get the accolades he could have otherwise received during his career.  Lance Mehl was a big playmaker for the Jets and his stellar playoff performances against Cincinnati and Oakland in 1982 were critical to the Jets making it to the AFC Championship game.  His play was also critical for the Jets becoming a relevant playoff contender in the early eightes AFC East.  While his knee injury might have slowed him down, it didn't prevent his addition to the All-Time Jets team.  Many who watched Mehl play believe that had he been capable of playing ten or more seasons, it is very likely he would be viewed in the Jets pantheon of defenders among names like Klecko and Gastineau.

By honoring and inducting Lance Mehl into the Class of 2013 TJB Hall of Fame - we hope that this will in some small way honor his legacy with the New York Jets.

Tags: Player Profile, Brian Bassett

 (Eric Hartline)
(Eric Hartline)

The Jets' new linebackers coach, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, is looking to instill more aggression and power in his players, especially LB Lorenzo Mauldin.

The 25-year-old has shown spurts of potential in two seasons with the Jets, but his 2.5 sacks last season isn't the production they had expected. Greene intends to change that, and he told NJ.com's Darryl Slater why he uses this specific approach to his coaching. 

"Everybody at this level has skill, correct?" Greene said. "They'rea ll athletic, and agility and dexterity and all that stuff. Well, what separates people initially is their physical level of play. That's always our first step, is we have to play more physical than whoever is in front of us, because we're all athletic." 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson

Projected backups: Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Charone Peake, Eric Decker, Jalin Marshall, Quincy Enunwa
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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Preseason Stats: 17-for-47, 159 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 1-15 rushing, one fumble

Regular Season Stats: Did Not Play

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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Part 2 of Jets mini-camp 00:02:01
SNY delivers part 2 of an all-access behind-the-scenes recap of New York Jets minicamp, including the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

Click here to watch Part 1

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Behind the scenes at Jets camp 00:01:48
SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jets' owner Woody Johnson as the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the team confirmed on Thursday.

In the case that Johnson is nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, he would hand over his duties as Chairman and CEO to his brother, Christopher Johnson, who will directly oversee the team's day-to-day operations.

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson says head coach Todd Bowles has been more strict than in the past, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. 

Bowles has been left with a young team following the Jets' roster purge that including veterans like C Nick Mangold and LB David Harris. With his job possibly in jeopardy, he has been putting emphasis on working harder.

"It's completely different from the last couple years," Richardson said at minicamp. "A lot more strict now. We weren't loose [in the past], but it's a lot more strict now. It's even more enforced than what it has been in the past."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning in Manhattan for his alleged role in a nightclub attack that took place on April 2, according to TMZ Sports.

Mauldin, who is also being sued in civil court, was not arrested or charged after the incident. The Jets said earlier this month that they're aware of the lawsuit but had no further comment.

An NFL spokesman told ESPN's Rich Cimini that the league is looking into the incident. 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Former Jets LB David Harris has agreed to a two-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $6.75 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Patriots offered Harris more than the Jets offered him earlier this month prior to his release, reports Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Harris visited with the Patriots on Wednesday after speaking with head coach Bill Belichick (and coaches from five other teams) earlier this week, notes Florio.

Tags: David Harris
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Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)
Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)

The Jets were one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL last year, finishing the season wtih just 27 sacks, and only 5.5 of them coming from the team's outside linebackers.

Todd Bowles brought in former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene as New York's new linebackers coach, and Greene has already expressed optimism towards his young group of players.

"The sky's the limit for all my kids," Greene told Daniel Popper of the Daily News. "I'm teaching my kids technique and fundamentals not based on athletic ability and skill. It's based on physicality. It's based on drive and desire and want-to and being a student of the game. ... All my kids can really be as good they want to be."

Tags: Darron Lee, Jordan Jenkins
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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

The Jets have signed former Bears WR Marquess Wilson, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Wilson only played in three games last season as he was on the IR with a broken foot. He is a big target, standing at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and will add some competition before training camp begins.

In four seasons with the Bears, Wilson played in 31 games, hauling in 56 receptions for 777 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

The Jets new running backs coach, Stump Mitchell, believes RB Bilal Powell has Pro Bowl ability, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini. 

Mitchell has been impressed with Powell since joining the Jets this season, and he thinks if he didn't have to share time with another back, he has would attain Pro Bowl status. 

"Bilal is a Pro Bowl back if he was playing by himself, make no doubt about that," Mitchell said at minicamp.

Tags: Bilal Powell
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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starters: Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin

Projected Backups: Dylan Donahue, Josh Martin

Tags: Deion Barnes, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin, Mike Catapano, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets minicamp 00:02:24
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Defensive Lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Sheldon Richardson
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Former Jets LB Larry Grantham dies at age 78: Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets' only Super Bowl team in 1969, died on Tuesday at the age of 78. Apart from being a Super Bowl Champion, Grantham has been enshrined in the Jets Ring of Honor as well. 

Elsewhere in New York sports the Mets dropped a slugfest to the Dodgers, the Yankees lose their top prospect to injury, and the NBA draft is just two days away. 

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The Jets' roster purge and commitment to begin rebuilding this season earned them a "C+" offseason grade, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.

