Reports have dictated that the New York Jets will be trading linebacker Avery Williamson to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft in exchange for a fifth-round choice that same year. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News first reported the transaction, while Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed it.
Williamson, 28, was in the midst of his third season with New York, joining the team on a three-year, $22.5 million contract signed during the 2018 offseason, which included $16 million guaranteed. He would later earn a team-best 120 tackles during his debut season, as well as six pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. In his most notable game in green, Williamson earned five tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception during the Jets’ 42-34 win over Indianapolis.
The middle season of that deal was cut drastically short due to injury, as Williamson was lost for the season after tearing his ACL during a preseason game in Atlanta. He returned to action this season, posting 59 tackles over seven games, including a team-best nine in their 35-9 loss to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. Williams previously earned another interception in another loss to Arizona back on October 11.
Being in the final year of his deal made Williamson prime trade bait with the league deadline approaching at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Jets have dealt with problems in the interior linebacker spots with Blake Cashman dealing with another injury, forcing Neville Hewitt and Harvey Langi to step up. According to Over The Cap, the trade of Williamson will save them just over $2.9 million in 2020 cap space. New York is now armed with nine picks in the 2022 draft, including two in the first (the extra coming from Seattle in the trade for Jamal Adams) and three in the sixth (with the incoming choices from Tampa Bay and San Francisco for Steve McLendon and Jordan Willis respectively).
The Jets (0-8) will return to action next Monday night against the New England Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
With preseason games eliminated this summer, strapping on the pads and donning the game jerseys for Week 1 in the NFL will feel just a little bit more special this time around. For some, the waiting will be a bit longer than others.
If linebacker Avery Williamson suits up for the New York Jets’ September 13 opener against Buffalo, it will have been 388 days since he suited up for an NFL game. Williamson had a decent first season with the Jets, leading the team with 120 tackles in 2018 after coming over from Tennessee on a three-year, $22.5 million deal. However, his second season was wiped out by a torn ACL sustained in last summer’s preseason visit to Atlanta. The injury cost him the entire 2019 campaign.
Williamson began training camp proceedings on the physically unable to perform list but was activated earlier this week. It’s safe to say that the veteran defender is aching to make up for lost time.
“It’s been a long journey, definitely,” Williamson said in camp this week, per SNY’s Garrett Stepien. “From that point, just didn’t know, didn’t realize the amount of work I was going to have to put in to get back to this point, to get back to my old self. I thought it was going to be a lot faster. I thought I was going to be running by December, but everybody’s different and I just wasn’t healing as fast as I thought I would.”
The 28-year-old was eager to test things out upon returning to the practice field. He admitted things got a little difficult, especially with his rehabilitation coming during on the ongoing health crisis. But he was quite enthused upon taking to the field at One Jets Drive.
“You’ve just got to get practice,” Williamson said in SNY’s report. “You’re going to find out real quick how good it’s doing and didn’t feel any pain today, pretty much did everything from a perspective of past and it’s feeling great. So just going out and keep getting in shape, at this point, but my knee’s healthy.”
Williamson went on to praise the job his fellow defenders did in his absence, as players like Jordan Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, and James Burgess all rose to the occasion. That will only increase the on-field competition, as players on the Jets battle for the opportunity to remain on the team for the potential good time ahead.
Entering a contract year, Williamson is one of many Jets who will be auditioning for a chance to solidify their future. He’s embracing every single opportunity but feels like things haven’t changed a bit when it comes to the way he’ll approach a most unusual, and personally vital, season.
“Yeah, I definitely feel like I’ve got to prove myself (but) that’s every year,” Williamson said. “It’s always going to be competition, guys trying to take your spot.
“The guys last year, they played well. Give them credit. They definitely played well. So I’ve just got to make sure I know the playbook, early, make sure that when I get my opportunity, I’m going to make it count.”
The New York Jets were forced to cancel a Saturday walk-through after a surge of COVID-19 tests that were revealed to be false positives.
