The 2009 Hall of Fame class (in no particular order) kicks off with an inspirational talent...

Let me take you back to a simpler time...

No zone blocking systems, no X's and O's

No "can Mark Sanchez make all of the throws?"No worrying about wedge blocking affecting kickoff returns

No incentive clauses, not likely to be earned

No blogging, no websites, no ESPN

No downing of punts inside the ten

No draft busts, no Kiper, no Million Dollar fines

Football was different, when I used to be nine.

I love football. I enjoy the details, the strategic intricacies and statistical analysis as much as I enjoy the brutal, emotive and spectacular competition. Back when I was nine, though, I had a much more innocent and childlike viewpoint of the game I had just discovered. The razzle-dazzle of the game had me hooked, with the futuristically-dressed players so much more glamorous than the mud-covered soccer players or sweatshirt-wearing cricket players my Father introduced to me as the epitome of competitive sport as a child. My Dad explained the rules to me, but obviously many of the finer points of NFL football escaped me. However, on this day, one player moved faster and did more exciting things than anyone else, so he instantly became my favorite...which brings us to Wesley Walker.

Football (and particularly the Jets) was a big obsession for me throughout my childhood and into adolescence and Wesley Walker remained my favorite player until his retirement after an injury-plagued 1989 season. That first game (the heroic 4 touchdown performance in a 51-45 overtime win over Miami, if you didn't click the link above) led to greater things that season, as Walker caught a career high 12 touchdown passes (also including another three against the Colts in week 11) and caught 49 passes for over 1,000 yards. The Jets went 10-6 (having been 10-1 before injuries set in), eventually being eliminated from the playoffs in the divisional round, as despite Walker catching a long touchdown pass on a flea-flicker, the Browns came back from a 20-10 deficit late in the fourth quarter and won in overtime.

The 1987 season got off to a promising start, when Walker went deep - his forte - for a 55 yard TD in an opening day win over the Bills, but the strike and injuries meant that he would only catch another 8 passes that year as the Jets went 6-9.

In 1988, he got off to a slow start, but then busted out with a three touchdown game in a blowout win over the Oilers in week three. He later added game winning scores against the Lions and Dolphins, as the Jets posted a winning record but missed out on the playoffs. He only caught 26 passes on the season, but continued to be a threat, averaging 21 yards per catch and scoring 7 touchdowns. However, by now he was a shadow of his former self, as evidenced by his dropped catch in the end-zone in a key one point loss to the Patriots in week 11. Fittingly, the game winner against Miami would be his last NFL touchdown.

After the 1989 season, where Walker started just three games and caught just 8 passes, I remember being upset when Walker, a free agent, was apparently being pursued by some other teams (including the Rams, if memory serves), but he never played for another NFL team and retired having played all 154 career games for the Jets and with 438 catches for 8,306 yards and 71 TDs and a healthy 19 yards per catch average (19th best all time - he is 6th best in terms of yards per touch).

It was only once his career had ended that I got into researching Jets history and realized that, although he was my favorite player, I had actually missed the best years of his career.

As a rookie in 1977, the speedy Walker led the NFL in average yards per reception, then in 1978, he led the NFL in receiving yards and was named as a first team all-pro. His 24.4 yards per catch average that year is still good enough for 18th best in NFL history. In 1979, he actually averaged 24.7 yards per catch, although he didn't catch enough passes to qualify for the all-time records. He missed several games in 1980, but still averaged over 20 yards per catch for the fourth straight year.

Over the next four years, the tail end of the Richard Todd era, Walker became more of a possession receiver. His reception numbers went up (including a career high 61 catches in 1983), but his average per catch droppped to the 14-16 yards per catch range. He was just as much of a red zone threat, though, catching 29 touchdown passes over that four year span, including 9 in 13 games in 1981. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, he had 620 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in just 9 games and went to the Pro Bowl for the second time. In the postseason, he had the go ahead touchdown as the Jets defeated the Bengals and a crucial score when they held off the Raiders to reach the AFC title game.

In 1985, the introduction of draft pick Al Toon to the roster and announcement of strong-armed Ken O'Brien as full-time starting quarterback enabled Walker to return to his deep threat role. He again averaged over 20 yards per catch in each of the next four seasons. The 1985 season featured some great moments, such as when with the Jets up 17-13 against the Bengals, Ken O'Brien threw an interception to Louis Breeden at the six yard line, but he reversed his field and Walker took him down for a key safety. He also had a late game-winner against the Seahawks and a franchise-record 96 yard TD against the Bills as the Jets battled to a wild card position despite having both the team with the AFC's best record and the Superbowl runners-up in their division. Walker would miss four games though and ultimately played 16 games only three times in his 13 year career.

The 1986 season was when I first discovered Wesley and the Jets and saw Walker named as a UPI all-AFC selection even though he wasn't invited to the Pro Bowl. Clearly, his achievements speak for themselves and he is a worthy inclusion in our hall of fame.

However, although he was a fantastic player, this is not the only reason for his inclusion. Walker was inspirational, for the fact that he incredibly managed to achieve such a high level of greatness despite the fact he was legally blind in one eye. He also laid it on the line for the team, as evidenced by disturbing recent reports that he is still in constant pain due to the after effects of a nerve injury to his neck. He is still involved in the community, currently working as a teacher and doing great work for charitable causes. And, over and above all of that, he's still a Jets lifer, as evidenced by him representing the team on Jets night at Shea and apparently knocking back drinks impressively with fans at Dave and Busters 2008 draft party.

To close, however, I want to end on a personal note and take you back to that simpler time. This young newly-minted Jets fan, still only ten, wrote a letter to his new favorite player in 1987. It must have been the worst fan letter ever, just saying how exciting I found American Football to be, recounting a load of his stats and telling him he was the best. I can't imagine it made for very interesting reading and I don't think I ever expected a reply beyond my wildest dreams. A month or so later, a signed photograph came through the door addressed to me. I still have it to this day. It was clear that he had also addressed the envelope himself too. He didn't have to do that, so I am honored to get the chance to pay tribute to Wesley Walker, as a way of thanking him for what was one of the biggest thrills of my childhood.

So, thanks Wesley, welcome to the hall and we wish you good health in the future. Ladies and Gentleman, Wesley Walker...

Tags: Main Page, Bent Double

New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee makes a tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Demario Davis, Darron Lee

Projected backups: Bruce Carter, Connor Harris

Tags: Darron Lee, David Harris, Demario Davis
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 (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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