This week is the regular-season finale for the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo, with a win, would clinch their second straight AFC East title and well the Jets are playing for pride and the role of spoiler in the midst of a 4-12 season.
Although that is a role head coach Robert Saleh is fully embracing heading into game week:
Something he may not embrace is a potential trade to a divisional rival, yet that very idea was recently explored by an analyst.
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Kristopher Knox wrote a hypothetical column for Bleacher Report picking one trade each NFL team “wishes” it could make ahead of its postseason run.
While the Jets, unfortunately, weren’t featured in the article because they missed the playoffs for an 11th consecutive season in 2021, they still had a player that another playoff team desired.
Obviously, the NFL trade deadline came and went way back on November 2, but this is a hypothetical scenario. Knox attempted to keep these trades as “realistic as possible” for both sides.
With that being said, Knox linked Jets defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi to the Bills in a potential deal. In return Gang Green would receive an “early day three pick,” That would be in the fourth to the seventh round range, for those less inclined on NFL draft lingo.
“Fatukasi has been a terrific run-stuffing interior defender for the Jets and had 44 tackles, 20 solo stops, and five tackles for loss coming into Week 17.
While Buffalo has invested heavily in its defensive line in recent years—using early picks on the likes of Ed Oliver, Gregory Rousseau, and A.J. Epenesa—run defense has still been an issue during the 2021 season.
Buffalo ranks 19th in rushing yards allowed and 14th in yards per carry allowed. It has allowed 19 rushing touchdowns, the sixth-most in the NFL. Between Weeks 13 and 16, the Bills defense surrendered an average of 165 rushing yards per game.”
The Bills have faced some real challenges when they have to go up against a formidable rushing attack this season. Fatukasi could immediately provide a big body in the middle and some nice leadership in the locker room.
A Super Tough Question to Answer
While this specific trade was hypothetical, Fatukasi potentially playing in a different uniform in 2022 is very much a real possibility.
The 26-year-old is a pending free agent after spending the first four years of his career with the green and white.
He originally entered the league as the No. 180 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft out of UConn.
It didn’t take long for the big man to become a key cog in this defensive line rotation. While he isn’t an Aaron Donald sack specialist, Fatukasi has carved out a nice role as a run-stuffing 318-pound defensive tackle.
He can clog the lanes, eat double teams, and open up opportunities for his teammates around him. On top of his ability on the field, Fatukasi has become one of the leaders of not only this Jets defense but the team overall.
Which leads to a very difficult decision this offseason.
On paper, you’d love to bring Fatukasi back into the fold because he is a good glue guy and has been productive. Although as the million-dollar man said in WWF, “everybody’s got a price.”
In this case, Fatukasi is looking at quite a pay raise this offseason and that could prove too pricey for the green and white. I’ve spoken to some NFL execs that believe he could command between $7.5 to $8 million per season on a multi-year deal in 2022.
With so much money already invested in the defensive line with Carl Lawson ($45 million), John Franklin-Myers ($55 million), and soon Quinnen Williams, another big-time contract may be out of the cards for the Jets.