Every offseason NFL teams throw a surprise into the mix that we didn’t see coming.
The New York Jets did it last year when they surprisingly released veteran cornerback Bless Austin ahead of the 2021 season. Now it seems like they could pull a page out of their old playbook in 2022.
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Didn’t See That One Coming
Maurice Moton recently wrote a column for Bleacher Report where he predicted the most surprising veteran cuts that could happen this offseason.
One Jets veteran ended up making the list and that was defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
“Rankins may become a cap casualty because of the influx of talent along the Jets’ defensive line. The Jets can employ John Franklin-Myers and Vinny Curry as interior pass-rushers in sub-packages to create opportunities for a deep group of edge-rushers, which would put a squeeze on Rankins’ snaps at defensive tackle.”
Moton made some very compelling points in his argument, however, it would be surprising in several respects. Perhaps the biggest reason is the dollars and cents.
While the Jets could save around $3 million and change by releasing Rankins right now, it would be strange to do that after fully guaranteeing a large chunk of his contract back on March 20.
If the Jets were going to move on from Rankins, they would’ve done it prior to a portion of his contract becoming fully guaranteed.
Some Interesting Breadcrumbs Are There
If you squint, you can see where Moton found the breadcrumb trail to make this prediction.
The Jets have openly flirted with signing multiple defensive tackles this offseason.
Connor Hughes shared in an article for The Athletic that the team was interested in both BJ Hill and DJ Jones during free agency, but they simply chose other teams with better pedigrees.
Additionally, the Jets recently hosted Larry Ogunjobi on a multi-day visit to the team facilities and have a ton of interest in bringing him into the fold.
What could that mean for Rankins?
It could be a replacement plan or simply it could be general manager Joe Douglas doing Joe Douglas things.
For example, last offseason Gang Green was satisfied with their offensive tackle situation and then Morgan Moses fell from the skies in the middle of the offseason.
JD called it an opportunity he couldn’t pass up and was motivated to just add really good football players to the team.
That very well could be the same mindset at defensive tackle. Just because they add a body to the room at some point this offseason doesn’t necessarily indicate that Rankins is a goner.
One area they definitely want to improve in is their run defense. Last year Rankins finished with a 34.4 PFF run grade which was among the worst in the league.
If Gang Green adds a body ahead of training camp it’ll be to try and help fortify their depth at defensive tackle.