Jermaine Johnson II

Latest On Jets’ Efforts To Move Mecole Hardman, Carl Lawson

While defense has powered the Jets to their 3-3 place, the team has expendable veterans on offense it is trying to unload. Dalvin Cook and Mecole Hardman have come up as pieces the Jets are OK with moving, though traction on potential trades has proven elusive.

Cook has not been effective as a Jet, and Breece Hall has rocketed back to form after an October 2022 ACL tear. Cook remains in limbo, operating as an expensive backup, but Hardman does not have a role months after signing a one-year, $4MM deal. The Jets are aiming to trade Hardman, with a release also in the cards. This might come down to the wire, with the trade deadline still nearly two weeks away.

So far, Hardman is not generating much interest as a trade chip,’s Adam Caplan writes. Prior to Hardman becoming a Jet in March, he drew interest from the Browns, Raiders, Lions and Vikings. Although Hardman is only attached to a $1.1MM salary — of which an acquiring team would be responsible for barely half, with the season more than a third complete — his minimal production has likely led to the tepid market.

A 2019 second-round pick, Hardman totaled at least 530 receiving yards for the Chiefs each year from 2019-21. A core muscle injury sidelined Hardman for much of his contract year, leading to the $4MM payment this offseason. While the Georgia-produced speedster did not quite live up to expectations in Kansas City, he has barely played in New York. Hardman has one catch for six yards, playing behind Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb in an offense limited by Zach Wilson being needed to replace an injured Aaron Rodgers.

Due to the void years attached to Hardman’s contract for cap purposes, it would cost the Jets around $3MM to cut him. The ex-Chiefs gadget talent does reside as notable insurance, but his fifth season has skidded off track. The same can be said for Carl Lawson‘s seventh season. The Jets have gone from making Lawson a $15MM-per-year player in 2021 to demoting him to healthy-scratch status at points this season. Caplan confirms the Jets are trying to trade Lawson.

Although Lawson returned from the Achilles tear that ended his 2021 season before it began, the former Bengals cog has seen younger players surpass him on the Jets’ depth chart. The team used first-round picks on Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald in consecutive years, and Caplan adds Johnson’s early-offseason form prompted the Jets to ask Lawson for a pay cut. The former third-rounder accepted in May, but he has played only 73 defensive snaps this season. Johnson, John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff serve as Gang Green’s top edge rushers. Even as McDonald has not yet become a regular (58 snaps), 2022 fourth-rounder Micheal Clemons (136) has been called upon more often than Lawson.

Lawson, 28, is tied to a $6MM base salary. Due to including four void years in Lawson’s restructure, the Jets would eat more than $6MM by cutting Lawson this year. If/once Lawson does not re-sign in 2024, the Jets will be hit with a $6MM dead-money payment — should the veteran edge player remain on the team to finish this season. After notching seven sacks and 24 QB hits in 2022, Lawson is at 0-0 in those categories through six games. A backup in his rookie season, Johnson has two sacks and three pass deflections thus far in Year 2.

Formerly a sought-after free agent after the Bengals passed on franchise-tagging him, Lawson is submitting a contract-year no-show. He did produce impact years (from a pressure standpoint) in Cincinnati and previously moved the needle in New York. Lawson’s Achilles tear two summers ago led to the Jets cratering defensively in Robert Saleh‘s debut, which concluded with a last-place defense. Lawson helped the team make major strides last season, but the team is deep enough it no longer needs him. Injuries can change the equations for both Hardman and Lawson, but it will also be interesting to see if the Jets accept a low-end trade offer for either. In Lawson’s case, that would likely mean eating some of his salary — as the Broncos recently did to facilitate a Randy Gregory trade.

AFC East Notes: Bills, White, Moss, Patriots, Jets

The Bills are hoping Tre’Davious White can avoid a stint on the PUP list to begin the regular season. While speaking to reporters, GM Brandon Beane said the team is going to “run out the clock” when it comes to White’s roster spot in the hope that he’ll progress over the next week.

