The New York Jets were dealt a brutal blow on Thursday afternoon.
Their star pass rusher and unquestioned best player during training camp went down in a crumpled heap during a joint practice vs the Green Bay Packers.
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This Is as Bad as It Could Have Possibly Been for the Jets
I’m not going to sugarcoat this, the Jets were dealt one of the worst possible blows of any player getting injured on the roster.
Not only did Gang Green hand $45 million to Lawson earlier this offseason, but he was the straw that was supposed to stir the drink.
Now his season has come to an abrupt halt and this leaves the Jets desperately searching for answers.
The first and most logical place the green and white will look is inside their own building.
Bryce Huff is the most obvious answer and he had an impressive preseason debut last week racking up two sacks, but let’s not blow smoke here, there’s a big difference between the former Memphis product and Lawson.
Huff was an undrafted free agent in 2020 and Lawson was the highest-paid Jets player in all of free agency. They’re going from filet mignon to chopped liver and it seems unrealistic to expect Huff to fill that massive void on the roster.
There are a few other players on the roster that could make sense:
The latter two players on that list aren’t even a guarantee to be ready by Week 1 which is obviously a concern.
Fortunately, the Jets have a lot of depth on the defensive line, but make no mistake about it, losing Lawson is an absolutely gut-wrenching blow to this defense and their expectations for the upcoming 2021 season.
Top Options to Replace the Former Bengals Stud
Let’s put it this way, there’s no way the Jets are going to be able to successfully replace what Lawson was going to be for this team just a few weeks out from the season opener.
The former Bengals’ role is paramount to the success of the rest of the defense. With him now out of the picture for 2021, the Jets must be proactive in replacing him or at the very least trying to as soon as possible.
The first name that immediately comes to the forefront as a possibility is Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones.
The Jets should do their due diligence and see what it would take to pry the talented pass rusher from the desert.
Jones is capable of filling the massive void that is left on the roster. In five of the last six seasons, Jones has registered double-digit sacks (73.5 sacks over that span).
While some may question whether or not the Jets should consider making a move of this magnitude, it is worth it.
Are the Jets a year away from truly contending? Perhaps, but without a true edge rusher that strikes fear into the opposing offense, this defense is going to fold like a used lawn chair.
If the pass rush can’t get there, this inexperienced secondary is going to get exposed and everything is going to fall apart at the seams.
Other options on the free-agent market:
Everson Griffen is probably the most talented free agent still left on the open market. He has a proven track record of success although there’s a ton of mutual interest between him and the Minnesota Vikings on a possible reunion. If the Jets don’t act fast here they could lose out.
Out of all the options that are out there, Murphy is probably the most underwhelming. His career stats don’t jump out at you, but he’s a solid veteran placeholder that could step in.
Speaking of Achilles injuries, Vernon had surgery for the same injury back in January so his status is unknown at this point. If healthy, the veteran pass rusher can be a nice rotational piece. He only has one double-digit sack season in nine years, but he has had at least 3.5 sacks every year of his career.
Obviously, this player has a checkered past and that could be an immediate red flag that general manager Joe Douglas isn’t willing to deal with. If he can look past the off-the-field issues and can fall in love with the talent, it is easy to see his fit on this team.