The New York Jets were one of several NFL teams that had their training camp proceedings affected by a testing issue at a New Jersey BioReference lab the NFL has used for COVID-19 testing. New York was originally reported to have 10 positive tests, but these later came back as false positives, head coach Adam Gase explained on Sunday.
“We had just started our squad meeting. I was informed of it,” Gase said, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Everything happened really fast as far as what was being told to us. Our guys did a great job as far as getting in touch with the league office, following all the right protocols, making sure we were doing all the right things. Our guys, they jumped on it quick, as soon as we found out.”
The Jets were forced to shut down a walk-through, as well as their facility, on Saturday night but returned to summer action on Sunday. Overall, 11 teams were affected by the procedures. The NFL announced in a Sunday statement that they are working with BioReference to look over the process. Elsewhere in the state, a report from Kevin Seifert of ESPN indicated that the New York Giants were revealed to have no players test positive, but they were awaiting the results of support staff members.
Their 2020 season is still on pace to go on as scheduled, though questions remain over what will happen if positive tests are reported in the lead-up to games. Unlike other the procedures seen in the NHL, NBA, WNBA, and NWSL, the NFL is staging their season in home stadiums, outside of a bubble. Such concerns about the potential for positive tests by gameday were raised by Jets linebacker Avery Williamson after the weekend’s chaos.
“It’s kind of crazy, you know,” Williamson said in Costello’s report. “Just thinking like what if it happens before a game or something? This could happen to any team. It’s crazy. You don’t know what’s going on. There’s nothing you can really do. If somebody has it and you don’t know it and you’re practicing against them and stuff.”
“I just hope that we can stay as clean as possible. I hope that it stays just false positives.”
Players who test positive are subject to quarantine and must present two negative tests before returning to practice.
For these five New York Jets, 2020 could provide the ultimate football reward of longevity or set their careers into a tailspin.
If and when the 2020 NFL season commences, every single one of its participants will be dealing with at least a modicum of uncertainty. The feelings perhaps increase threefold if you’re the New York Jets, a team seeing to end a playoff drought that’s approaching a decade.
New York is one of several AFC squads looking to take advantage of expanded playoff capital. Topping the perennial division winners in New England will still be a challenge and the Buffalo Bills have set themselves up to steal the throne. The Jets will be inserted into a crowded conference playoff picture, one packed to the brim with established contenders and even more up-and-comers.
For these five individual cases, however, 2020 could be a year of their own personal playoff, one that could make or break their professional careers…
RB Le’veon Bell
The role of the modern NFL running back continues to be debated. Derrick Henry, the primary energizer behind the Tennessee Titans’ AFC title game trek, had to wait until the final hour to get a deal beyond his April franchise tag. One look at the league’s rushing leaders from as recent as 2017 should tell the story perfectly. Each of the top eight rushers from that season (including leader Kareem Hunt, who was released by Kansas City after a domestic violence incident) are no longer with the team they accomplished their marks with. That includes Bell and the 1,291 yards he tallied as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To Bell’s credit, he has openly acknowledged the disasters of 2019, which saw him fall to full-season career-lows in nearly all major rushing categories. Accompanying these acknowledgments are promises to return to his Pittsburgh form. Bell has also been a bit of a peacemaker in the Jamal Adams situation, being able to speak his mind while also providing Jets fans reassurances during a recent interview with Hot 97. It follows up a season where he dealt with trade rumors by repeatedly expressing his loyalty to green.
Soon it’ll be time to back these claims up on the field. The Jets spent a fortune on blocking this season, to help not one but two backfield saviors. Only adding to Bell’s New York plight is the fact that the Jets are set to save $9.5 million if they release him next offseason. 2020 could set Bell up for the rest of his career…for better or worse.
Perhaps under the radar because of Adams’ antics, Maye has shown flashes of strong potential. Pro Football Focus had him among the top 20 safeties last season, which served as a perfect reintroduction to football after Maye missed a good portion of 2018 with injuries. Added to Maye’s plate are looming contract negotiations. Whether it comes from the Jets or elsewhere, Maye can earn himself the big bucks with a strong outing, especially in a future free agent class that also includes Justin Simmons and Budda Baker.
