The New York Jets, armed with a treasure trove of cap space, made their first two big splashes in free agency by signing former first round Wide Receiver Corey Davis from and a TOJ favorite going back to his Auburn days in former Bengals EDGE Carl Lawson. The contracts are a 3 year, $37.5M deal with $27 million guaranteed for Davis and a 3 year, $45M with $30M guaranteed for Lawson.
Let’s start with the pass catcher.The former Titans WR, and now Jets WR, had a catch rate of 72%: for comparison’s sake, that would’ve lapped the Jets’s top WR (the hopefully soon-to-be departed Jamison Crowder) by 6%. His 65 catches and 984 yards would’ve been tops on the Jets team last year, also, and his five touchdowns last year would’ve been 2nd highest on the team. He averaged 15 yards per reception, was 8th in the league in yards per target with 10.7, was 4th in the league in yards per route run with 2.67, and Ryan Tannehill had a QB rating of 126.3 when targeting the new Jets WR. At 6’3″ and 209 pounds, he gives the Jets more size on the outside when paired with Denzel Mims, and is a very good run blocker joining a team that you’d think will be running the ball. Davis is, also, 26 years old and is presumably entering the prime of his career.
The contract given is better than what the Patriots gave Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne: two WRs that are less proven than Davis. Davis’s first draft pedigree had folks calling him a bust really early on in his career, but ironically he really blossomed in another LaFleur’s offense before taking that next step under now Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith. This isn’t Wide Receiver number one money by any means, so now this begs the question: does new Head Coach Robert Saleh believe that Denzel Mims has WR one potential in this offense, or will the Jets look to replace their expensive slot WR and add another WR so Mims, Davis, and this yet-to-be added WR can be parts of an interchangeable pass attack?
If I had to wager, i’d go with the latter: with Kenny Giolladay reportedly asking for $14M to 16M as an average annual salary, and both Juju Smith Schuster and Curtis Samuel still out there, plus the presence of the potential for a Sam Darnold for Allen Robinson trade, the Jets could trade or release Jamison Crowder and save $10M this year. They could, then, roll those savings into Golladay, Smith-Schuster, Samuel, or Robinson’s year one cap number. Whoever your QB is walking into a situation where their three top pass catchers are locked in for at least their first two seasons (if you opt for a rookie signal caller).
That’s the kind of stability you can, also, sell on a 25 year old franchise QB that wants out of Houston.With Carl Lawson, who I have loved since he was in college and who Badlands Co-Host Connor Rogers and I spent months hoping the Jets would draft him when he was coming out of Auburn, the Jets FINALLY take a big money swing to solve the gaping hole at EDGE that has existed for nearing a decade. Lawson had 64 QBDs (quarterback disruptions = sacks + hits + hurries) on 437 pass rush snaps, an average quarterback disruption rate of one every 6.8 dropbacks. This was an almost one QBD improvement from last year to this year, where he was still at a whopping 7.6 snaps per each disruption. Lawson, also, had 2 forced fumbles and he was just around the quarterback every game. Tying this into Dan Essien’s article from earlier, the Jets appear committed to creating this ring of chaos around the Quarterback by removing Henry Anderson and adding Carl Lawson and switching to a 4-3. This will allow veteran CJ Mosley, who will return at ILB this year, to be deployed as a blitzer and in run support similar to how Fred Warner was used last year. This, also, gives Quinnen Williams a dominant pass rusher next to him on this defensive line that can free him up with more one on ones.
The Jets currently have no OLB, so the work to rebuild this front seven is far from done, but Lawson, Williams, John Franklyn-Myers, and Foley Fatukasi up front could work really well. If they opt to use pick 23 on an edge, like Miami EDGE Jaelen Phillips, and sign a Trey Hendrickson as a complimentary piece then a front seven that is buoyed by Phillips and Hendrickson at OLB and Mosley in the middle becomes incredibly formidable for Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich to deploy.
Joe Douglas missed on the offensive line earlier, but this was a good bounceback for him to end day one with some much needed talent for the Jets at two positions of need.