We’ll be breaking down all the major and minor moves for NFL Free Agency with grades and analysis. You can find the comprehensive list of moves and grades here.
Reported deal: Three years/$45 million with $30 million guaranteed
Look out, here come the Jets doing smart things. The Jets desperately needed help at wide receiver and edge as they entered free agency and came away with two of the best players at those positions without having to spend wildly.
Carl Lawson’s deal with the Jets is almost exactly what the Atlanta Falcons gave to Dante Fowler last offseason. Lawson will only turn 26 years old at the end of June. The 2018 season, when Lawson only played seven games, is his lone career season with fewer than 20 quarterback hits. He just put up 32 hits in 2020, which was second in the NFL, behind T.J. Watt. He was also 15th among edge rushers in pressure rate.
Lawson has consistently been a player who gets pressure over sacks — he had just 5.5 on his 32 hits (17%) but he’s also player that has consistently gotten pressure. A change of scheme and scenery could also help convert some of those hits into even more impactful plays.
Robert Saleh ramped up his blitzing with the 49ers last year when his pass rush depth became depleted from injuries, but he had previously relied heavily on the four-man rush to get pressure. It has yet to be determined which way he will go as head coach of the Jets.
For now, putting Lawson next to Quinnen Williams, who was fourth in Pass Rush Win Rate and first in Run Stop Win Rate as a defensive tackle, on the line is a solid foundation to build around. With Marcus Maye hanging around on the franchise tag and more money and draft assets that could be used to fill around them, this Jets defense could look better tha expected rather soon.