WR Breshad Perriman
Almost every veteran receiver seems to have that one game in which they were untouchable. Who could forget Queens native Kevin Ogletree’s Wednesday night heroics for Dallas in the 2012 opener against the Giants or the sight of Kevin Curtis compiling 221 yards in those garish Philadelphia throwbacks? Stephone Paige is one of six players in NFL history to record 300 yards in a game…that occasion was one of only 12 times he reached triple digits in a 125-game NFL career.
Perriman was able to stretch his one shining moment into a month. The former first-round pick struggled to find a role in Baltimore but rose to the occasion for a woebegone Buccaneers team when Mike Evans missed the final portions of the season. He scored five touchdowns over the final four weeks of the season and broke triple digits in yardage in the latter trio. Brought in on one of many of Joe Douglas’ “prove-it” deals, Perriman will immediately face the challenges of a top receiver. If he succeeds in this role, his career can enjoy a Sammy Watkins-like second wind. The scary alternative potentially resides on the Jets roster in the form of Josh Doctson…a former first-round pick who will have to fight to keep his NFL dream alive in training camp.
LB Avery Williamson
A shortened, or outright canceled, preseason may hurt the Jets, but they can at least avoid scenarios like the one that saw them lose Williamson to a season-long injury during an exhibition visit to Atlanta. Despite sizable cap savings attached to his release, Williamson has been afforded a chance to win back his roster spot, despite the Jets adding Patrick Onwuasor in free agency and enjoying the ride of rookie backup Blake Cashman once Williamson was lost.
Having turned 28 in March, Williamson will not only be looking for a chance to prove he can return to form after a devastating injury but 2020 will also map out his future. If he struggles during his camp endeavors, the Jets could potentially be tantalized by $6.5 million in cap savings and reliable veteran depth in Neville Hewitt and James Burgess (each of whom was re-signed).
OL Brian Winters
Getting the vote of confidence from management often seems to spell doom for an incumbent coach, but the concept seems to hold more water when it comes to a player. Winters is the longest-tenured Jet on the roster (joining the team as a third-round pick out of Kent State in 2013) and, like Harrison, is one of the few offensive leftovers from Darnold’s arrival. Many thought the corresponding $7 million in cap space would lead to Winters’ release this offseason, but general manager Joe Douglas dispelled the notion.
“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters,” Douglas said in February, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’ve heard a lot of optimism and positives about his rehab. So again, seeing him around the locker room, you know, it’s always good to see Brian. He’s got a big smile on his face and he’s an outstanding Jet.”
Those words appear to have afforded Winters, who turned 29 two weeks ago, another green opportunity. The ball’s now in his court in terms of taking advantage of it.
The New York Jets‘ linebacker group was riddled with injuries last season. Newly acquired C.J. Mosley suffered a groin injury in Week 1 that kept him out much of the season. Avery Williamson missed the entire season after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Those two injuries, while not decimating the entire group, had a huge impact on the group and defense as a whole.
What a healthy C.J. Mosley can do
People may have forgotten, but when Mosley was in the game Week 1 against Buffalo last season, he was playing great football. He had 6 total tackles, 2 passes defended, a fumble recovery and a pick-six. He accumulated those numbers while playing only 70% of the defensive snaps. When he went out, the feel of the defense drastically changed, at least to a certain viewer.
Even if Mosley isn’t at the exact level of production he was at with Baltimore a few seasons ago, he can still be dominant, as shown in the game mentioned above. While with the Ravens, he was selected to four Pro Bowls in five seasons. Across those five seasons, he amassed 579 total tackles, 9 interceptions and 8.5 sacks. Those are great numbers for most players and positions, including linebacker.
A healthy C.J. Mosley can easily get 100 tackles, a few interceptions and sacks, plus other impact plays the stats may not show. Aside from the stats, Mosley adds an established Pro Bowl centerpiece to Gregg Williams’ defense.
What a healthy Avery Williamson can do
After spending the first four years of his career in Tennessee, Williamson’s first season as a Jet in 2018 was the best of his career. He had a career-high in tackles with 120 and also had a career-high in passes defended with 6. He also was a major anchor in the middle of the defense.