“We don’t have the final answer,” Beane said (via Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic on Twitter). “I can’t sit here and say, ‘He’s going to be here on this day.'”

The cornerback tore his ACL last November, and while reports have indicated that he’s progressing well in his return to the field, it’s still uncertain if he’ll be ready to go for Week 1. White landed on the PUP to start training camp, but the team will have to make an important decision on him as they reduce their roster to 53 players. If White is placed on PUP to begin the regular season, he’ll miss Buffalo’s first four games.

The former first-round pick has spent his entire career with the Bills, earning All-Pro nods in both 2019 and 2020. In 11 games last season, White collected 41 tackles, six passes defended, and one interception.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • To enter Bills camp, there was an expectation that free agent acquisition Jamison Crowder would battle with holdover Isaiah McKenzie for the starting slot receiver role. As Buscaglia writes, the team has given every indication that McKenzie has won that position battle, and Crowder’s training camp struggles may have put him on the roster bubble. Despite his assessment, Buscaglia later opined that the veteran’s experience will ultimately earn him a spot on the 53-man roster.
  • Elsewhere on offense, it sounds like the Bills are ready to roll with a RB committee. Buscaglia writes that both Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook could end up seeing extensive work outside of the red zone, while Zack Moss is expected to serve as the team’s goal-line running back. Moss has gotten an extensive look during the preseason, and while the writer hints that the coaching staff could be showcasing him for a trade, he also acknowledged that the team has been happy with the RB’s performance during training camp and preseason.
  • Before rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton went down with a shoulder injury, the Patriots were fielding offers on their receivers, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. However, it now “seems unlikely” that the Patriots would subtract from the grouping of Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, and Nelson Agholor. Meanwhile, the trio of Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kristian Wilkerson, and Tre Nixon are competing for limited roster spots, while Ty Montgomery‘s best chance of making the roster may be as a running back.
  • While cornerback Sauce Gardner and wideout Garrett Wilson are expected to play important roles for the Jets next season, their other first-round pick may see more of a complementary role. Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes that Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, and John Franklin-Myers are expected to start along the defensive line, meaning Jermaine Johnson will have to compete with Jacob Martin for the role of “situational rusher.” “However I can help the team win is honestly how I look at it,” Johnson said. “I practice like I’m a [undrafted] free agent anyway, so I don’t really care. It’s like I’m fighting for my life. That’s how I am, what I believe and how I practice — and it just lines up perfectly with what Coach Saleh is all about: Practicing hard, balls to the wall, giving 110 percent not only for yourself but for the team.”

Jets Sign Round 1 DE Jermaine Johnson

The Jets are doing the heavy lifting in their rookie deals first. After agreeing to terms with No. 4 overall pick Sauce Gardner, the Jets have signed the third of their first-rounders — Jermaine Johnson — to his four-year rookie contract.

Johnson, who can be controlled through 2026 via the fifth-year option, will be tied to a fully guaranteed deal. Projected to go off the board earlier than he did, at No. 26, the Florida State product will be tasked with boosting a Jets edge rush that has been one of the NFL’s least effective position groups over the past decade and change.

[RELATED: Jets, Gardner Agree To Rookie-Deal Terms]

Famously lacking an impact edge presence since the 2006 John Abraham trade, the Jets are now positioned to have Johnson and Carl Lawson. The latter is coming off a season-nullifying Achilles tear. He will now team with one of this draft’s best defensive end prospects.

Transferring from Georgia to Florida State last year, Johnson registered a career-high 11.5 sacks to go along with 17.5 tackles for loss last season. ESPN ranked Johnson as the No. 14 overall prospect, but he slid to the mid-20s, opening the door for the Jets to trade back into Round 1 for him. The Jets sent the Titans second-, third- and fifth-round picks to move up for Johnson, who will join Gardner in attempting to help a defense that ranked 32nd in both points and yardage in 2021.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Becton, Jets, White

In the research that led to the Bills’ new stadium deal in Buffalo, the team acknowledged that they looked at many cities that are “oft-mentioned in NFL circles,” according to Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News.

