Remember “Logan’s Run?” You’d be forgiven if you don’t, considering it’s a sci-fi movie from 1976, based on a book from 10 years previously. Anyway, it’s about a dystopian future (is there any other kind in sci-fi movies?) in which people are killed when they reach the age of 30.
To judge by their ongoing offseason moves, the New York Jets are working on a remake. In their version, any player over the age of 30 gets the ax, with linebacker David Harris the most recent example and wide receiver Eric Decker reportedly set to follow him out the door.
Given that the Jets went 5-11 last season and have now gotten rid of almost all their most accomplished players, they are clearly intent on creating their own dystopian future. Much as the Browns have done recently (not a comparison most fan bases want to hear), New York wants to go young, and it apparently doesn’t mind becoming a strong contender for next year’s No. 1 overall draft pick in the process. Hey, no better way to get that long-awaited franchise quarterback, right?
The Jets might not win two games this year. And I’m counting the preseason.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) June 6, 2017
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that they were releasing the 33-year-old Harris, a defensive stalwart for a decade and a respected, lead-by-example figure in the locker room. In a statement, Coach Todd Bowles indicated that the team and Harris couldn’t come to terms on a pay cut, and he said that the “organizational decision” didn’t make for “an easy time.”
“David’s been a Jet all his life,” Bowles said. “He was born and bled green. He’s obviously a guy who is well-liked in the building. … There’s never a good time that it could happen. There was a breakdown in talks and that’s what led to this.”
From the perspective of Harris’s agents, even if there wasn’t a good time for this to happen, there definitely was a better time. “The Jets could have done this prior to free agency instead of waiting three months, especially for a player who has exhibited nothing but loyalty and class for 10 years,” the agents, Brian Mackler and Jim Ivler, said in a statement to ESPN.
“We are focused on building this team for the future, and that’s kind of our goal all along,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said Tuesday (via NJ.com), after he was asked point-blank if he was tanking the season. “It’s going to be a roster of opportunities and a very competitive roster at a lot of positions, in terms of players with the opportunity presented to them and we’ll see how it unfolds.”
Harris’s release caught the attention of country singer Jessie James, Decker’s wife. “Jets cleanin house!!! Damn,” she tweeted. When another Twitter user replied with, “I hope Eric isn’t next…,” she tweeted, “Apparently no one is safe. Fingers crossed.”
James had reason to be concerned, because ESPN’s Adam Schefter was soon reporting that the Jets told Decker “they either will release or trade him this week.” The expected departure of the wide receiver, who turned 30 in March, leaves the rarely more aptly nicknamed Gang Green with just four players over that age: quarterback Josh McCown (37), long snapper Tanner Purdum (32), running back Matt Forte (31) and defensive lineman Steve McLendon (31).
Thanks Jets for being so welcoming to us over the past few years! We will miss you guys!!! We had some great memories and loved the fans❤❤❤
— Jessie James Decker (@JessieJDecker) June 6, 2017
The exits of Harris and Decker (assuming the latter does take place) continue a purge of 30-something players that began in February, when the Jets let go of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and longtime center Nick Mangold, as well as kicker Nick Folk and offensive lineman Breno Giacomini, and continued with the March releases of cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Some noted Tuesday that a photo Marshall posted in July 2016, celebrating the Jets’ re-signing of Fitzpatrick, now had no one left on the team in it.
Decker, a 2010 third-round pick by the Broncos, came to Jets as a free agent in 2014, and he caught 154 passes for 1,989 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first two seasons in New York. In 2016, however, Decker missed 13 games with a partially torn rotator cuff, and the Jets freed up $7.25 million in cap space with his release.
In the wake of the departures of Marshall and Decker, the Jets’ top wide receiver will be 24-year-old Quincy Enunwa, he of the 80 career receptions, unless someone like 23-year-old Robby Anderson or one of the team’s two 2017 draft picks takes a major step forward. Forte (who has to be feeling like he’s the next to go) and Bilal Powell, 28, make for a veteran tandem at running back, but even if McCown starts the season at quarterback, he figures to eventually give way to 22-year-old Christian Hackenberg, a 2016 second-round pick who has yet to play a snap.
Add in a defense that has some talented linemen but is marked by inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary, and the Jets could well find themselves on the wrong side of 30 in most NFL power rankings. It’s not a situation that would have many other organizations green with envy, but it’s apparently all about looking ahead for New York, which might take mere dystopia over the post-apocalyptic hellscape that appears imminent.