The Money The New York Jets Have Invested In Their Pass Rush Must Pay Off In 2022
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Carl Lawson sees the New York Jets’ edge rushers as not only a talented group of players, but also an interesting one from a standpoint of storylines.

“I love this group,” the 26-year-old pass rusher said recently, “because it’s a bunch of guys with different back stories. It’s going to be a competitive group so it’s going to create a breeding ground for absolute monsters.”

And because of that, New York hopes, a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and plenty of sacks.

The Jets tied for 25th in the NFL in sacks last season with 33, a big part of the reason they finished 30th in passing yards allowed and last in passing yards per attempt (8.4). They were next-to-last in passer rating permitted (103.2).

It was almost the same production from 2021, when the Jets had 31 sacks in a 16-game season. Thus they averaged 1.9375 sacks in 2021, and 1.9411 in 2021.

Lawson was supposed to help fix that problem last season, but he suffered a torn Achilles’ in training camp and didn’t play a regular-season snap after signing for ???, per

He said he expects to be a full go by the time training camp begins in late July, but added, “It’s up to the organization.”

Lawson will count for $15.333 million against the salary cap this season.

As for his expectations for himself this season, he said, “I plan on being better than what I was.”

Lawson had 20 sacks in four seasons with Cincinnati. His high was 8.5 as a rookie in 2017.

Also back in the mix after missing last season is veteran Vinny Curry, who sat out last season because of a rare blood disorder. A blood clot necessitated the removal of his spleen.

Curry, 33, has 32.5 sacks in a nine-year career, mostly with Philadelphia. He totaled eight sacks in the 2019-20 seasons with the Eagles, including three in 2020. He figures to have a part-time role and $800,000 of his $1.12 million contract (also his cap figure) is fully guaranteed.

Former Houston Texan Jacob Martin, younger brother of former Jet Josh Martin, signed a three-year free-agent deal in March for $6 million fully guaranteed. His cap figure is $2.356 million.

Martin had four sacks last season and has 13.5 in 61 career games. The analytics favor the 6-2, 242-pound Martin, who has an explosive first step and the Jets believe he could have a breakthrough season.

“Your first step is everything,” Martin said. How I pass rush is I’m trying to close space, make offensive linemen as uncomfortable as possible, and to do that, you have to get up on them as fast as possible.”

Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson had 12 sacks in 2021, his final year in college, and was discussed in more detail here and here. Johnson already is signed and has a cap figure of $2.379 million. The Jets traded a fifth-round pick to get back into the first round for the right to select Johnson, and thus they obviously see him as a huge piece to the puzzle.

They picked another edge rusher with their final selection, No. 117 in the fourth round. Texas A&M’s Micheal Clemons. He had 11 sacks in 2020 and 2021 for the Aggies, including seven last season. But he was a fourth-round pick because he is considered stiff and upright.

However, Clemons is able to use his long reach to literally push around offensive linemen.

“I plan on making an impact,” he said.

“He’s intense,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Clemons. “He loves ball, I will say that, he absolutely loves ball. … He was voted captain at Texas A&M, so he’s well-liked by his peers. He’s a very exciting young man to have been able to get when we got him on day three.”

And don’t forget young veteran John Franklin-Myers. He gave the Jets’ pass rush somewhat of a spark with three sacks in the first four games. He then signed a four-year extension with $30 million guaranteed but had only three sacks afterward. His cap number of $12.47 million is the fourth-highest on the team this season, and the Jets need him to return to that early 2021 form.

Lawson expanded upon the interesting mix of Jets looking to get to the passer.

You’ve got guys wanting to come back and prove themselves like myself,” he said. “You’ve got undrafted guys (such as third-year player Bryce Huff). You’ve got guys who went to JUCO (Johnson and Clemons). You’ve got a guy coming off a life-threatening (illness) in Vinny Curry.

“You’ve got so many people,” he added, “coming off different adversities and then you’ve got that competitive nature. If this guy is slacking off, I want to be the best. And you’ve got guys who love football.”

And they all will be competing for playing time and trying to turn a weakness into a strength.

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