As the offseason is normally used to rebuild rosters, the Jets tore theirs down thanks to move made by owner Woody Johnson. Among the roster cuts were LB David Harris and WR Eric Decker, which saved the Jets almost $14 million in payroll alone. C Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis were also part of the 11 veterans the Jets go rid of this offseason. 

Cimini said the grade should be worse considering the Jets now have one of the worst rosters in the NFL, but looking at the big picture, the Jets are acknowledging their rebuild and will have $80 million to work with next offseason.

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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starter: Matt Forte

Projected Backups: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire

Tags: Bilal Powell, Matt Forte
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GEICO SportsNite: Larry Grantham 00:00:26
Michelle Yu reports on the passing of former Jets linebacker Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets Ring of Honor, who was 78 years old.

The Jets announced former LB Larry Grantham, a Ring of Honor member and Super Bowl III champion, has died at age 78.

Grantham opted to join the AFL's New York Titans despite being drafted in the NFL by the Baltimore Colts in 1960. The Titans became the Jets in 1963, and Grantham would stay with them until his retirement in 1972. 

He was the starting linebacker for the Jets' Super Bowl III championship team where he called all the plays on defense. Grantham played in 175 career games, and was a five-time AFL All-Star and a five-time all-NFL selection. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets receivers 00:01:37
Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa to discuss his expectations for himself and the young receivers for the upcoming season.

SNY's Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa after the conclusion of Jets minicamp to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Tags: Quincy Enunwa
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Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.  (Bill Wippert/AP)
Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is now a Tennessee Titan after agreeing to a deal on Sunday. 

Elsewhere, Jacob deGrom homers, the Yankees drop their sixth straight, Bradley Wright-Phillips scores twice and the Rangers, Islanders and Devils announce their protected players list ahead of the NHL Expansion Draft. 

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Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker agreed to a contract with the Tennessee Titans, the team announced Sunday.

Decker, 30, played 33 games with the Jets over the past three seasons, totaling 163 catches, 2,183 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.

Decker had appeared healthy entering organized team activities in May after he missed 13 games last season due to rotator cuff and hip injuries.

New York released him last Monday when they were unable to find a trading partner. The Jets will face a $1.5 million cap hit this year and next after releasing Decker.

Tags: Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

RB Matt Forte says the Jets aren't tanking the season, despite the fact that they've cut the majority of their veteran players this offseason.

"It's a good thing we don't operate off of what the fans think and what everybody on the outside thinks," Forte said, according to The Record. "What we think as a team, that's what's going to happen. And none of us on the team think that we're going to tank. So all I have to say about that is: Bring it."

The Jets, who went 5-11 last season, have cut Brandon MarshallEric DeckerDavid HarrisDarrelle RevisNick MangoldNick Folk, and Breno Giacomini since the season ended. They also declined their option on Ryan Clady.

Tags: Matt Forte
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 (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It's really quite an accomplishment for the Jets to come off a disappointing and perhaps disastrous 5-11 season and find a way to get worse. But they did it. They purged their roster of most of their veterans and replaced them with untested, unknown players. They're playing the long game, even though their short term looks rather bleak.

Who knows if they're "tanking" with their eyes on a top draft pick next season? Maybe they're just acknowledging the need to experience short-term pain for long-term gain. Whatever it is, there isn't a lot of hope for the 2017 season. Their eyes are on 2018, or perhaps beyond.

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Rookie Marcus Maye on minicamp 00:01:51
SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

The Jets selected Maye in the second round of Apri's NFL Draft.

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Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets coach Todd Bowles said Thursday there is no frontrunner for the srarting quarterback job. 

Elsewhere, the Yankees lose in extra innings, Juan Lagares is injurede in a Mets loss and the Giants ink their first-round pick. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:02:10
Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.

Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.


 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson wants to stay with the team for the rest of his caeer, but is not open to giving a hometown discount. 

The Jets, who finished 5-11 last season, are entering a rebuilding phase. But Richardson wants to be a part of it.

"A lot of guys just want to go jump on a bandwagon," Richardson told Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News earlier this week. "Older guys. Later in their career, it's easy to go jump into a good situation. It's a free market, so by all means, do your thing. But me personally, I like to make history, not be a part of it."

Tags: Sheldon Richardson
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles insinuated the team's starting QB is job still up for grabs, noting Thursday that there is currently no frontrunner.

The Jets, who are expected to turn to Josh McCown as their starter, have also been giving reps to Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.

McCown, 37, signed a one-year deal worth $6 million this offseason.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
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New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)
New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)

Jets linebacker Demario Davis took a $2.7 million pay cut in order to help facilitate the trade that brought him back to New York, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Davis, who was set to earn $3.7 million in the final year of his contract, will now make $1 million this season. This includes a $100,000 signing bonus and a $900,000 base salary. He can also earn $1.225 million in incentives. 

Davis re-structured his contract at the time of the June 1 trade. 

Tags: Demario Davis
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 (Julio Cortez/AP)
(Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said he was impressed with Christian Hackenberg's passing in minicamp. 

Elsewhere, Yankees lose and Mets win their respective rubber games and Joe Girardi would have no problem with Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby.

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