Carl Lawson

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Thornton

The 2019 draft produced several long-running partnerships between defensive tackles and the teams that chose them in the first round. Four of the six DTs selected in Round 1 that year signed extensions this offseason. Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Dexter Lawrence and Jeffery Simmons have new deals in hand. Jerry Tillery did not work out for the Chargers, but he was the only first-round DT from the ’19 class not to negotiate an extension this offseason. Christian Wilkins spent months discussing a deal with the Dolphins, but the sides have tabled matters to 2024, when the former No. 13 overall pick will be on the cusp of free agency.

Guarantees represented a sticking point for Wilkins, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald offers that the Dolphins appeared to be skittish about authorizing a Williams-level deal for a player without much in the way of sack production. Wilkins’ camp undoubtedly pushed for terms in the Williams-Lawrence-Simmons-Daron Payne neighborhood ($22.5-$24MM per year), as the Clemson alum led all DTs with 98 tackles last season. Wilkins, who produced 89 tackles in 2021, has never topped 4.5 sacks in a season. He has also eclipsed seven QB hits in just one of his four NFL slates (13 in 2021). Wilkins has not requested a trade, per Jackson, and the Dolphins — despite trade interest emerging — are not interested in moving him.

The Dolphins will have the option of franchise-tagging Wilkins next year. The Commanders used the tag as a bridge to a Payne deal, but the D-tackle tag number will likely come in north of $20MM in 2024. The Dolphins are currently projected to be $27MM over the cap next year (29th in the league), though much will obviously change between now and then. Here is the latest from the AFC East:

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.

Jets Rumors: Beckham, Rodgers, Lawson, OL, Elliott

Free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made quite a few headlines during the league’s recent owners’ meetings in Arizona. One such headline came from Rich Cimini of ESPN who reported that the veteran wideout was seeking a one-year deal worth $15MM.

It’s a bit difficult to imagine a team dedicating that kind of capital to a 30-year-old wide receiver who is coming off his second ACL injury in three years. Beckham is still a talented athlete and displayed his abilities during his short time with the Rams. Cimini estimates that a contract worth $10-12MM is much more likely for Beckham. In terms of annual average value, this would place Beckham just under Corey Davis and over players like Michael Gallup, Curtis Samuel, and Tim Patrick.

Despite bits of buzz concerning a few other teams, the Jets seem to remain the favorite to land Beckham’s services for 2023.

Here are a few other rumors pertaining to Gang Green:

  • There’s an understanding around league circles that the Packers will eventually trade star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to New York. That understanding has, as of yet, failed to materialize, and according to Cimini, it has Jets owner Woody Johnsonanxious.” Johnson claimed to be anxious but optimistic as the team awaits the resolution to the problem of compensation. As the two sides continue to work towards equal compensation, the Jets aren’t getting impatient, asserting that there’s no deadline on when they’d like a deal to be done.
  • As the Jets entertain more potential additions to their roster, they have their salary cap to keep in mind. A question that has arisen in regard to that issue is whether or not New York will release defensive end Carl Lawson. The Jets have only been able to get one strong season out of Lawson since signing him in 2021. A ruptured Achilles tendon kept him from playing during his first season in New York before he was able to debut for the team this year. Now, after only one season of play, Lawson is set to take up the second-largest chunk of the Jets’ cap space. There is a potential out built into Lawson’s contract that would allow the Jets to cut Lawson with only $333,334 in dead money, saving $15.4MM in cap space. Head coach Robert Saleh reportedly turned down that possibility, according to Andy Vasquez of the Star-Ledger, claiming not to speak for general manager Joe Douglas, but asserting that “as long as (Lawson) can walk and play” he’ll be a Jet.
  • Saleh also spoke to the offensive line, according to Vasquez. While changes on the offensive line may be imminent with the addition of multiple offensive linemen in free agency, the head coach made sure to confirm the plan for Alijah Vera-Tucker to return to the right guard position in 2023. Also concerning the offensive line, Tony Pauline of provided an update on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, who reportedly is lighter than his NFL Combine weight after changing training facilities.
  • Another comment from Saleh concerned free agent running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to Vasquez. When asked about the possibility of bringing in the former Cowboy, Saleh told the media, “We love our running back room. I’ll leave it at that.” The Jets enter 2023 with a strong 1-2 punch of Breece Hall, whose rookie season was cut short due to injury, and Michael Carter.

