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NFL Draft

3 Trade Candidates For Jets To Replace Carl Lawson

  • The Draft Network
  • August 25, 2021
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For every highlight of NFL training camps and preseason games, there are lowlights. You’ve got your bad incompletions and missed blocks, and you’ve got your hyped player not performing up to par. The worst of all preseason lowlights though, are injuries. 

The New York Jets’ loss of edge rusher Carl Lawson to an Achilles rupture was a brutal way to begin their preseason. Lawson joined New York as a free agent in March after four years with the Cincinnati Bengals, over which he amassed 20 sacks, 81 combined tackles, and 19 tackles for loss. He was one of last season’s best edge rushers at disrupting the offense, with a disruption rate of 15.2% that just barely trailed that of 2020’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald (15.5%).

To add insult to injury, he was also having a terrific start to training camp, getting credit for multiple sacks and tackles for a loss in practice. New Jets head coach Robert Saleh said he was “relentless with his body” and “relentless with his work ethic.” The buzz surrounding Lawson and his potential grew each day. Then suddenly, he’s out for the season.

Since the injury, there have been reports that New York is looking to make a trade to fill the Lawson-sized hole on the D-line. Who might the Jets be scouting as a potential trade target?

Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

One of the pricier options for the Jets is Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals. Given how big of a loss Lawson is, it would make sense for New York to invest in another terrific edge rusher like Jones to replace him. Jones especially makes sense as a trade target, given reports that he requested a trade in late July.

Of his nine years in the NFL, Jones has had 10-plus sacks in six of them, along with three Pro Bowl appearances and two First-Team All-Pro selections. Last year was the first in his career that Jones didn’t record more than six sacks, and that was only because he missed most of the season following a right biceps tear.

Jones would be an incredible replacement––and… dare I say… upgrade?––for New York’s edge rush, but there are at least a couple of reasons the Jets may be wary. First and foremost, his injury trouble. Jones missed 11 games after surgery to repair his bicep, and he’s already been held back from training camp practices and preseason games with another undisclosed injury.

This leads me to the second reason, price. The Jets don’t expect to contend for a playoff spot, at least not this year. As unhappy as Jones may be in Arizona, he’s good, and the Cardinals will expect a big return if they agree to trade him. Does New York really want to sell many of their future draft picks for an injury risk only under contract for this year?

Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles

Jets GM Joe Douglas drafted Derek Barnett in the first round in 2017 during his time as the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, so a reunion here would make a lot of sense. He’s also been just about as productive as Lawson on the stat sheet. Over his four-year career, he’s recorded 19.5 sacks, 101 combined tackles, and 29 tackles for loss. He’s also had more starter experience than Lawson has on the edge.

Barnett is also just 25 years old, which makes him younger than Lawson, 26, and Jones, 31. This gives the Jets a chance to hold onto Barnett and sign him to a long-term deal should he prove himself in New York this season. A lack of a contract beyond this year also lowers Barnett’s trade value, meaning the Jets would likely not have to overpay with picks.

Clelin Ferrell, Las Vegas Raiders

After the Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in 2019, he hasn’t quite lived up to all that Las Vegas has hoped for. He’s been outshined by fellow 2019 draftee Maxx Crosby in his first two years with the team, with the latter accounting for 17 sacks and 30 tackles for a loss compared to Ferrell’s 6.5 and 11, respectively, in that time.

The former ACC Defensive Player of the Year has the potential to break out after his first couple of disappointing years with the Raiders. If Las Vegas doesn’t want to wait for it––he’ll likely play behind Crosby and newcomer Yannick Ngakoue to start the year––the Jets could be the right change of scenery for Ferrell. He wouldn't cost the Jets much draft stock, and since they don’t expect to win now, he’ll have time to develop.

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