The New York Jets announced that veteran pass-rusher Carl Lawson will miss the entire 2021 NFL season after rupturing his Achilles tendon.
The injury came during Thursday's practice.
Lawson signed a three-year, $45 million deal that included $30 million guaranteed with the Jets in the offseason.
The size of that contract spoke to how much New York expected of the 2017 fourth-round pick. Through four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, he recorded 20 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
In January, Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey described Lawson as perhaps "the best pure pass rusher to hit free agency this offseason." After spending most of his time in Cincinnati in a more limited role, the breakout opportunity was real in 2021.
The 26-year-old was making a strong impression on first-year head coach Robert Saleh in training camp.
Lawson was a sensible addition to a Jets defense that recorded 31 sacks as a team, tied for 20th.
With the regular season right around the corner, New York may have limited options to replace along the defensive line. Absent an outside addition, the onus could be on Ronald Blair or Bryce Huff to assume a starting role.
For Lawson, the concern extends beyond 2021.
The Athletic's Stephen Holder reported in May how major Achilles injuries aren't quite as deleterious to players' careers compared to past eras, but it's still a major hurdle to overcome.
The timing of Lawson's injury should at least allow him to be back to 100 percent in time for the 2022 season.