Scouting Spencer Paysinger

Earlier this month, the Jets confirmed that they had signed former Giants and Dolphins linebacker Spencer Paysinger.

The 29-year old Paysinger is 6'3" and 249 pounds and has racked up 223 tackles in six NFL seasons, starting in 17 games. He was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon.


Paysinger was a safety and wide receiver at high school, where he was a team captain. He started off at Oregon as a special teams specialist, but eventually moved into the starting will linebacker role.

In three years as a starter, Paysinger racked up over 250 tackles and was a two-time all PAC-10 honorable mention.

Paysinger was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Giants after the 2011 draft and gradually saw his role on defense increase after again starting off mainly as a special teamer. In 2013, he ended up starting a career high 10 games and registering a career-best 74 tackles.

After the 2014 season, Paysinger moved to Miami on a one-year deal. He was mainly a special teamer again in 2015, but they re-signed him at the end of the year and he played more on defense in 2016, ending up the year as a starter in the nickel package.

The Jets signed Paysinger shortly after David Harris was released earlier this month.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Paysinger brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.


Most of Paysinger's workout numbers are about average for his position, although his three cone drill of 6.93 is impressive. He ran a 4.73 40-yard dash.

Paysinger weighed in at 234 at his pro day, having been listed at 216 in college. He's now listed at 249.


Paysinger is an off-the-ball linebacker, not an edge rusher. He's lined up all over the place in his career so far, but he'd primarily be an inside linebacker in the Jets system.

With Miami last year, he was used mostly in passing situations, requiring him to match up in the slot more than in the past.

Coverage skills

Paysinger has shown to be pretty reliable in coverage and that was his main role last year. Over the course of his career, he's only given up one touchdown and 8.5 yards per catch with no plays of more than 30 yards when targeted.

He hasn't made a lot of plays on the ball at the NFL level, entering last year with just one career pass defensed. However, he had three pass break-ups last season and when he was in college he was very productive in that area with 21 passes defensed and two interceptions, including this one which he returned for a touchdown:


As a converted wide receiver, you'd expect him to intercept a pass if the opportunity presented itself. However, he hasn't had one so far since entering the league.

Here's a touchdown he gave up as he latched on in man to man coverage at the goal line. A common issue is that he looks to rely on his athleticism to stay with his man and he does that here as he was unable to recover and make a play on the ball:


(Note: Paysinger wore #42 with Miami and #52 with the Giants)

In addition to his man coverage assignments, Paysinger was called on to drop into zone coverage, but was at times late to react:


Making reads/instincts

The book on Paysinger is that he lacks natural instincts. He is sometimes a beat slow to react in coverage and will hesitate at the snap unless he manages to identify a key before the snap.

Last year in Miami, there were a lot of mental errors throughout the back seven, so it's difficult to know how much of that was on Paysinger specifically.

Here's an example of a play where he makes a good read, staying active and reacting immediately when the runner has to cut back inside. He cuts inside his blocker and is rewarded with the chance to make a fumble recovery:


His awareness in coverage can be lacking at times too. Here he's manning the middle of the field in zone coverage, but fails to anticipate the in-breaking route and step into the passing lane in time:


Run defense

Paysinger has had some good production against the run, but perhaps doesn't make as many impact stops as you'd like. As noted, he wasn't used as much in run defense situations last year and wouldn't have been on the field in short yardage packages.

While he's good at making a read and bursting to the ball, Paysinger is not great at taking on blocks. On this play he is left in a tough position after the defensive end was fooled by the end around because he has to think about keeping contain. However, he is unable to prevent a long gain as he allows himself to be driven out of the cutback lane, leading to a long touchdown:


From watching his film, there was a lot of plays where Paysinger hustled back into a play to chase down a ball carrier or receiver down the field or pursued a play out to the sideline.

Special teams

Paysinger has always been productive on special teams, averaging about 10 tackles per season. In 2012, he was second in the entire NFL with 20 tackles. He's also been used in other roles such as punt protection.

Here's a play where he ran down in kick coverage and made the tackle, stripping the ball away and recovering it for a key turnover:



Paysinger has generally been a good tackler over the course of his career, but he had nine missed tackles on defense in 2016. Prior to that, he only had six in five seasons.

He only averages a couple of missed tackles per season on special teams, which is an acceptable number for a player who is so productive. However, on this play he missed a tackle on Trindon Holliday, leading to a touchdown return.


Pass rush

Paysinger will blitz from time to time but hasn't been particularly productive with just one sack and only a few pressures each season.

At Oregon, he had 6.5 sacks in his career, including three in his senior year.


As noted, Paysinger isn't a natural at taking on blocks or strong at the point of attack, but will throw his weight around in coverage sometimes.

He's had three penalties on defense, one for face masking and two in coverage, for holding and pass interference. On special teams, he's had four, three of which were for holding while blocking on a return.

Scheme familiarity

Paysinger played primarily in a 4-3 with the Giants, but the Dolphins play a more similar scheme to that of the Jets. Current Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers had just left the Dolphins when Paysinger was signed.

The Jets previously looked into signing Paysinger back in 2015 so they obviously feel he is or can be a good scheme fit.


Paysinger is regarded as having good character. He was praised for his intelligence, work ethic and preparation while in college and displays good leadership.

He hasn't had any off-field issues, fines or suspensions since being in the league.


Paysinger hasn't had any major injuries in his career so far. He played 13 games in each of his four college seasons and has played at least 14 games in each of his NFL seasons, missing just five games in total.

In 2016, he had issues with his elbow, neck and knee but missed just one game.


Paysinger brings the Jets some much needed size and experience and with the Jets lacking depth among their inside linebackers has a realistic chance to make the team.

You may think he will just be a camp body, but in researching Paysinger's arrival with the Giants and Dolphins, many fans were saying the same thing about him then too and he ended up ascending into a key role each time.

The Jets may be hoping that a young player like Connor Harris will step up and take a role for themselves, but adding a player like Paysinger provides them with a safety net that will provide at least base level competence as a defensive reserve and solid special teams production.