Who will be the odd man out in the Jets' linebackers logjam?

Scott Thompson
SNY

Jets GM Joe Douglas added a familiar face in LB Patrick "Peanut" Onwuasor on Wednesday in his latest free agent move to bolster his defense. Onwuasor is a great linebacker that has played in a starting and depth role, and has had time playing next to C.J. Mosley

The only problem is Onwuasor has officially created a logjam of linebackers at One Jets Drive. 

Maybe that's exactly what Douglas wanted -- some linebacker competition when training camp kicks off. Because that's exactly what will have to occur in this position group when head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams work together to build the defense for the 55-man roster. 

 

So who will the odd-man-out be? 

Douglas has himself tons of depth at this position, and rightfully so after Mosley and Avery Williamson -- the team's first-string inside linebackers heading into camp -- barely stepped foot on the field last season. Williamson was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the preseason, and Mosley battled a groin injury all season long that had him out all but two games. 

In turn, players like Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, B.J. Bello and rookie Blake Cashman saw time in the middle of the defense to replace those two. And they did well. 

Burgess had 80 combined tackles with an interception, five passes defended, and eight tackles for a loss. Hewitt had three sacks, 75 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended as well. That production is why the Jets brought both of them back for this season. 

Cashman, the fifth-rounder out of Minnesota, impressed in his seven games. He had 40 tackles -- three for loss -- with a fumble recovery and one quarterback hit. Bello also returned on a one-year deal after playing in eight games. 

But all of these linebackers returning have Onwuasor and his 32 career starts to worry about. The natural thing would be to see if these players could move to outside linebacker. However, with Jordan Jenkins returning to go along with Frankie Luvu, Tarell Basham and Harvey Langi on the roster already, that's a tough move as well. 

So let's break it down: Mosley and Williamson are still your first-team linebackers. The Jets and Williams are hoping for better health this season because this tandem was expected to be great alongside one another.

Then, Onwuasor has to be the next-man up here, and he has a knack for getting to the passer, too, which is evident by his 8.5 sacks in the last two seasons. Hewitt would most likely be the second-teamer next to Onwuasor, followed by Burgess.

That leaves Cashman and Bello battling for that final third-string spot. Given his draft status with the Jets, Cashman should get the upper hand here. But Bello also showed flashes in his replacement role last season, too. 

It's a good problem to have for the Jets, but when training camp does kick off (and hopefully it's on time), this will certainly be a fun position battle to watch. 

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