The Bills organization didn’t specify which cities they researched, but O’Shei’s report lists those often-discussed cities as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, and Louisville. International markets, such as Toronto or London, have also recently entered discussions.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple notes from Jersey:

  • In a post-Draft analysis of the Jets, ESPN’s Rich Cimini discussed the situation surrounding Jets tackle Mekhi Becton. Rumors before the draft were hinting that New York would use one of their two top-ten draft picks to add a tackle to assist them in moving on from Becton, but the Jets instead addressed the cornerback and receiver rooms. Head coach Robert Saleh initially claimed Becton would compete with George Fant for the blindside job, but hinted more recently that Becton may move to the right side of the line. Unfortunately for the Jets, they won’t have an opportunity to see how he fits over there until he reports, as Becton has decided to skip the team’s voluntary workouts. Cimini makes a great point that, since their insurance policy of Morgan Moses departed to Baltimore in free agency, it is crucial that Becton sees success at right tackle.
  • Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated also wrote an analysis of the NFL Draft with a section focusing on the Jets’ historic first round. Breer mentions how, after the Jets were able to land Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the top-ten, Saleh encouraged general manager Joe Douglas to go after Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II should he start to slide down the board. New York turned up the heat after the Eagles moved ahead of the Ravens and Johnson continued to fall, making phone calls to the Texans (at 15), the Commanders (at 16), and the Chargers (at 17). After talking to the Titans, who had moved up to 18 with the A.J. Brown-trade, Douglas knew Tennessee was going to select a wide receiver to fill their new A.J. Brown-shaped hole, but a discussion was made about a potential swap for the Titans’ other first-round pick at 26. Douglas had only one line in the sand: the Jets owned two early second-round picks, and he wanted to keep at least one of them, to eventually draft Iowa State running back Breece Hall. Johnson fell right into their laps at 26, and the Jets had their three Day 1-selections.
  • Unfortunately for the Patriots, Becton won’t be the only AFC East player missing voluntary workouts this month as veteran running back James White is still recovering from the hip injury that ended his 2022 season in a Week 3 loss to the Saints, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. White was quoted at the team’s draft party, saying, “I still have a little while to go (after) a pretty rough injury.” Reiss points out that this is a golden opportunity for running back J.J. Taylor to show he has what it takes to take over White’s role.

Draft Notes: Remaining QBs, Jets, Vikings, Burks, Johnson

One of the main storylines from last night’s first round was the fact that only one quarterback came off the board. The Steelers have their preferred choice in Kenny Pickett, but the other top options likely won’t have to wait long to hear their names called.

Jeff Howe of the Athletic reports (via Twitter) that “several teams” are trying to move up in the second round. As a result, there is “anticipation that a QB run could be on the way”. A number of teams could be interested in adding the likes of Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral as intriguing developmental options.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer names the Titans, Falcons, Seahawks and Commanders as teams to watch for. He reports that “Ridder’s name has been consistently connected to Tennessee”, who now holds the 35th overall pick. The other teams have done significant work on signal-callers as well. Perhaps eyeing a passer, the Seahawks have made “exploratory calls” about moving up tonight, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes looking back on last night:

