Jets Linked to ‘Break out’ Future Star EDGE Rusher in Free Agency

Arden Key, Raiders

Getty Former Las Vegas Raiders pass rusher Arden Key celebrating with some teammates after a massive play.

People often misinterpret what free agency is in the NFL.

Too often teams pay for what players did in the past instead of projecting what they can do in the future. That leads to teams more so paying for the glory days instead of what that player can do for you now.

If the New York Jets really want to be a team that pops in 2022 then they’re going to have to guess right on the open market. With that being said, there is one player that currently fits the bill who could be had at a bargain price.

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An Interesting Backstory to Think About

Kristopher Knox was recently tasked with locating the best potential bargains at every single position group heading into free agency in 2022.

On top of finding great deals, he also paired those players with their ideal fits in the NFL. For the Jets, he paired them with a familiar face from their coach’s past in Arden Key of the San Francisco 49ers.

The former LSU star entered the league with a lot of hype in 2018, but it was all smoke.

In his first three seasons with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, Key was a ghost appearing in games (37), but never really doing anything with those opportunities:

  • Three sacks
  • 49 combined tackles
  • 26 quarterback hits

Then suddenly in 2021 all of the pieces came together as Key exploded with a career season tallying 6.5 sacks when he joined the 49ers.

Although the most impressive part was his production in limited snaps. Last season he only played in 35 percent of the snaps, a career-low, but ended up with a career-high in sacks.

That is the strategy that head coach Robert Saleh employs to keep his defensive line fresh and maximize the talent on the roster.

Now with Key heading towards the open market, Pro Football Focus projects he’ll land a two-year deal for $12.5 million.

A Rising Stud in the Making

We started off this thread talking about paying for what a player can do for you in the future as opposed to paying a player for his past accomplishments.

Well, that theme is evident in this potential addition of Key to the Jets’ defense. At just 25 years of age (will be 26 by the start of the 2022 season), he has so much potential to become the prospect everyone thought he would be coming out of college.

Former Jets player and current analyst, Leger Douzable gave a great free agency pitch for Key on the NFL Stock Exchange podcast powered by Pro Football Focus:

“It is important to go to the right scheme or your talent can get lost. A perfect example is Arden Key this past year. Everyone was saying he is a bust and he went to the 49ers and had 6.5 sacks and now this guy is going to get paid. Where you go matters and coaching matters.”

Fortunately in that same line of thinking the 49ers and the Jets run essentially the same scheme on defense so Key could be a puzzle piece fit with the Jets.

With how often Gang Green rotates their defensive linemen, you can never have enough guys and Key could be a star in New York.

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