The New York Jets made a surprising move when they released linebacker Bart Scott Tuesday afternoon. Scott had been a solid contributor in New York since 2009, but the Jets deemed him expendable in their effort to free up salary cap space. Now that Scott is on the open market, who are the favorites to sign him?
Scott's base salary was $6.9 million, and he was on record as willing to take a pay cut to remain in New York. Now, he'll likely take that pay cut elsewhere. Scott will turn 33 in August, just before the start of the 2013 season, and he's entering his 11th year as a linebacker in the league. Scott's stats have steadily diminished over the last four seasons. He compiled 92 tackles and 11 tackles for loss in 2009, but those numbers decreased to 60 and seven in 2012. While he is still providing quality production, it's not likely that anyone will be jumping to give Scott a huge deal.
The front-runners to acquire Scott may be the Buffalo Bills. Mike Pettine, the recently hired Buffalo defensive coordinator, held the same position during Scott's entire tenure with the Jets, and that relationship could give the Bills an inside track for Scott's services. Brian Galliford at Buffalo Rumblings doesn't view Scott as a long-term solution, but he believes the veteran could be valuable. Pettine is installing a new defensive system in Buffalo, in which Scott has played his entire career. Having a player with that familiarity of the defense and a leadership presence on the field may make Scott a prime target for the Bills.
The Minnesota Vikings are also contenders that may be in the running for Scott. Minnesota has three linebackers -- Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell -- that are set to become unrestricted free agents, so the team could find itself awfully thin at the position in the near future. Even if the Vikings didn't have plans to give Scott a prominent role in the defense, he would still be helpful in terms of depth.
The Kansas City Chiefs need to upgrade at just about every position, and inside linebacker is no exception. Kansas City is coming off a 2-14 season and has the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Depending on what the Chiefs do with that pick, adding a linebacker in free agency could be a necessary option. Someone like Scott, who is probably nearing the twilight of his career, might not be the most ideal option, but if the price is right, who knows? The Chiefs need to spend money everywhere, and if they can get Scott at a discount, he may become a more attractive possibility.
Having just been released, Scott's future is still uncertain. He may not end up with the Bills, Vikings or Chiefs, but front office staffs in Buffalo, Minnesota and Kansas City will more than likely give some serious consideration toward signing Scott.