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Jets release Calvin Pace, three others

02/19/2013 3:26 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Calvin Pace was one of four Jets cut as part of a salary cap purge on Tuesday.(AP)
The New York Jets announced on Tuesday that four players, including veteran linebacker Calvin Pace, have been released in the team’s first major effort to clear up salary cap space this off-season.

Pace, offensive tackle Jason Smith, safety Eric Smith, and tight end Josh Baker, who was on injured reserve for all of 2012, were the foursome cut loose by new general manager John Idzik, who freed up $24.2 million in salary with the releases.

USA Today reported that at the start of the week, the Jets sat $26.3 million over the salary cap, and the team could save approximately $7 million more if they also release linebacker Bart Scott as rumored.

Pace, who was once thought of as a staple of the Jets formidable defense, has instead seen a steady decline in his production over the last couple of years; after recording 135 tackles and 15 sacks in his first two seasons with the Jets, Pace has just 178 tackles and 13 sacks over the last three campaigns. He was due to count $11.6 million against the cap in 2013, but will count for just $3 million because the Jets cut him loose on Tuesday, saving the team $8.6 million.

The release of Jason Smith, who was acquired prior to the 2012 season from St. Louis for Wayne Hunter, provided even bigger relief; the former No. 2 overall pick, who spent all of last season as a backup, was due to count for a cap hit of $12 million this season, but that entire hit was wiped off the books with his release. Eric Smith, meanwhile, was due to make $3 million in 2013.

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