  • The Jets, as it has been reported, were willing to part with the No. 10 pick for Deebo Samuel. They almost made a different deal with that selection, though, as detailed by ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). New York wanted to swap with Seattle for No. 9 to avoid a team leapfrogging them to select Garrett Wilson. Both teams were able to successfully stand pat, ultimately getting Charles Cross and Wilson, respectively.
  • Not long after the top-10 was complete, the Vikings ceded the 12th overall pick to the Lions. With their second first-rounder, Detroit selected Jameson Williams, who may have been the pick at that spot had Minnesota kept it. Breer reports that the Alabama receiver “was very much in play ” for the Vikings, who added Lewis Cine and two Day 2 picks as a result of the deal.
  • Another of the top receivers to be taken last night was Treylon Burks, whom the Titans selected as a replacement for A.J. BrownWhen speaking to Pat McAfee, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Arkansas alum “was the guy Aaron Rodgers wanted” (video link). With him off the board, the Packers extended their streak of not using a Round 1 pick on a wideout, but he reports that they are a candidate to trade up for one tonight (video link).
  • One of the most surprising fallers on Thursday night was pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Part of the reason he was still on the board for the Jets at No. 25, Breer notes, was poor interviews with teams in the pre-draft process. Thought by some as a top-10 pick, he ended up with the Jets anyway, and figures to serve as a notable boost to their pass rush.

Jets Acquire No. 26, Select Edge Jermaine Johnson II

The Jets are adding a third first-round selection to their squad. The Jets have acquired pick No. 26 from the Titans and will select FSU edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II.

Ultimately, New York acquired picks No. 26 and No. 101 from Tennessee. In exchange, the Jets will send the Titans picks No. 35, No. 69, and No. 163.

Johnson had an unexpected slide down the draft boards this evening. At one point, some pundits expected the FSU product to be a top-1o pick. Instead, the pass rusher reverted back to his original late-first-round draft stock, and the Jets took advantage of the opportunity.

Johnson II took a risk to play one year in Tallahassee, and he achieved the desired result. The red-shirt senior transferred from Georgia, where he enrolled as a JUCO prospect out of Independence Community College.In his lone season at Florida State, Johnson II led the ACC in tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (11.5), surpassing both of his career Georgia totals (eight tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks) in half the time. He spent a lot of time harassing ACC quarterbacks as he racked up 12 quarterback hurries and forced 2 fumbles.

The Jets had two selections earlier this evening, selecting Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner at No. 4 and Ohio State wideout Garrett Wilson at No. 10.

NFC Draft Notes: Giants, Lions, Falcons, Vikings, Eagles

We took a look at draft notes out of the AFC earlier this evening. In anticipation of Thursday’s draft, let’s pivot to the NFC:

  • The Giants are currently sitting with picks No. 5 and No. 7, but there’s a chance they move back in the first round. If they end up finding a trade partner, Dan Duggan of The Athletic believes the organization could be targeting Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum later in the first round. Staying in New York, Peter King of Football Morning in America writes that the Giants could select Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 7. Some recent reports indicated the Giants front office was down on the prospect, but King says the team has “done a ton of work on him since his Pro Day.” The Giants are also “extremely interested” in Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II and Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, per Aaron Wilson of
  • Speaking of Thibodeaux, there’s a chance the edge jumps all the way to No. 2. While King has the Lions selecting Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson with the second-overall pick, the reporter cautions that Detroit is “smitten” with the Oregon defender and could shake up the draft board by selecting him earlier than expected. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Todd McShay doesn’t see Thibodeaux falling pass the Falcons at No. 8.
  • Wrapping up King’s notes, the reporter writes that the Falcons like Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. King has Atlanta trading up to select the signal-caller at No. 32, but there’s a chance Corral ends up falling to them anyway at their current selection at No. 43. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much buzz connecting the Falcons to a quarterback at No. 8, according to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe.
  • The Vikings are eyeing cornerbacks at No. 12, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The reporter hints that a team outside of the top-12 could look to jump the Vikings in pursuit of one of the draft’s top cornerbacks.
  • McShay had a handful of notable tidbits about some NFC squads. The Seahawks are taking a “hard look” at Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis at No. 9, and the front office is also intrigued by LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.. Meanwhile, the Eagles “preference” at No. 15 could be Alabama wideout Jameson Williams, and there’s little chance the receiver falls past the Saints at No. 16. Albert Breer of shares a similar sentiment about the Eagles, with sources telling him that the Eagles are seeking a pass rusher.
  • Continuing in Philly, the Eagles may not end up even selecting at No. 15. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggests (on Twitter) that the Eagles could be a candidate to move up in the first round. The reporter suggests that the front office could be targeting a cornerback or edge rusher.

