After four seasons with the Ravens, Courtney Upshaw may soon be moving on. The free agent outside linebacker will visit the Jets on Thursday, according to FoxSports.com.
Upshaw has been a valuable run-stopping linebacker, but he only had two sacks last season, and did not become a consistent pass rusher after Terrell Suggs suffered his season-ending Achilles injury. The Jets may be willing to pay Upshaw more than the Ravens, who could address their need for a pass-rusher in the draft. Losing Upshaw in free agency would also increase the likelihood of the Ravens getting a third-round compensatory pick in next year's draft. The Ravens have already lost offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele to the Raiders.
The Jets surely like Upshaw’s toughness and durability. He has never missed a game, and had 51 tackles in 2015. Well-respected in the Ravens’ locker room, Upshaw is someone who could help the Jets’ already-stout run defense which ranked second in the NFL last season, allowing just 83.4 yards per game.
If the Ravens were to lose Upshaw, second-year linebacker Za’Darius Smith would likely move into a larger role, helping Suggs and Elvis Dumervil with the pass rush. Smith played well at the end of last season, with 3 ½ of his 5 ½ sacks coming over the final three games.