He ended up signing a massive three-year deal worth over $30 million to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gang Green attempted to replace him with both DJ Jones of the San Francisco 49ers and BJ Hill of the Cincinnati Bengals, according to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, but they decided to go elsewhere in free agency.
The natural next question is what the heck do they do now? Well, one insider has an answer to that pressing question.
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A Big Time Value
Hughes listed an interesting name that is still unsigned that could be a “cheap acquisition” for the Jets to fill one of their most underrated needs, former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks.
The 32-year-old stud is set to enter his 11th professional season after being the No. 89 overall pick in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.
While there is certainly some tread on those tires, with the Jets he would be a rotational defensive lineman which should keep him fresh.
Hicks has played for three different NFL franchises over the last decade and has some impressive statistics:
- 40.5 sacks
- 111 quarterback hits
- Over 387 combined tackles
- 73 tackles for loss
What Fatukasi brought to the table as a run-stuffer was incredibly valuable, but hard to quantify his importance via the box score.
If the Jets had it their way and they could build the perfect defensive tackle in a lab, that player would have more of an attacking style that presents some pass rush.
One area that Hicks would be an upgrade is with his ability to penetrate the pocket.
Over the last six years, he has racked up 31 of his career 40.5 sacks, all of those with the Bears. This is a guy that clearly hasn’t seen his market develop the way he or his agency has wanted.
The Jets could provide a nice platform to display his talents on a one-year incentive-laden deal in 2022. If he is as good as he thinks he is, Hicks should pop with Saleh’s system and benefit from the other talented players around him.
At that point, he could cash in one more time in 2023 free agency and everyone wins.
2 Other Options to Monitor
Hughes also name-dropped two other players that are worth monitoring during the second and third waves of free agency.
Linval Joseph, Los Angeles Chargers
A 33-year-old big man at 6-foot-4, 329 pounds who has a Super Bowl championship and several individual accolades:
- Two-time Pro Bowler
- 25 sacks
- Eight forced fumbles
Sheldon Richardson, Minnesota Vikings
The 31-year-old originally was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft by the Jets. He rose to fame earning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and became a key cog on defense.
We talked about it a few weeks ago when Rich Cimini brought it up on an Instagram live that a reunion could be possible.
One way or another the Jets plan on adding a veteran to this mix because the depth is clearly lacking. Also, don’t rule out Gang Green adding a rookie to the mix with nine picks in their back pocket in April’s draft.