Latest On Jets’ First-Round Plans

An edge rusher-heavy 2022 class has seen Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux overshadow Jermaine Johnson. But the Florida State defensive end is gaining steam to come off the board earlier than expected.

Johnson is tracking toward being a top-10 lock, Jordan Raanan of tweets, noting some view the 254-pound defender as this class’ top pass rusher. Johnson seems to have the Jets’ attention, and they could make the move with the first of their two top-10 picks.

GM Joe Douglas is a fan, according to The Athletic’s Connor Hughes, who adds Johnson is a better bet to come off the board fourth overall than Kayvon Thibodeaux (Twitter link). Several around the league believe Johnson has the edge on Thibodeaux with the Jets, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler adds (via Twitter). The Jets had what is believed to be a good meeting with Thibodeaux recently, and the Oregon product appeared to be re-establishing some of the value he had lost during the pre-draft process. This latest round of reports, including one that pitted the coaches against the front office regarding Thibodeaux, would go against that.

Walker’s ex-teammate at Georgia, Johnson transferred to Florida State in 2021 and had his best season. Johnson registered 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss with the Seminoles.’s Daniel Jeremiah ranks Johnson ninth in this class; ESPN slots him 10th. Thibodeaux comes in ahead on both hierarchies, but attitude and effort concerns have dinged the former No. 1 overall prospect throughout the draft buildup.

If defensive end is not the direction Gang Green goes at No. 4, Ikem Ekwonu and Ahmad Gardner come into play. “Persistent buzz” points the Jets toward the North Carolina State offensive lineman,’s Albert Breer said during an appearance on The Score 1260 (Twitter link). The Jets think “extremely highly” of Ekwonu, Mike Garafolo of notes (video link). Ekwonu could slot at tackle or guard. For what it’s worth, no team has chosen a guard in the top four since the Cardinals took guard/tackle Leonard Davis second overall in 2001. Ekwonu would also serve as rather expensive, draft capital-wise, Mekhi Becton insurance.

Gardner-to-New York talk persists as well,’s Matt Miller tweets. Gardner was linked to the Jets weeks ago, but the Texans are a candidate to nab the Cincinnati prospect at 3. Houston doing that would seemingly put New York to an O-line-or-D-line decision. The Jets’ needs on the edge and at cornerback may outflank those on their O-line. They have drafted offensive linemen in the first round in each of the past two years, and the Jets’ defense ranked last in 2021. But the team using both of their top-1o picks on players who can help Zach Wilson, being linked closely to receivers at No. 10, would make sense as well.

FSU Pass Rusher Jermaine Johnson II Declares For NFL Draft

Jermaine Johnson II took a risk to play one year in Tallahassee, and he achieved the desired result as he announced his intention to enter the 2022 NFL Draft class last Thursday (Twitter). The red-shirt senior transferred from Georgia, where he enrolled as a JUCO prospect out of Independence Community College.

In two seasons as a Bulldog, Johnson II produced admirably, tallying 8.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. But he felt the best move for his career was just south of the Florida-Georgia line.

In his lone season at Florida State, Johnson II led the ACC in tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (11.5), surpassing both of his career Georgia totals in half the time. He spent a lot of time harassing ACC quarterbacks as he racked up 12 quarterback hurries and forced 2 fumbles.

He currently figures as a late first-round pick, but as someone who’s seen their stock rise significantly over the past year, Johnson II doesn’t come off as someone who will be comfortable settling for day one. Johnson II will have the opportunity to try to put his name in the conversation with top draft prospects Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, and George Karlaftis as the calendar turns to March at the 2022 NFL Combine.