Jets Rumors: QBs, Offseason, Injuries

After a season that saw the Jets start four different quarterbacks throughout the year, general manager Joe Douglas knows that New York has “a lot of work to do” at the position, according to Connor Hughes of SNY. Of the four passers who started games for the Jets this season, only second-year starter Zach Wilson and practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler are set to return to New York in 2023, after Streveler was announced to have signed a futures contract earlier this week. Veterans Joe Flacco and Mike White, on the other hand, are set to hit free agency.

Wilson was benched midway through the season and saw White take over starting duties. When White was injured, Wilson took over as the primary backup but was soon relegated back to the bench as White got healthy and Flacco started the season finale. Despite rumors that the Jets could move on from Wilson in the offseason, Douglas iterated that New York has “never been a team that has given up on talent early.” Hughes claims that the team expects to continue to work with Wilson moving forward. As for Wilson’s chances of starting, Douglas washed his hands of the decision, deferring the call to head coach Robert Saleh, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Cimini also noted last week a comment from then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who speculated that it “would’ve benefited” Wilson to allow him to sit and learn from a veteran. Unfortunately, when the team drafted Wilson, they had no such veteran. White had no NFL experience at the time, despite having been in the league for three years, and the only other quarterback on the roster was James Morgan. The team eventually brought in that experience, signing Josh Johnson late in that year’s training camp and trading midseason to bring in Flacco. LaFleur claimed he hasn’t done a good enough job of developing Wilson, saying that if any position player isn’t producing to the expected level, it’s a failure of the coach.

Wilson could potentially see his competition from this season return. White, who took the reins from Wilson this year, told Cimini that there is mutual interest in his return to the Jets from free agency. He also noted that situations change quickly in the league, hinting that he will keep his eyes open for other opportunities.

Here are a few other rumors from the Jets’ building as the franchise readies for the offseason:

  • Cimini took to ESPN as the Jets’ regular season came to an end and laid out the offseason plan for New York. Setting aside the search for a starting quarterback, mentioned in part above, and the search for a new course on offense after the firing of LaFleur, the Jets’ biggest focus will be free agency and salary cap space. To create cap space for free agent shopping, some guys with big cap hits may find themselves on the chopping block. Cutting players like wide receiver Corey Davis and offensive tackle Duane Brown could result in cap savings of $10.5MM and $5.3MM, respectively. Even players who have made significant contributions may find themselves in danger because of their salaries. Defensive end Carl Lawson could provide $15MM of cap savings, safety Jordan Whitehead $7.5MM, and return specialist Braxton Berrios $5MM. Not to mention star linebacker C.J. Mosley who is set to have a 2023 cap charge totaling $21.5MM.
  • In terms of what to look for in free agency, offensive line struggles severely hampered the team’s success this year. Starting guards Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker should return next season. After undergoing triceps surgery, Vera-Tucker is expected to be back in time for training camp, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Tackle Mekhi Becton is a question mark after missing the team’s last 33 games due to injuries and weight issues. Becton told Hughes he feels “real good” after losing a “lot” of weight and will be ready for Organized Team Activities. If Becton can’t deliver, the Jets are in trouble as they will watch tackle George Fant hit free agency and Brown could be a cap casualty or could just retire. Starting center Connor McGovern is also set to hit free agency.
  • While offensive line will be an important position to build, their most important signing may come on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams will be with the team through next year due to the fifth-round option of his rookie contract, but that may not be enough to satisfy Douglas and company. Williams has established himself as one of the best at his position and will likely expect to be paid like it. Douglas will want to find an extended contract for Williams long before the idea of free agency enters his mind.
  • Lawson had a strong first year in New York despite coming back from an Achilles injury. Lawson’s recovery hit a snag when he needed a second surgery. He even tweaked something in rehab and was expected to miss a chunk of the season, according to Hughes. Despite not even running until about a month before camp, Lawson started all 17 games and recorded his highest sack total since his rookie season.
  • Running back Breece Hall‘s rookie season was cut short after the second-round pick suffered a torn ACL in October. According to Costello, Hall claims that he will be ready for the start of next year.

Jets Activate Mekhi Becton, Carl Lawson, C.J. Uzomah From PUP List

JULY 26: Some good Jets news emerged Tuesday; Becton, Lawson and Uzomah are off the team’s active/PUP list in time for the start of veterans’ training camp workouts. While Lawson will be expected to anchor the team’s edge rush — a role his late-summer 2021 Achilles tear delayed — Becton has more to prove. The 2020 first-round pick has run into rampant health- and weight-related concerns. His coming off the PUP list so soon represents a nice development for the Jets, who are planning to slot him at either left or right tackle. Of course, Becton’s stock has dropped dramatically since his quality rookie season. That raises the stakes for his 2022 training camp.

