Last year, Rex Ryan supposedly wanted to bring David Harris to the Buffalo Bills in free agency. Unfortunately for Ryan, the NY Jets signed Harris to a three-year extension before free agency even started.
Fast-forward one season, and the Jets have another inside linebacker set to hit free agency in Demario Davis. This time, it doesn't seem like the Jets will be re-signing him either. According to Connor Hughes of the USA TODAY Sports, the Jets plan to let Davis walk in free agency:
It's believed that the Jets plan to re-sign Erin Henderson over Davis, according to one of Hughes' sources. This season, Davis struggled under Todd Bowles in 2015 but finished the year with 90 total tackles, two sacks and two passes defensed.
Davis had performed much better in Ryan's defense the last two seasons. During 2013 and 2014, Davis racked up 223 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, six passes defensed and one interception. In 2014, Davis was Pro Football Focus' 15th highest rated inside linebacker. It seems as though Davis was a better fit in Ryan's defense than he was in Bowles' defense this season.
What would Davis bring to the Bills? Here's a look at some of his best attributes.
Athleticism: Davis is pretty fast for an inside linebacker. Back in 2012, Davis ran a 4.62 40-yard dash while preparing for the NFL draft. Straight-line speed is one thing, but Davis has shown that he has the speed to cover ground on the field. This hasn't translated to great coverage skills but he flashed some coverage ability in 2014 under Ryan with five passes defensed.
Durability: The inside linebacker hasn't missed a game with the Jets and has started in every game for the last three seasons. Buffalo had injuries at ILB last season with Nigel Bradham missing time due to an ankle injury. Ty Powell, Buffalo's top reserve, missed the entire season with a torn ACL. Davis would give the Bills a reliable option at the position based upon the first four years of his career.
Knowledge of Ryan's defense: This is a major plus working in Davis' favor. In Buffalo, Davis would join a defense where he already knows the entire playbook. His knowledge of the playbook would benefit Buffalo as Davis could get his teammates lined up on the field and he'd be trusted to call out plays on the field for the defense. Buffalo had no shortage of issues in terms of defensive confusion last season, so adding Davis would greatly benefit the Bills. Ryan has added two coaches with great knowledge of his defense in Ed Reed and Rob Ryan, but he needs a player like Davis who can share his knowledge on the field.
Davis to the Bills is far from a guarantee, but the inside linebacker loved playing for Ryan. Back in 2014, Davis said the following about playing for Ryan:
“It’s the best,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t want to play for any other head coach. He’s a great defensive mind. I’ve learned so much about playing defense by the way he strategically plans for an opponent. I don’t think anyone in the league looks forward to coming in and playing against a Rex Ryan defense, let alone a Rex Ryan team."
A reunion between Davis and Ryan makes sense for both parties. Davis had the best season of his young career with Ryan in 2014 and the inside linebacker would give Ryan a player with extensive knowledge of his defense.
Free agency is still a few months away, but don't be surprised if Rex Ryan's first free agent target is Demario Davis.