Jets defense almost certain to have different look next season

Mike DeVito celebrates after a play during a Mike DeVito celebrates after a play during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. (Dec. 17, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's not just the moribund Jets offense that has to worry about change coming. The Jets defense has been the only bright spot the last few weeks, but players on that side of the ball know change is coming once the final snap is taken a week from Sunday in Buffalo.

"I have two games left, then I don't know what's going to happen next year," said pending free agent Mike DeVito. "So I'm going to enjoy every minute I get a chance to be with these guys."

DeVito, safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry and Jets veterans Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott are all free agents after the season. The core of the Jets defense has been together since Rex Ryan arrived four seasons ago, but that is almost certain to change, especially with Scott, the vocal leader of the defense who has been a shell of his old self this season, dealing with a nagging toe injury.

A league source indicated that Scott is unsure of his plans for next season, given the changes coming to the Jets and his health.

Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace and Thomas have been the Jets starting linebackers for four years, but that unit certainly will look different in 2013.

"It's rare you have a group like that that plays at a high level," said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. "Whether it's age, whether it's economics, it probably will be the last two weeks of this group together."

DeVito has been a mainstay on the defensive line and had one of his best games as a Jet on Monday, recording eight tackles. But with a young group around him, he understands there's no assurances for next season.

"I'm a New York guy, my family's over here . . . I love this organization," he said. "It definitely would be interesting if everybody went their own ways. We have been together for four years, which is strange for the NFL. You don't usually see that."

Pettine also hoped to see Bell, who turns 35 in March, and Landry, who is hoping for a longer-term deal somewhere after playing well on a "prove-it" one-year contract, back to keep some stability at the safety spot.

"It would be frustrating not to have both those guys back because we've put a year in learning the system, and that's a big part of it," Pettine said.

But the guys who have been around long enough know what's bound to happen after a disappointing season -- even one in which the defense has been mostly solid.

"You've seen some situations where things happen and it's like, 'Man, that's kind of messed up,' but that's why you understand it's a business," safety Eric Smith said. "Everybody's replaceable."

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