Jets, Carl Lawson Agree To Reworked Deal

A Carl Lawson contract adjustment will create considerable cap space for the Jets. Going into the final year of his deal, the veteran defensive end will now be tied to a partially incentivized structure in 2023.

The Jets will create $12.7MM in cap space by reworking Lawson’s contract, Field Yates of reports (on Twitter). Previously due a nonguaranteed $15MM in base salary, Lawson will now be tied to a $9MM paragraph 5 number. But $8MM of the new total is guaranteed, Yates adds.

Although this represents a salary reduction, Lawson can make $3MM back via incentives. The Jets signed the former Bengals fourth-rounder to a three-year, $45MM deal in 2021. Thursday’s move bumps the Jets to nearly $19MM in cap space. Lawson’s cap number will now check in at $3MM, with ESPN’s Rich Cimini adding (via Twitter) the contract now contains void years. Four void years are now present, SNY’s Connor Hughes tweets. This would stick the Jets with a dead-money cost if they do not re-sign Lawson before the 2024 league year.

This marks a bit of an interesting call, considering Lawson’s status as the Jets’ most proven edge rusher. The team’s D-line setup hinges on the seventh-year veteran, who anchors an edge group now featuring two recent first-round picks in Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald. Lawson finished with seven sacks last season, adding 24 quarterback hits in his first year back from a summer 2021 Achilles tear.

Robert Saleh indicated earlier this offseason Lawson’s status was secure, despite the $15.4MM in cap savings the Jets would have collected by moving on a year early. Given Lawson’s production, he did not seem in danger of not earning the $15MM in base pay — a number that would have been guaranteed once he landed on the Jets’ 53-man roster for Week 1 — but Cimini notes the Jets deemed the $15.7MM cap number too high (Twitter link). Rather than push the team to an impasse, Lawson will collect come guaranteed dough early.

Lawson led Jets edge players in sacks last season, though Quinnen Williams‘ 12 paced the team overall. Lawson’s return made a considerable difference in the Jets vaulting from last defensively in 2021 to fourth place last year. The 27-year-old pass rusher has yet to produce a 10-plus-sack season as a pro, but he has compiled four seasons of at least 20 QB hits. He stands to be one of the top edges available in free agency next year, should the Jets not come back to the table regarding an extension before the 2024 legal tampering period begins.

Thursday’s move also lays some groundwork for Aaron Rodgersexpected restructure, one that will increase the future Hall of Famer’s 2023 cap number. The recently acquired quarterback is tied to just a $1.2MM cap hit this year and a monstrous $107.6MM number in 2024. The Packers restructured Rodgers’ deal on his way out, and Jets GM Joe Douglas was surprised by how that came to pass. The team will hope Rodgers comes back for a 20th season next year, but an obvious contract adjustment will need to take place before that happens.

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