Jets Trade for Former AFC East Foe, Fill Pass-Rusher Void

Shaq Lawson

Getty Former Buffalo Bills edge rusher Shaq Lawson comes up with a sack on November 24, 2019.

Ever since the New York Jets lost Carl Lawson to injury, one thing became abundantly clear — Joe Douglas needed to trade for a pass-rusher.

We’ve written countless articles about possible candidates because quite frankly, the Jets were open for business and they were looking at every option imaginable. In the end, Douglas finally found a match and it was a player my partner Boy Green recently mentioned.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport was the first to report on the move as Gang Green ended up replacing one Lawson with another.

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Jets Acquire Former First-Round Talent

The Green & White have traded a sixth-round pick for edge rusher Shaq Lawson. No matter how you look at it, this is a tremendous bang-for-your-buck move by Douglas.

This draft pick originally came over to the organization via San Francisco, when the Jets dealt pass-rusher Jordan Willis to the 49ers. Willis has 5.5 sacks in his career, Lawson has 20.5.

Essentially, Douglas flipped a depth edge rusher for a starter, and it didn’t cost much to do it.

Lawson only has a $1.4 million base salary in 2021, and the Jets will have the freedom to decide whether or not to keep him from there. He currently has an exorbitant cap hit in 2022, but that can always be restructured if the defensive end has a successful season in Robert Saleh’s system.

This was virtually a player dump for the Houston Texans, who are undergoing a massive rebuild under general manager Nick Caserio. They will pay a large part of the financials.

The pass-rusher is 27 years old and was a former first-round pick (19th overall) in 2016.

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Scouting Shaq Lawson

Jets fans should remember Lawson well, we’ve been facing him for the better part of the past five years. The Texans may have traded us the edge rusher but he never actually played a game for their franchise.

In fact, Lawson has never played a game for a team that was outside of the AFC East.

He spent his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, who drafted him in 2016. Over that period, Lawson accumulated 16.5 sacks and 38 quarterback hits. In 2020, the pass-rusher took his talents to South Beach and played for the Miami Dolphins.

Lawson definitely fits the 4-3 front best, excelling in 2019 with 28 quarterback pressures and 13 tackles for a loss. Make no mistake, this is a hardcore disruptor that can win one-on-one battles.

Over the past two campaigns, Lawson has averaged 26.5 pressures according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus also hasn’t rated him lower than a 65.0 in their pass-rushing category the last three seasons. His best grade was a 69.1 in 2019.

The best part about this veteran is that he can stop the run. We’ve seen multiple Jets’ youngsters struggle in this department during the preseason, including John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and Hamilcar Rashed Jr.

Lawson can hold the edge, with an 81.1 run defense grade in 2018 and a 66.1 last season. He’ll slot in perfectly for defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich as a full-time starter that can play on every snap.

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Jets’ Edge Rusher Situation After Deal

As we’ve been preaching nonstop, Douglas had to make a move after losing both Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry for the season. The Jets had very few veterans in the room and the pass rush became a nonfactor against Green Bay and Philadelphia.

This defense relies on a four-man rush, the cornerbacks just aren’t good enough to succeed without it, and Shaq Lawson is a player that can get to the quarterback alongside Quinnen Williams or Sheldon Rankins.

Here’s a look at the projected edge rushers after this transaction.

LEO 5-Technique
Shaq Lawson Franklin-Myers
Ronald Blair Huff
Jabari Zuniga Rashed Jr.
Jeremiah Valoaga Kyle Phillips/Aaron Adeoye

With roster cuts looming, expect this room to cut down significantly behind the top four or five names on this list.

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