The New York Jets won’t be able to retain every in-house free agent that is set to hit the market. That is simply the nature of the beast in the NFL.
One of their top leaders is not only expected to reach free agency, but a new report suggests he will find mega-money from another team.
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A Surprising Amount of Moolah
NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo recently revealed his top under-the-radar free agents for the 2022 class.
During his segment on Good Morning Football, Garafolo wrapped up with Jets defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi:
“The guy who is the best at his position in stopping the run. As far as an analytics standpoint, PFF loves this guy and that is Foley Fatukasi of the Jets. He is 318 pounds, a space-eater that can take up blockers, and is a double-team kind of guy. You can’t look at the stats because you won’t see a lot of that stuff talking about interior defensive linemen.
This is a guy who is a leader and a spokesperson a lot of the time for the Jets. I have him in double-digits another eight-figure guy for me. This is a really good player that the Jets are going to try and retain but I’m feeling like he is going to wind up somewhere else.”
In other words, Garafalo is saying Fatukasi is expected to land a deal that pays him north of $10 million annually on a multi-year contract.
That figure would throw him in the top-15 highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
From everything I heard over the last couple of months his market was around the $7 to $8 million per year range, these latest numbers take him to a different stratosphere completely.
The 27-year-old defensive lineman is set to hit the open market for the first time in his career. Fatukasi originally entered the league as the No. 180 overall pick in the sixth round out of UConn.
Time to Look at Some Different Pastures
On paper, Fatukasi is the kind of player you want to retain and wish you had more players like him.
A local guy (born in Far Rockaway, New York) who entered the league as a late-day-three pick but developed into a key cog on the team. On top of what he has done on the field for the Jets, he has become an invaluable leader off of it.
Sadly this is an unfortunate confluence of events.
The Jets flipped schemes to a 4-3 and Fatukasi isn’t a natural fit, but he did the best he could considering the circumstances.
It doesn’t seem like the coaching staff values what Fatukasi brings to the table as a run stuffer. They believe they can get someone who does very similar things at a fraction of the cost.
While Garafolo said the Jets will try to keep him, it reminds me of those moments where you take a group out to dinner and someone gets alligator arms when they said they’d pick up the tab. Sure they’re reaching for it, but how far are they stretching?
Look for the team to explore some players from Robert Saleh’s past who will come dirt cheap on the open market as potential replacements.