Believe it or not, Calvin Pace misses Bart Scott’s booming voice.
Pace, 32, now looks around the Jets locker room and sees new faces – mostly, young guys eager to get a foothold in the NFL.
“It’s funny not to hear Bart's mouth two or three hours at a time,” Pace, who is entering his 11th year in the league, said with a smile.
He was one of five players – along with Scott, Eric Smith, Jason Smith and Josh Baker (waived/injured) -- released on the same day back in February by the Jets. It was a necessary cost-cutting move for new general manager John Idzik. But, according to Pace, the Jets told him fairly soon after that there was a chance he’d be back.
The veteran linebacker said he had “a couple of other opportunities” to go elsewhere, but he got the impression the respective coaches wanted him more than the teams’ general managers. So when the Jets offered him a chance to return to in April – at a much cheaper salary – Pace agreed. (According to NFLPA records, the linebacker’s base salary for this season is $940,000.)
Though he has his same locker stall and jersey number, Pace said he’s still getting acclimated to the “different faces” around him. He also hasn’t gotten used to seeing 24-year-old running back John Griffin wearing Darrelle Revis’ No. 24.
“You look at the guy wearing his number and you're like ‘Oh, that's not Bart. That's not Revis. It's crazy. But obviously we just have to keep moving.”
Moving on from Revis was easy for the Jets and owner Woody Johnson. But Pace believes there was far more significance in '24' than just a jersey number. “Yeah, if I was him,” he said, referring to Griffin. “I'd let that number sit down for a year. It's big shoes to fill. It's a lot different.”
Pace also said he was ‘disappointed’ the Jets dealt Revis to Tampa Bay in exchange for the 13th pick in the April draft (which they used to select former Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson) and a conditional third-round pick in 2014.
“I consider Revis a friend since the day I got here. And I watched him grow into what I feel is the best corner in the NFL,” said Pace, who signed a six-year, $42-million deal with the Jets in 2008. “To not have that it was kind of disheartening. But again, that’s the way of our business. You see them go and you wish them well.
But while Pace said it’s clear what type of talent the Buccaneers received in the Revis deal, its uncertain how the move will pan out for the Jets. “I'm not going to sit here and put pressure on Sheldon or anybody else,” Pace said. “We’ll see. The jury is out on how our side of the deal worked out."
In the meantime, Pace will continue to get “acclimated” to the new faces around him – which the linebacker believes is a growing trend in the NFL.
“I guess it was good while it lasted, but there's a lot of new guys, a lot of youth, so I guess our job is to get to know one another as quick as possible, get everyone on the same page,” he said. “...I just think this is the way the NFL has become. You don't see a lot of guys playing 10 years. My whole generation is probably the last to go.
“It's funny because I don't think these young guys see that. It's just going to keep getting younger and younger to the point where, you're going to look at a guy playing five years and think ‘he's a veteran.’”