‘Overvalued’ Jets Starter Under Fire: ‘Haven’t Received Return on Investment’

C.J. Mosley

Getty Miami Dolphins running back Duke Johnson beats New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley for a first down on December 19, 2021.

Since taking over the direction of the New York Jets franchise, general manager Joe Douglas has had to clear out a ton of bad contracts and cap space.

Just a couple of years ago, the organization ranked toward the bottom of the league in dead money — salaries you are still paying for players that are no longer on the roster. Upon writing this article on June 30, 2022, the Jets are now first in the NFL in that same category with a minuscule $2.082 million in dead cap.

Add in the fact that this building is now brimming with young talent and you get a sense of just how incredible the turnaround has been. Having said that, the Jets still need to trim the fat in one or two areas and that includes the largest cap hit on the team — a player who was signed by ex-GM Mike Maccagnan.

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NFL Writer Rips Mosley

During an article on CBS Sports with the headline, “overvalued players on every AFC team,” long-time NFL writer Jeff Kerr criticized linebacker C.J. Mosley for his lackluster play since signing with the Jets in 2019. He stated:

Ever since Mosley signed his five-year, $85 million contract with the Jets, the franchise hasn’t received a return on investment. Mosley has played just 18 games in his three seasons in New York, playing only two games in 2019 due to a groin injury and sitting out the entire 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mosley had a career-high 168 tackles in 2021 with two sacks and two forced fumbles, but allowed a 95.2 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks when he was the primary defender. Not exactly the two-way linebacker he was in Baltimore.

The Jets are relying on Mosley to return to his Pro Bowl form. Do they really have a choice with his contract?

Kerr has a point. Some look at Mosley’s 2021 campaign and see a success story. The NYJ captain returned to the field and started 16 games, posting a career-high 168 total tackles. He was also voted team MVP by his colleagues.

When you dive deeper into the analytics, that narrative goes down with the ship.

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The Captain Isn’t Pulling His Weight

For starters, Mosley was the linchpin of a 32nd-ranked unit. As Kerr noted, he was a total liability in pass coverage — an area he used to excel in — with a 50.2 grade on Pro Football Focus, 87% reception rate against, zero interceptions and just two passes defended on the entire season.

Mosley’s run defense was also a shell of his former self. His PFF grade was a pitiful 38.5 against the ground game although to be fair, the veteran linebacker only had a missed tackle percentage of 7.5% with a solid defensive “stop” percentage of 9.5%.

In terms of average depth of tackle — how many yards a player gained before a defender made the stop — Mosley’s 3.8 average was tied for 27th in the league among linebackers who logged at least 50% of snaps in 2021.

Judging by these analytics, was Mosley’s third year with the Jets awful? No, in a better defense he would have likely served as your average linebacker with plus tackling and passable stats against the run and the pass.

You expect more from a $17.5 million asset though, and 2022 certainly looks to be make-or-break for the team captain. If the Jets cut Mosley after June 1 next offseason, they’ll save $17 million out of the $18.5 million they owe him. It would take a stellar campaign or a major restructuring for Douglas to pass up significant cap savings like that.

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