Jets Trade Rumors: NYJ Eying a Pass-Rusher After Carl Lawson's Season-Ending Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2021

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JULY 29: Carl Lawson #58 of the New York Jets works out during a morning practice at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 29, 2021 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The New York Jets have reportedly started to survey the trade market for potential edge-rushing help after defensive end Carl Lawson suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles in Thursday's practice.

"A trade before the season is being explored," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday.

New York finished 20th in the NFL with 31 sacks during the 2020 season. It signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March to help solve that lack of a consistent pass rush.

The 26-year-old Auburn product looked downright dominant at times throughout training camp and seemed poised to provide the Jets defense with a massive boost in 2021. He'd recorded 20 sacks in 51 appearances across four years with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Now his injury has sent the Jets' front office back to the drawing board with just three weeks until they open the regular season by visiting the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 12.

"The man puts in the work. He does everything the right way," head coach Robert Saleh told reporters. "You could not ask for a more perfect big-money free agent who came in and just does things the right way. Despite getting paid, he still wanted more. I just feel bad for him."

Vinny Curry, another free-agent addition at defensive end, is also sidelined through at least Week 1 after undergoing an "undisclosed offseason procedure."

Jabari Zuniga, John Franklin-Myers, Jeremiah Valoaga and Bryce Huff lead the group of defensive ends left to compete for a starting job to open the campaign.

Although Schefter didn't name any specific trade targets, the Jets should benefit from beginning their search at a time when teams are heading toward their final roster cuts. Front offices are always willing to take a late-round draft pick rather than letting a player hit the free-agent market with no compensation.

New York's other option could be waiting to see how it plays during the first half of the season before the Nov. 2 trade deadline. If it's still in the hunt for a playoff spot, it can try to land a marquee edge-rusher from a team that's already faded from the postseason conversation.

The Jets wrap up their preseason slate Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles before shifting their focus to the opener against the Panthers.

New York is aiming to end an NFL-long 10-year playoff drought in 2021 with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, leading the way.