Williamson is somewhat of an underrated player in conversations about top linebackers. Of course, he has not been to a Pro Bowl so that argues against him, but he is a strong number two alongside Mosley, to say the least. He is a good tackler with great sideline-to-sideline movement and ability.
If words aren’t enough, the stats should do the trick. On the flip side of the 120 tackles, he had just 5 missed tackles. That means he made the tackle 96% of the time. If you compare that to the great season that Bobby Wagner had for the Seahawks last season, the numbers are similar. Wagner, who is widely considered the best linebacker in football, had 159 tackles and 10 missed tackles. That means he made the tackles 94% of the time, slightly lower than Williamson.
While Avery Williamson may not be a star linebacker, he is a good player who can help make a duo with C.J. Mosley one of the best in the league.
With Mosley and Williamson holding down middle linebacker most of the time, outside linebacker will mostly be held down by one player: Jordan Jenkins. As of right now, Jenkins seems to be the only lock for the 53-man roster at this position.
Jenkins has played all four years of his career with the Jets. However, he has never started all 16 games in a season. He started 13 games last season and had just 32 total tackles, the lowest of his career. However, he improved greatly in other areas. He had 13 quarterback hits and career-highs in both sacks and tackles-for-loss, with 8 and 9 respectively. So, while he doesn’t rack up a large number of tackles, he gets a lot of action behind the line of scrimmage.
While Mosley and Williamson try to shut down the middle of the field, Jordan Jenkins can provide a nice amount of pressure behind the line.
With Jenkins missing some time last season with a calf injury, Mosley missing time with a groin injury and Williamson tearing his ACL, the group was never at full strength. If they can all stay healthy, the linebacker group can be among the best in the league.
With a couple of sure tacklers and some decent pass rush, the rest of the defense could be under less pressure. With a relatively unproven cornerback group and uneasiness at safety with Jamal Adams at the moment, linebacker can be the one group that holds down everyone else on defense for the New York Jets.
These positional battles will be especially crucial for the New York Jets to figure out, especially with a potential lack of preseason games.
If the NFL has its way, the New York Jets and their gridiron brethren are making their way to summer camp.
While several notable players have voiced concerns, the league has nonetheless put out a plan that would commence training camp on July 28. Jets proceedings would take place at One Jets Drive in Florham Park, which would be hosting its sixth summer tune-up. The number of preseason games remains a point of contention among the league and the players’ association, thought the Jets’ exhibition opener on August 13 against the Giants has yet to be officially canceled.
But with a shortened slate almost all but assured, training camp takes on greater importance. Games may be the primary source of fans watching depth chart and roster battles, but camp exploits are going to be more important than ever, especially for a team looking for chemistry and coherence.
Where will the most intriguing battles be? ESM investigates…
Right: Chuma Edoga/Brian Winters/Greg Van Roten/George Fant
Left: Alex Lewis/Cameron Clark
Protecting Sam Darnold’s blindside was one of the biggest offseason priorities. The Jets came through via the selection of Louisville’s Mekhi Becton at 11th overall in April’s draft. But big questions remain on the other side.
The veteran Winters, the longest-tenured green player on the New York roster, will probably be fighting for a roster spot. His release is accompanied by cap savings of over $7 million, but management seemed more than happy to give the guard another chance.
“(He’s) a guy that just battled, battled his tail off all year after injuring his shoulder in the preseason and fighting through,” general manager Joe Douglas said in February, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters.”
Winters’ journey to maintain his role in the starting lineup faces a major challenge with the arrival of Chaminade High School alum Van Roten, who served as Cam Newton’s security in Carolina over the last three seasons. The arrivals of Van Roten, who can also play tackle, and Fant also raise some heat on Edoga, who was thrust into a starting role due to injuries last season.
Even with the arrival of the dominant Becton, Darnold’s blindside isn’t fully safe. Becton seems set on the outside, but there are major reservations on the interior. Alex Lewis (pictured) may be the name currently penciled in on the depth chart, but he has (understandably) shown some concerns about partaking in the season and could be an opt-out if and when we get to that point. It could be a chance for day three choice Cameron Clark, the pride of the Charlotte 49ers, to work his way into the starting five.
