The New York Jets had one of the best steals of the 2021 NFL draft. They discovered an overlooked 5-foot-8, 201-pound stud with the No. 107 overall pick in the fourth round out of North Carolina.
Not only did Michael Carter far outplay his draft status but he solidified himself as a running back of the future.
In 14 games he totaled 964 yards from scrimmage, with 36 receptions, and four touchdowns. It took him a little while to find his role in the offense, but once he found it, he quickly became a key cog.
Although there were a lot of injuries that raised some eyebrows on 1 Jets Drive.
In the NFL today most teams operate with a running back by committee. A group thinking approach that features several different players with unique skillsets to complement one another.
It is time for the Jets to find their 1B to their 1A running back this offseason and one analyst had the perfect solution to their problems.
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A Super Interesting Longshot to Watch
Jets analyst Joe Caporoso listed Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette as a “long shot to watch” this offseason in his Badlands mock offseason.
The talented former LSU product is in the last year of his deal with a $3.25 million cap hit and will be an unrestricted free agent this spring.
Fournette originally entered the league as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After two super-productive seasons over three years with the Jags, he was surprisingly released right ahead of the 2020 season.
He quickly found a home with Tampa Bay and helped deliver a Super Bowl championship last season.
All in all, the 27-year-old has 3,810 career rushing yards with over 35 touchdowns during his five years in the pros.
According to Spotrac’s market value, Fournette is projected to land a two-year deal for $12 million this offseason. That $6 million salary would rank 13th best in the NFL among running backs.
A Smash and Dash Combination
This isn’t the No. 1 priority and maybe it isn’t even in the top-five for the Jets this offseason, but it should be on the list.
MC1 is a really nice piece, but if we learned anything from his rookie campaign he needs a Robin to his Batman.
Carter is shifty, quick, and versatile but he lacks size and power. That is something that was missing from the offense in key football situations when they got to short-yardage or the goal-line.
Fourntette could be the perfect complement to the puzzle.
He is a large back at 6-foot, 228 pounds, and can bring the smash to Carter’s dash. It isn’t a perfect comparison, but back during the height of the Tennessee Titans, they had Chris Johnson, a pure speedster, paired with a power back in LenDale White.
The constant shifting of styles kept opposing defenses on their heels and it was a potent offensive combination that led the Titans to great heights.
Gang Green would love to create something similar in their own backfield to create a balanced offensive approach heading into next season.
This recipe featuring two running backs that can carry the load will lessen the stress on either back to be the sole contributor. That should help from a freshness and health perspective and give the Jets a fantastic 1-2 punch for the next batch of years.
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