Updated: March 16, 2014, 5:08 PM ET
Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
The New York Jets have been rebuilding the last 12 months with young players, but they made an exception for 33-year-old linebacker Calvin Pace, who will return with a two-year contract, a league source confirmed Sunday.
Pace’s contract is worth $5 million, the source said — a nice raise after setting a career-high with 10 sacks last season as the oldest starter on defense.
The Jets are thin at outside linebacker, so it was important to re-sign Pace, who hasn’t missed a game in four years. He’s projected to once again start opposite Quinton Coples, but they could look to address the position in the draft.
Pace became the fifth unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Jets. He made it clear at the end of the season that he had no interest in playing elsewhere.
“It was fun to watch everybody grow up,” he said then, relishing the elder-statesman role.
Pace was highly motivated after a tumultuous offseason in which he was cut for the first time in his career. The Jets cut Pace, coming off a poor season, to save salary-cap room. He didn’t draw any serious interest on the open market and ended up re-signing with the Jets for considerably less money — a one-year, $1 million contract, to be exact. He called it a humbling experience, describing his release as a wake-up call.
Pace started every game at strong-side linebacker, although his playing time was scaled back. He ended up playing 79 percent of the defensive snaps, down 10 percent from the previous year. He benefited from the rest, finishing only a half-sack behind Muhammad Wilkerson for the team lead.
Pace, an 11-year veteran who began his career with the Arizona Cardinals, has 52 career sacks.
Pro Football Talk earlier reported the new contract.
Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
Syracuse University graduate