Carl Lawson will not play this season. After being carted off a practice field Thursday, the Jets’ recently acquired pass rusher went through an MRI that revealed an Achilles tear, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The former Bengals defensive end had stood out in Jets training camp and was expected to be their lead rusher. This represents a brutal blow for a team that has struggled for years to generate consistent edge pressure.
The Jets gave Lawson a three-year, $45MM deal in March, bringing the Auburn product to the Big Apple to lead Robert Saleh‘s pass rush. Only T.J. Watt produced more quarterback hits than Lawson’s 32 last season. While Lawson has just one six-sack season on his resume, he has been a solid pass rusher over the course of his career. The Jets guaranteed him a lofty $30MM. This will leave the team severely shorthanded on the edge.
This marks Lawson’s second major injury as a pro. His 2018 season ended after seven games due to an ACL tear. He did, however, tear his other ACL while at Auburn in 2014. Lawson, 26, successfully bounced back from the ACL issue, recording five sacks and 22 QB hits in 12 Bengals games in 2019. He built on that in 2020, leading to a career-changing payday after the Bengals opted not to use their franchise tag on him.
New York has a quality defensive tackle corps, led by Quinnen Williams, but is now quite vulnerable outside. Veteran Vinny Curry represents the most proven option beyond Lawson, but this will be his age-33 season. The Jets have lacked a surefire edge difference-maker since their 2006 John Abraham trade. After finishing second in the 2018 Khalil Mack sweepstakes and seeing Anthony Barr backtrack on a 2019 free agency agreement, the Jets landing Lawson proved significant. They will just have to wait to see how he impacts their latest rebuild effort.
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