The New York Jets have to employ the hope for the best and expect the worst kind of strategy this offseason.
One player they really like, but it is unclear if they’ll be able to retain him ahead of free agency is defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets and his representatives have been speaking for months, but there has been no dice on a new deal. With things looking grim ahead of free agency, it’s time to start looking for potential replacements.
This week they may have done exactly that in the college football ranks.
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A Very Interesting Meeting of the Minds
Gang Green was one of 29 NFL teams that met with Tennessee Volunteers defensive stud Matthew Butler at the Shrine Bowl, per Justin Melo of The Draft Network.
Butler went to school in Tennessee almost long enough to be a doctor with five years under his belt from 2017 through 2021.
During that span he posted some solid numbers that could indicate some potential underneath the surface:
- 9.5 sacks
- 16 tackles for loss
- Over 152 total tackles
- 53 games played
The 6-foot-3, 299-pound defensive tackle has all the tools to be an immediate contributor at the next level. A scheme versatile player that has a very balanced game both in run defense and pass-rushing situations.
Gang Green could very well lose Fatukasi this offseason and their roster lacks proven options to step up in his place.
Arguably a run-stuffing defensive tackle is the most underrated need on the team and it would be somewhat poetic to fill that void with one of the most underrated players in this draft class.
An Under the Radar Option to Plug-In
While the Jets are loaded with high-end draft capital, there are only so many positions you can address in the first couple of rounds.
The real key for the green and white is finding these mid to late-round gems that they can bring into their building and develop into stars.
That could very much be the case here with Butler.
Depending on who you talk to you’ll get a different answer on the former Volunteer’s draft stock. He received a late day-two, early day-three grade from Tom Mead of Steelers Depot.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid said something similar, projecting him as an early day three pick (which covers the fourth through seventh rounds).
Although after his performance in the Shrine Bowl that stock seems very much on the rise.
Eric Galko the Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel for the Shrine Bowl said that Butler was among the “biggest winners” from the college all-star event.
Reid said the talented defender “caught the eye” of all the scouts in attendance.
Although despite all the buzz he isn’t a perfect player by any means. Butler has been plagued by inconsistency, some concerns about his “stamina”, and his “finishing ability” on tape.
This is one of those situations where the coaching staff has seen the flashes and they believe in their ability to get the most out of a player. This would be a low-risk flier that could prove major dividends in the Jets defensive line room as a rotational piece.