Jets cut veteran linebacker Bryan Thomas

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In a surprise move announced on Saturday afternoon, the New York Jets have cut linebacker Bryan Thomas.

Thomas was the Jets’ first-round pick in the 2002 NFL draft and has been with the team since, playing in 146 regular-season games and 11 playoff games, the second-most postseason appearances for anyone in Jets franchise history.

But the Jets apparently decided they needed depth at cornerback more than they needed another veteran linebacker, because they cut Thomas to open up a roster spot for cornerback Donnie Fletcher, who was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Because he is a vested veteran who was on the roster for Week One, Thomas’s salary is guaranteed. It’s entirely possible that the Jets plan to bring Thomas back, perhaps even as soon as Monday. But for now he’s a free agent, and if there’s someone interested in his services, he could be playing somewhere else for the first time in his NFL career.