The New York Jets have locked in a dynamic piece of its backfield.
The 20-year-old signed a four-year deal worth $4.1 million in total value. That includes a $335,538 signing bonus and Abanikanda is set to make $750,000 in base salary in 2023.
Israel Abanikanda Will Have a Clear Role on 2023 Jets
Israel Abanikanda affectionately known more simply as Izzy was the No. 143 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL draft.
Abanikanda spent his college days at Pittsburgh but getting selected by the Jets is a true coming home call. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
The 5-foot-10, 216-pound running back ran a blazing 4.41 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. That shouldn’t be that surprising considering his father, Saidi, was a sprinter and Abanikanda himself ran track in high school.
The Jets are hoping for some shorter drives in 2023. Every time Abanikanda touches the ball there is a chance it can go to the house.
Long 10+ play drives aren’t sustainable consistently throughout a contest. An offense needs some quick-hitting scores to alleviate some of the pressure.
Breece Hall and Israel Abanikanda Can Be a Dynamic 1-2 Jets Punch
Abanikanda was selected in part as Breece Hall insurance. He tore his ACL in the Week 7 matchup versus the Denver Broncos.
While the team is optimistic he’ll be ready for the season opener, they have to prepare for the worst-case scenario that he won’t be available. In that way Izzy will be able to be a plug-and-play option in this running back by committee the team is going to employ.
However, when Hall regains his health, Izzy won’t be fading into the background. As a matter of fact, the presence of Abanikanda can extend the shelf life of Hall.
The day and age of bell-cow running backs carrying an entire offense are few and far between. Those players that can still do it in 2023 are dinosaurs and outliers as opposed to a hint of what’s to come.
NFL teams need an array of rushers in the backfield so everyone can stay fresh. The good thing is Hall and Abanikanda are such similar-style running backs.
Hall showed in flashes last year that he can take a normal five or six-yard run all the way to the end zone if he gets a crease.
The other running backs in the backfield can serve as a change of pace with Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. Those guys can’t be relied upon as big-time volume players but they should also find ways to contribute next season.
Carter had an interesting rookie season but fell off for whatever reason as a sophomore. Then Knight flashed late in the season, but then he fizzled by the time the end of the campaign came. We’ll see how they bounce back in 2023.