JULY 21: The Jets placed five players on the physically unable to perform list today, including three offensive linemen. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter), offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, offensive tackle George Fant, defensive end Carl Lawson, tight end C.J. Uzomah, and guard Dru Samia all landed on PUP.

Becton and Fant are set to compete for the starting left tackle role, with the “loser” settling in at right tackle. However, at least to start camp, the two starting offensive tackles will be sidelined as they recover from knee injuries. Becton was limited to only one game in 2021 before suffering his injury, and since health- and conditioning-related concerns have dogged the early part of his NFL career, an early absence won’t help his case in the LT competition. Fant, meanwhile, started 15 games for the Jets last season before suffering a knee injury that ultimately required offseason surgery. If either of the two offensive tackles are forced to miss time, the Jets could turn to the likes of Connor McDermott, Chuma Edoga, and fourth-round rookie Max Mitchell.

Lawson joined the Jets last year on a three-year, $45MM pact, but a torn Achilles during preseason forced him to miss the entire campaign. Considering the Jets could easily move on from the defensive end following the 2022 season, this could end up being a make-or-break year when it comes to Lawson’s future in New York. Uzomah joined the Jets on a three-year deal this offseason after setting career-highs across the board in 2021 with the Bengals (49 receptions, 493 yards, five touchdowns). He’s currently dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Samia spent most of the 2021 season on the Jets practice squad. He’s seen time in 15 career games, including 13 appearances for the Vikings in 2020.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Latest On Jets’ Carl Lawson

The Jets were without one of their top free agent signings throughout the entire 2021 season, but it doesn’t appear that will be the case again this year. Carl Lawson has recovered from his torn Achilles and said today the he “expects to be back for training camp” (Twitter link via Connor Hughes of the Athletic). 

Lawson, who will be 27 by the start of the season, suffered the injury this past August. That ended what would have been his first year with New York before it even began. His arrival had led to optimism surrounding the team’s pass rush, given his production across four years in Cincinnati.

A fourth round pick of the Bengals in 2017, Lawson made an immediate impact in his rookie season. Despite starting only one of 16 games, he recorded 8.5 sacks. As his playing time increased year by year, he was never able to match that figure, but remained a consistent, disruptive presence on the team’s defensive front. With 20 total sacks to his name, and plenty of upside given his age, he signed a three-year, $45MM deal with the Jets last offseason. Due to the injury, though, the next regular season game he suits up for with New York will be his first.

“I’m going to be good to go, but it’s kind of up to the organization, how they want to play it, what they want me doing and stuff like that” Lawson said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk“I’ll be ready to go at any time on a moment’s call.”

When he makes his Jets debut, Lawson will join an edge group also featuring the recently re-signed John Franklin-Myers and 2022 first-rounder Jermaine Johnson. Much will be expected of that trio, as they look to contribute on what the Jets hope will be a much-improved defense this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/23/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. Teams have until 4pm ET/3pm CT Tuesday to reach the 80-man roster limit.

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts 

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: OT Jonathan Hubbard
  • Released from IR via injury settlement: Sam Renner

Tennessee Titans

Jets’ Carl Lawson Suffers Achilles Tear

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 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.

Jets’ Carl Lawson Carted Off Practice Field

Jets defensive end Carl Lawson was carted off of the practice field on Thursday morning with a leg injury. There’s no official word on Lawson’s condition yet, but it’s believed to be an Achilles issue (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo). 

Lawson felt a pop when he suffered the injury (Twitter link), a sign that he could be dealing with a serious Achilles tear. That’d be a brutal blow to the Jets, who are counting on Lawson to spearhead their new 4-3 scheme.

Lawson, a former fourth-round pick of the Bengals, delivered serious pressure to opposing quarterbacks last season. He notched a modest 5.5 sacks, but his 32 QB hits were bested only by T.J. Watt.

The Jets gladly scooped him up with a three-year, $45MM deal with a chance to make up to $47.4MM. The deal included a whopping $30MM guaranteed to fill the Jets’ longstanding edge rusher void. Previous efforts to land the likes of Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr fell short — the hope is that Lawson can kick off a new era for the Jets’ front seven.

Lawson has managed to bounce back from serious injuries in the past. Despite suffering a torn ACL in 2018, he’s still managed to put together an impressive resume over the last four seasons. The Jets are hoping for the best this time around, but they might need another lineman to join Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi up front.