The Jets have been placed in a fortuitous, yet responsibility-laden position where they have not one but two backfield saviors in the forms of Darnold and Le’veon Bell. They’ve started the long arduous process with the drafting of Becton and spending their offseason money on experienced veterans. But as this logjam on the line shows that their work is far from over.
Primary Spell RB
Frank Gore vs. La’Mical Perine
Bell has vowed to right the wrongs of 2019. Reliable rushing assistance will help him attain that goal and help has been obtained from opposite ends of the football experience spectrum.
Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery were not retained, their roles filled by the rookie Perine (pictured) and Gore, who’s anything but. Even in his advanced age, Gore has proven himself useful while playing AFC East bingo. His 4.1 average over the past two seasons with Buffalo and Miami would not only be highest on the Jets last season but also ranks in the top 20 amongst running backs with at least 300 carries over the last two seasons. Gore also has the advantage of working in an Adam Gase system during his 2018 exploits with the Dolphins.
The Jets, however, also have plans for Perine, their fourth-round pick out of Florida.
“We all like his skill set. He’s one of those guys that’s able to do all three phases that you look for a running back to do: be able to run the football, be able to be involved in the passing game, be able to protect,” Gase said of the former Gator, per Demetrius Harvey of Sports Illustrated. “I think we are getting a guy, too, that is very hungry, that is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He obviously was surprised that he lasted to the pick he lasted, and anytime that we can get guys that are coming in like that, that’s a good thing for us.”
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for both Gore and Perine on the team. But it’ll be interesting to see which one gets more opportunities if and when training camp commences.
Avery Williamson/Blake Cashman/Patrick Onwuasor
A shortened or eliminated preseason might wind up helping the Jets in the sense that they would avoid situations like that of Avery Williamson’s last season. The veteran suffered a torn ACL in an exhibition in Atlanta and wound up missing the entire 2019 season. Cashman, a fourth-round pick out of Minnesota, filled in very well in Williamson’s absence before suffering a season-ending injury himself. Further depth came in the form of ex-Baltimore Raven Onwuasor while Neville Hewitt and James Burgess were also re-signed.
Releasing Williamson would’ve saved the Jets $4.5 million in cap, but he was nonetheless retained for another go at it. Whatever work the Jets get in this summer will be absolutely vital for Williamson, currently at the top of the depth chart in one of the Jets’ deepest position groups. If Williamson has made one thing clear this offseason, it’s that he’s not going down without a fight.
“I definitely want to go in being a leader on the defense and just knowing that I’m going to make plays,” Williamson said to Olivia Landis in a video on the team’s official site. “That’s what I did my first year with the Jets and I’m ready to continue that. Once we get back as a group, just going out in camp and proving myself again and showing them that I still have that same fire and the same ability to make those big plays.”
Sam Ficken vs. Brett Maher
When you’re a team that struggles to consistently enter the end zone, a good kicker is a must. The Jets have attempted 63 field goals over the last two seasons (tied for seventh-most in the NFL). That issue was easy to tolerate with Pro Bowler Jason Myers at the boot, but the team went through four different kickers after he left for Seattle. Ficken was retained after being the last of these legs, while Maher was added from Dallas shortly after season’s end. Their percentages were at the literal bottom of the league’s qualified rankings.
Ficken (70.4 percent) was nonetheless retained, his case perhaps helped by a pair of ten-point games in December victories over Miami and Pittsburgh. Maher (66 percent) is perhaps the most notable Jekyll and Hyde case in recent NFL memory, offsetting 60-yard gems with 30-yard flops (sometimes in the same game, like the Cowboys’ October loss to the Jets in East Rutherford). Having a reliable kicker will be vital, creating a safety blanket for a growing offense.
