Should the Jets Re-Sign Neville Hewitt?

Will New York look to re-sign linebacker Neville Hewitt after a breakout campaign last year, leading the team in tackles?
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This offseason is full of question marks for the Jets. It's not even clear who will suit up as New York’s signal-caller for Week 1. 

Eighteen players are slated to become unrestricted free agents on March 17th. With a variety of moves on both sides of the ball expected, the Jets will have to determine who is worth keeping around from last season’s two-win squad. 

The front office has already been active. Last week, New York released inconsistent defensive end Henry Anderson, saving $8.2 million in cap space, likely the first of many salary-shedding moves. 

Then, on Monday, the Jets franchise-tagged free safety Marcus Maye, after general manager Jim Douglas had asserted that bringing back Maye was a “priority” earlier this offseason. 

Maye was one of two sixteen-game starters for the Jets last season. The other? That would be inside linebacker Neville Hewitt. Hewitt had a breakout season for Gang Green in 2020, leading the team in tackles with 134, good for ninth overall in the NFL.

Hewitt, who turns 28 next month, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Marshall by the Dolphins in 2015. He primarily played on special teams for Miami, before joining the Jets in 2018. After playing sporadically at linebacker in his first two seasons with the Jets, he signed a one year, $2 million deal prior to the 2020 season. 

Hewitt clearly outplayed his contract, becoming a key defensive piece for his team. It will undoubtedly require a bigger investment to re-sign him this season, but his struggles in pass coverage and lack of speed will ensure he’s still a relatively low-cost option. 

The Jets currently have over $69 million in cap space and likely will continue to shed salary in the coming weeks. As a result, they can afford to pay Hewitt somewhere in the $5-10 million dollar range. 

Hewitt certainly doesn’t have the speed that head coach Robert Saleh is accustomed to with 49ers linebackers like Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, however, the Georgia native has demonstrated his ability to be a solid run-stopper. Even better, he will not come at a premium. Bringing back Hewitt seems like a worthwhile option for the Jets, as he looks to build on the best season of his career. 

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