The New York Jets spent a lot of green during free agency, none more so than their investment at EDGE rusher.
Carl Lawson agreed to a three-year deal for $45M with $30M of that guaranteed. This was the most aggressive move the Jets have made at pass rusher since they took Vernon Gholston No. 6 overall in the 2008 NFL draft out of Ohio State.
There were a ton of different options available on the open market, but Gang Green picked the former Cincinnati Bengals star out of the bunch back in March.
Nothing in free agency is guaranteed and every move comes with a bit of risk. How will they translate to your scheme? Can they stay healthy? Are they a locker room fit?
Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report recently labeled Lawson the “riskiest” addition by the green and white this offseason.
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Sometimes You Have to Risk It To Get the Biscuit
“$30 million in guarantees is a lot of cabbage to give an edge-rusher who has never had nine sacks in a season and had just 5.5 a year ago,” Davenport on the Jets decision to add the former Bengals stud. “If Lawson doesn’t start converting those near-misses to sacks fairly quickly, it won’t take long for the New York media to turn on him.”
Lawson is a polarizing player and that has created a divide among NFL people.
Half of the population sees the high quarterback hit rate (career-high 32 of those in 2020) and next gen stats. While the other half of the audience sees a lack of sacks and a lot of guaranteed dollars.
Will, he able to make the next step in his development? That’s a risk.
Although it’s worth noting on the other side of the coin, that just because a player had a ton of prior production in his first spot, that doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be able to replicate those numbers in his new locale.
Is the Lawson addition risky? Sure it is, but sometimes you have to risk it to get the biscuit. The Jets have been driven by fear when it comes to pass rushers over the last 15 years.
Gholston is one of the biggest busts in not only Jets history but NFL history. When they swung and missed that badly, the team let that affect their future decision-making. They were unwilling to dip their toe back into the water and that created a ton of issues.
The Key To Unlocking Lawson’s Next Level Is Aggressiveness
“When we went into free agency, we weren’t looking for the guys with the obvious stats,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. “It wasn’t about the sacks, it was about finding a guy that consistently won the one-on-one matchups and Carl Lawson was exactly that. I think within this system he’s going to be able to be a bit more aggressive and jump out of his shoes a bit more than he has in the past.”
The other key to this equation goes beyond Lawson, it’s the other guys that are on the interior of this defensive line in the 4-3. Sheldon Rankins and Quinnen Williams each have the ability to collapse the pocket and make life difficult for the opposing quarterback. Ulbrich would go on to say, “these guys can feed each other.”
Part of the lack of stats for Lawson is because quarterbacks were able to step up in the pocket if he got by the offensive tackle during his time in Cincinnati. With the interior pressure, the Jets should be able to create there won’t be a pocket to step up into.
“I think the general public is going to find out who Carl Lawson is now because I think the stat numbers will be more consistent with his talent.”
Think about how things work in Vegas. The more you’re willing to risk, the higher the potential payout. Lawson has yet to achieve a double-digit sack season, but the analytics reveal he’s on the precipice of breaking out.
Gang Green is betting on what he can do in the future, not banking on what he has done in the past.