The New York Jets have signed ILB Patrick Onwuasor. Onwuasor has started 31 games in the past three years for the Baltimore Ravens. Onwuasor was seemingly the man who would take over for C.J. Mosley when he joined us last offseason. After playing 14 games and only starting 6, it was apparent that Onwuasor is better suited as a situational linebacker. Now he joins the New York Jets and will fit right into Gregg Williams’s defense.
How does he fit?
Onwuasor is a unique inside linebacker. He’s good against the run but a very below average coverage guy. He shines when he blitzes. Last season he had 3.0 sacks, 5 TFLs, and 6 QB Hits. He is a very good situational guy. Where Hewitt, Burgess, and Cashman can be depth pieces to fill in for Willamson and Mosley if they go down again, Onwuasor can be used in a multitude of scenarios.
Onwuasor can provide an inside pass rush, and that ability is something the Jets could use. Jordan Jenkins and Jamal Adams were their lead pass rushers last year. Jamal is a phenomenal player, so he often takes up double teams when he blitzes. Now Onwuasor can come in, in those situations, and capitalize off those double teams with a stable inside pass rush that could see him produce solid numbers. He is definitely a unique signing, but he will likely be a guy Gregg Williams has a lot of fun with this upcoming season.
What’s Next For Defense?
The Jets still need to improve their edge rush. Although they resigned Jordan Jenkins and will likely pick at least one edge rusher, the spot still could use a few more guys. Vinny Curry is a guy the Jets have targeted to bring a situational edge presence. The Jets could also still target Jadeveon Clowney, but it seems unlikely.
As for inside linebacker, the Jets are now loaded with talent. Mosley is the number one guy, Willamson is a talented number two. Burgess and Hewitt showed flashes of real production last year, and Cashman was a solid special teamer. With that said, Williamson would save the Jets some money if he was cut or traded, although he’s a fan favorite, with so much depth at inside linebacker, you have to wonder if his days are numbered.
I’m not going to lie this one hurts, real bad. This game and this season were things Jets fans went into with loft expectations. Just like they always do, the Jets can’t be perfect. There was a lot of good and bad in this game. Ultimately though, the New York Jets blew many opportunities to win this game and the Bills walked away with a 17-16 win.
Le’Veon Bell Is The Focal Point Of The Offense
Everything went through Le’Veon Bell, the questions about rust were dispelled. The Jets gave him reps early and often. He had 17 carries for 60 yards and 6 receptions for 32 yards and a score. He showed off his patience and big-play ability that made him a superstar in the first place and he showed that he wasn’t missing a beat. The problem was, it was almost as though Adam Gase was too reliant on Bell. He didn’t mix match Ty Montgomery in there which is something that can throw defenses off. The ball was not spread around it was just continuously fed to Bell. Bell is a superstar but Gase needs to spread the ball around to see some more offensive success.
Jamison Crowder Was A Safety Net
Jamison Crowder was a slightly underrated acquisition by the Jets. He never really has fulfilled his potential due in part to injuries. Crowder and Sam Darnold have built up really good timing and seem to be working well. Crowder was able to bail Darnold out and be a scapegoat of sorts. However he was almost fed the ball to much, he had 14 receptions for 99 yards. Crowder played great but the Jets really need to spread the ball around more.
Kicking Woes Continue For Gang Green
Kaare Vedvik was a mess right from warm-ups. He was inconsistent and as the game began it was apparent. After a big pick 6 by C.J. Mosley, Vedvik missed the extra point then despite a bad hold, Vedvik missed a field goal by a country mile. Vedvik isn’t the answer and the Jets will continue to search because the kicking heavily contributed to this loss.
Mosley Shines, Hewitt Impresses
C.J. Mosley finished today’s game with 5 tackles, 2 PDs, 1 FR, 1 INT, and a TD. He lit it up and began to prove the New York Jets made a really wise investment. Then when he was out with his groin issue (something to watch), the team seemingly fell apart. Mosley was a huge part of the success today and shined big time. Neville Hewitt, in replacement of Avery Willamson, shined as well. Hewitt had an INT, 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and a PD. He had a solid day and raised some eyebrows of many.
