C.J. Mosley will become the latest player to pass on the 2020 season. The Jets linebacker is opting out, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
The former Ravens first-round pick’s Jets career barely started last year, with injury setbacks limiting him to 114 snaps in two games. Now, the Pro Bowl linebacker will wait until 2021 to make an impact with his second NFL team.
While the Jets are not expected to be a serious 2020 contender, this represents another major setback. They made Mosley the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker (by far) last year, in signing him to a five-year, $85MM deal. Bobby Wagner since surpassed that pact, but by 2021, Mosley will have played two of a possible 32 games with the Jets, who have already paid him $29MM.
With Jamal Adams now a teammate of Wagner’s in Seattle, after last weekend’s blockbuster trade, the Jets have lost their two best defenders in a seven-day span.
The second year of Mosley’s contract will toll to 2021, now making the deal run through the 2024 season. But this leaves a major hole among a Jets linebacking corps that also has Avery Williamson returning from a season-long injury absence. The Jets placed Williamson on their active/PUP list earlier this week.
Dont’a Hightower, Nate Solder and Damien Williams are among the biggest names to opt out. Mosley is the most decorated player set to skip the season. The 2014 first-rounder has made four Pro Bowls. The Ravens wanted to re-sign the inside linebacker last year, but the Alabama product understandably did not turn down a monster Jets offer that raised the off-ball ‘backer salary ceiling by nearly $3MM. Mosley has four 100-plus-tackle seasons on his resume.
A groin injury sidelined Mosley last season. He suffered the ailment in September, attempted to come back during a Monday night in October but aggravated the malady and missed the rest of the campaign. Mosley underwent surgery in December and received a clean bill of health in June. He will have more time to ensure he’s 100% now, with the Jets set to miss out on his age-28 season after mostly missing his age-27 slate.
Considering Mosley and Williamson’s salaries, the Jets are obviously limited at this position beyond their top two talents. While the Jets were a quality run-defending team without their top defensive investment, ranking second in DVOA against ground attacks, Pro Football Focus did not have a high opinion of any of their non-Mosley linebackers. The team signed former Mosley Baltimore teammate Patrick Onwuasor; his 2020 role stands to increase now. James Burgess, Neville Hewitt and 2019 fifth-round pick Blake Cashman are also part of Gang Green’s linebacking corps. Available free agents include ex-Giant Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron and Wesley Woodyard.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.