The cap-strapped New York Jets began their anticipated salary dump Tuesday, releasing linebacker Bart Scott and three other veterans.
In other expected moves, the Jets also cut linebacker Calvin Pace, safety Eric Smith and tackle Jason Smith. Just like that, the Jets created $30.7 million in cap relief. It puts them about $5.7 million under the cap.
This starts what figures to be a tumultuous offseason under new general manager John Idzik, although his predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, was planning to make the same four cuts.
This won't impact Darrelle Revis' situation. The Jets had to make these moves simply to get under the cap by the start of the league year, March 12. They also waived injured tight end Josh Baker.
"Every one of these players was a major contributor to our football team," coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. "I was very impressed with Jason this past season while Bart, Calvin and Eric have been an instrumental part of our defense for the past four years."
Scott wasn't included in the Jets' initial announcement of cuts, fueling speculation he could remain on the team at a reduced salary. His agent, Harold Lewis, said he expected to meet with team officials later this week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis to discuss Scott's future.
The Jets apparently couldn't wait, announcing an hour later that Scott -- best known for his "Can't Wait!" rant on ESPN after the Jets upset the Patriots in the 2010 divisional playoffs -- also was a goner.
"The door is not closed with the Jets, and this allows us to really work the market as a free agent while in Indy," Lewis said later in an e-mail to ESPNNewYork.com.
Scott was due to count $8.7 million against the cap. By cutting him, the Jets will get hit with $1.5 million in "dead" money, meaning there will be a savings of $7.2 million. He likely will be replaced by second-year linebacker Demario Davis, who became Scott's heir apparent last year when he was drafted in the third round.
Scott was the first big acquisition of the Ryan administration, following Ryan to New York from the Baltimore Ravens.
The Jets enticed him with a six-year, $48 million contract in 2009, making him the centerpiece of the defense. Ryan and two assistant coaches took a celebrated recruiting trip to Scott's Maryland home, showing up at midnight at the start of free agency.
Scott brought toughness and swagger to the unit, which vaulted to No. 1 in the league rankings in 2009. In four seasons with the Jets, Scott recorded 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and only one interception.
He became a malcontent in 2011, though, complaining about his diminished playing time, and also had several clashes with the media, once incurring a $10,000 fine for making an obscene gesture toward a news photographer.
Scott hoped for a bounce-back year, but he suffered a turf-toe injury in Week 3. He tried to play through the pain, but eventually missed a game, ending his streak of 119 consecutive games played.
Scott, Pace and Eric Smith could draw interest from the Buffalo Bills, where they'd be reunited with former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Pace was an every-down linebacker, but his cap charge was prohibitive -- he was due to count $11.6 million. By cutting him, the Jets will get hit with $3.0 million in dead money, meaning there will be a savings of $8.6 million.
The Jets snagged Pace with a six-year, $42 million contract during free agency in 2008, one of many key additions in a blockbuster offseason. Of all the big-name acquisitions -- Alan Faneca, Kris Jenkins, Damien Woody and, later, Brett Favre -- Pace lasted the longest.
Pace didn't become the pass rusher the Jets envisioned, never eclipsing eight sacks in a season. In 2012, he played in 94 percent of the defensive snaps, recording only three sacks and 42 solo tackles.
In five seasons with the Jets, Pace recorded 28 sacks and 11 forced fumbles.
The Jets don't have an obvious replacement for him, but they could draft an outside linebacker with the ninth overall pick.
Jason Smith's release was a no-brainer considering his $12 million cap figure, which included an $11.25 million roster bonus. The Jets inherited the contract last August from the St. Louis Rams, who previously had restructured the contract to include the prohibitive bonus – virtually ensuring free agency in 2013.
The entire $12 million charge is wiped off the Jets' cap, an enormous savings that will allow them to do business on the open market.
Smith was acquired last August in a trade with the Rams, a straight-up swap for Wayne Hunter, another right tackle who fell out of favor. Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, was used exclusively as a backup. He played in 24 percent of the offensive snaps as an extra blocker in the "jumbo" package.
Eric Smith was a valuable backup who contributed heavily on special teams. He was a situational played last season on defense, but he has started 36 games in his career. He was due to make $3 million in the final year of his contract, all of which is cleaned off the cap.