Former Gator faces crucial contract year with New York Jets

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Former Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis hasn’t lived up to the first-round selection he received back in 2017 from the Detroit Lions. He showed some nice progress in his first two years, starting 14 games and totaling 96 tackles, a pick and a fumble recovery as a rookie. In 2018, he started all 16 games and registered a career-best 100 tackles.

But an injury ended his season after 11 games in 2019, and in 2020, he started just four of the 14 games he appeared in. He also totaled a career-low 46 tackles.

With recurring injury concerns and not enough production, Detroit decided to let him walk after his rookie contract expired. He signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the New York Jets this offseason, where he’ll hope for a career resurgence with defensive guru Robert Saleh.

Davis certainly has a lot to prove in 2021, but the Jets could reward the former 21st overall pick with a nice extension if he has a productive season. According to CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani, Davis is an underrated player who could be due for a payday this season.

We considered safety Marcus Maye for this spot, but he’s not very underrated if he’s receiving the franchise tag. So, let’s go in a different direction and reach a bit. Davis struggled mightily last year with the Detroit Lions. However, he’s a young player with potential, and maybe defensive mastermind Robert Saleh can get him on the right track. Additionally, Davis won’t be the Jets’ middle linebacker, so this position change might also help him — along with the leadership of new teammate C.J. Mosley. Davis signed a one-year contract worth $7 million, and he could become an intriguing prospect next offseason if this change of scenery works well for him.

The Jets have had issues in past years keeping good players around. Safety Jamal Adams already left for Seattle, and with his former counterpart in Maye playing under the franchise tag in 2021 with no extension in sight, it seems he’ll be playing elsewhere after the season, too.

If Davis is productive, New York likely couldn’t afford to whiff on a long-term deal with another defensive player. With the Lions, he showed glimpses of the dominance he displayed while with the Gators but couldn’t do it consistently. He’ll hope the grass is greener in the Meadowlands.

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