Neville Hewitt highlights his unique skillset as free agency nears

Spencer Aber
·2 min read

Neville Hewitt doesn’t view himself as a prototypical middle linebacker.

Hewitt has played the Mike linebacker over the last two seasons with the Jets with C.J. Mosley missing the majority of 2019 with a groin injury and then opting out in 2020. Now Hewitt will become an unrestricted free agent once the new league year begins — and he’s making his case for a payday.

“When you compare me to other linebackers make sure you consider the fact that I ran down on every single punt before relaying the play call to the defense,” Hewitt recently tweeted. “There is not another Mike doing it. Whoever invest in me and believe in me going to get their money worth. Hewitt gon do it.”

The 27-year-old has a point.

Hewitt played 99 percent of New York’s defensive snaps (1,130 snaps) and 43 percent of the special teams snaps (191) in 2020. That followed a 2019 campaign in which he played 69 percent of the defensive snaps (766) and 27 percent of the special teams snaps (121). Hewitt missed four games in 2019 but played all 16 this past season.

When you compare Hewitt to a few of the Pro Bowl middle linebackers in 2020, none of them played on special teams as much as he did. 49ers MLB Fred Warner played 19 total special teams snaps, while Colts MLB Darius Leonard only played 50 special teams snaps. Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner played 89 special teams snaps. All three players were First-team All-Pro.

Obviously, those players make their money on defense, but it’s not like Hewitt’s performance slacked in that facet of the game. He was still one of the NFL’s leading tacklers this past year, registering 134 total. That was good for ninth in the league. Hewitt also had four pass defenses, six tackles for a loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

He was no defensive slouch in 2019, either, recording 75 tackles, six TFLs, five passes defended and three sacks in 12 games.

Hewitt should draw interest from teams once free agency opens in March. The Jets will have to determine in the coming weeks if he fits in Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s 4-3 defense and what type of money he’s worth.

Whoever signs Hewitt, they’ll be getting plenty of bang for their buck.