This section will be short. Any time a team has 4 forced turnovers and a 16-0 lead. It should be bigger and at the very least have been a win. The football Gods seemingly gave the Jets every shot to win and they couldn’t.
Browns Are Next
This one stung, I’ll dive more in-depth throughout the week but now it’s Cleveland Browns week. The Browns played even worse than the New York Jets and both sides have a lot to prove. It’s gonna be a hell of a battle and the Jets will need to bounce back.
Avery Willamson was an integral part of the New York Jets defense last season and was projected to be a huge piece to this season. His influence was turned upside down due to a torn ACL.
Willamson, a leader, and a star will undoubtedly be tough to replace. What will the Jets do now to supplement his loss? Who can fill in for a vital piece of the defense? Three answers immediately come to mind, and all three can be suitable substitutes.
Will Blake Cashman Emerge?
Cashman was drafted by the old regime in this past draft and is likely to be a critical special teams asset. Instead, he earned favor within the coaching staff and immediately shot up the depth chart. He stood out in practice and then received first-team reps as training camp came to a close.
The only question on why he won’t be the next option to fill in for Avery is his injury. Cashman sat out against the Falcons and could miss more time. If he’s healthy, the rookie could be thrown into the deep end and whether he sinks or swims remains to be seen.
Let’s hope he can swim.
Can Frankie Luvu Continue To Shine?
Luvu was one of the handful of Jets who showed flashes towards the end of the season last year. He finished his rookie year with 22 tackles, 2 TFLs, and 3.0 sacks. He proved his worth and will be in a position to see a multitude of success as a rotational guy. Now with Willamson injured his role projects to expand. Luvu flies to the ball and is an absolute gamer.
The second-year of a player’s career is very telling of the success one can enjoy. Luvu will have a little more pressure with the Willamson injury, but he’ll finally get an expanded role and a more significant opportunity for success.
Neville Hewitt is Under The Radar
An undrafted free agent in 2015, he has reinvigorated what could’ve been a lost career. Hewitt was a tackling machine for the Dolphins totaling up 89 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an INT. Then last season, he had 39 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He played an excellent rotational role for the Jets last year and earned another year with the squad. Now, this training camp he’s opened eyes and has been a pleasant surprise. Now he gets an opportunity in place of the unfortunate circumstances. What will he do with his shot remains to be seen.
The Darron Lee trade could prove to be a costly mistake if nobody steps up. However, with three young and feisty linebackers looking to make a name for themselves, the Jets may not miss Lee. Ultimately, nobody can be the leader and crucial piece in both the locker room and on the gridiron that Avery Willamson is. Avery, you’ll be sorely missed, but now it’s next man up.
How will C.J. Mosely influence the New York Jets defense in 2019?
C.J. Mosley was always a guy I admired from afar. Then even this past offseason when the Ravens let him walk it seemed destined he would be back in a Raven uniform but ultimately he made the best long term decision and joined the Jets. Mosley has consistently been a top 5 linebacker in the NFL over the past few years.
Now, how will he fit in with Gang Green?
The 4-time pro bowler has been a dominant and reliable leader for the Baltimore Ravens defense since being drafted in 2014. Since then, Mosley has only missed 3 games and has had 4 out of 5 years with over 100+ tackles.
Mosley can be a threat in coverage as well but overall can be the kind of player to cover sideline to sideline and be a tackling machine. He’s ideally going to join Jamal Adams and work as the two captains of the Jets defense.
As for the linebacking core as a whole, some questioned the addition of Mosley initially having seen the success of Darron Lee and Avery Willamson, but when Lee was suspended for the remainder of the season for PEDs it became apparent that his lackluster performance in the past wouldn’t cut it anymore so the Jets added Mosley and traded Lee.
The Jets now have a phenomenal duo up the middle in Mosley and Willamson. They have some edge-rushing and outside linebacker depth in Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Copeland and Jachai Polite.
They have undrafted standout Frankie Luvu, veteran Neville Hewitt and rookie Blake Cashman. The Jets have good depth with high potential and with Mosley leading the charge, not only did the Jets upgrade with him as their new lead linebacker they also gained a leader who will be essential to the Jets success.