The New York Jets didn’t just lose a really good football player, but they lost one of their top leaders in the clubhouse.
He recently was introduced to the local media in Jacksonville and had some very interesting things to say.
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Well Those Comments Are Telling
When Fatukasi spoke at the podium he was asked, why Jacksonville?
“Oh, really it just came down to someone believing in me. Someone saw something in me, saw something about my ability. and took a chance on me. I’m always grateful for people that just gives me a chance because all you need is just one person to believe in you. That is what made me come here.”
After hearing those comments it’s hard not to try and read between the lines to see if Foley was taking an indirect shot at the Jets.
Gang Green of course took a chance on the 6-foot-4, 318-pound big man with the No. 180 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
After initially riding the pine during his rookie campaign, Fatukasi eventually became a role player and then transformed into a key starter in the trenches:
- 45 games played
- 115 combined tackles
- 18 tackles for loss
- 14 quarterback hits
Although beyond the stats, Fatukasi was also a locker room leader and team captain. His teammates rallied around that but ultimately the former UConn product got out of the Jets’ price range and left in free agency.
In these kinds of situations, it is a best for both sides kind of contract. The Jets were never going to pay him that much and Fatukasi who had just over $4 million in career earnings just got life-altering money for him and his family.
The Replacement Options
Since losing Fatukasi in free agency, the Jets haven’t done a whole heck of a lot to replace him or even improve the position.
They re-signed Nathan Shepherd who head coach Robert Saleh is a big fan of. Speaking of Saleh, they were able to successfully lure Solomon Thomas, the former No. 3 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers to the team.
He has some versatility across the defensive line but is expected to play predominantly on the inside at defensive tackle with Gang Green.
That still leaves a gaping hole in the middle and the Jets expect to address that in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft.
With bigger fish to fry at EDGE rusher, wide receiver, safety, and on the offensive line it is unlikely they’ll invest a premium resource on the interior defensive line.
That love will likely come on day three of the draft where the Jets have four selections, two in both the fourth and fifth rounds respectively.