The Jets reportedly plan to trade or cut wide receiver Mecole Hardman, and several other notable players could be on the move. Per Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required), New York is willing to trade edge defender Carl Lawson and may be open to dealing running back Dalvin Cook as well.
Lawson joined the Jets on a three-year, $45MM deal in March 2021, but he missed all of the 2021 season due to an Achilles tear he sustained in August of that year. He bounced back to start all 17 of the club’s games in 2022, recording 24 quarterback hits and seven sacks. He also earned a strong 72.8 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus, though his 48.8 run defense grade left much to be desired.
The 28-year-old missed most of this year’s training camp due to back tightness, which also kept him out of the regular season opener. While he suited up for each of the next three contests, he did not appear in more than 23 snaps in any of them and was a healthy scratch in Week 5. It appears that he will not play a significant role on the defense moving forward, and he has become a trade candidate as a result.
Though he has never produced double-digit sacks in a single season, Lawson does have a track record as a useful pass rusher, and he will likely generate interest from other clubs. Further helping the Jets’ cause is the fact that Lawson agreed to a pay cut in May, making his contract easier to absorb. As he is in a platform season, however, New York’s return will naturally be limited.
Cook, meanwhile, joined the Jets in August in the hopes that he would become another high-profile weapon on an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. The longtime Viking has not yet played to his Pro Bowl potential and has accumulated just 97 rushing yards on 36 carries (good for a meager 2.7 yards-per-carry average). He has added eight catches for 44 yards.
Since second-year pro Breece Hall has looked just as explosive as he did before a torn ACL ended his rookie season prematurely, the Jets could be inclined to recover some draft pick compensation for their Cook investment. That would presumably lead to more work for Michael Carter — who played a prominent role in Gang Green’s backfield in each of the past two seasons — and fifth-round rookie Israel Abanikanda.
Rich Cimini of ESPN.com echoes Russini’s report that GM Joe Douglas could consider Cook expendable.