Are the New York Jets downright unlucky?
Last season, they had the shot of getting the top overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
However, they suddenly had a two-game win streak to give the Jacksonville Jaguars the first pick.
Now, defensive end Carl Lawson is out for the season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon on his left leg.
Even worse, he got the injury during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers and not in an actual game.
Crazy scenes at practice today for the #Jets as DE Carl Lawson was taken away injured on a cart.
— Wesley Steinberg (@WesSteinberg) August 19, 2021
As the highest-paid player on the payroll, the Jets had high hopes for Lawson.
After spending his first four years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, the former Auburn standout signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Jets.
He was scheduled to make $14.3 million this year which includes a $6.2 base salary, a $7.8 million roster bonus, and $333,000 signing bonus.
Critics will argue that the Jets paid a king’s ransom to acquire his services.
But a look at his numbers justifies the value.
Lawson’s Performance At Cincinnati
The 26-year-old pass rusher is coming off a season wherein he played all 16 games and made 5.5 sacks.
He also had 36 total tackles, two forced fumbles, four tackles for loss, and 32 quarterback hits.
That all-around capability to disrupt opposing offenses made the Jets desire him in free agency.
.@nyjets Edge rusher Carl Lawson managed 24 hits on the QB last season for the Cincinnati Bengals (2nd highest in the league)
How will he perform in NY? pic.twitter.com/60nTW6jWLn
— Sportskeeda Pro Football (@SKProFootball) June 19, 2021
However, there were also hiccups in his stay with the Bengals.
After a rookie season that saw him collect 8.5 sacks and eight tackles for losses, he only played seven games in his sophomore season due to a torn ACL.
He bounced back in his third year with 23 tackles, 22 quarterback hits, six tackles for losses, and five sacks.
Big Shoes To Fill In Lawson’s Absence
Lawson plays a valuable role in head coach Robert Saleh’s defense because he is the wide rusher in their 4-3 base.
Without him, their pass rush might not be the same and the secondary will be under immense pressure to prevent completions.
While this is a major hiccup to their 2021 season, the Jets have some options that will help address the void that Lawson left.
First, they’ve already signed defensive end Aaron Adeoye as a rotation player.
However, he only played one game and took part in eight snaps for the Baltimore Ravens last season.
Still, it’s better to have an extra body just as the season is about to start.
Second, they can also look at the free agent pool for the position but even the list for that is shallow.
Third, they can also make a trade given their cap space and draft capital.
After losing Carl Lawson to a season-ending torn Achilles, the Jets now are looking for ways to acquire a pass rusher to help fill the void, per sources. A trade before the season is being explored.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 22, 2021
Chandler Jones did ask the Arizona Cardinals for a trade and New York can take advantage.
But paying too much for a short-term solution will cripple their cap flexibility.
Finally, the most logical option for the Jets is to elevate someone from their roster.
Bryce Huff showed promise during the preseason with two sacks and can be developed given his youth.
He is their best choice to compensate for Lawson’s production without disrupting their up-and-coming roster.