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Where does Jets Lorenzo Mauldin stand in 2018?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27: Nate Solder #77 of the New England Patriots in action against Lorenzo Mauldin #55 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27: Nate Solder #77 of the New England Patriots in action against Lorenzo Mauldin #55 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Lorenzo Mauldin’s time with the New York Jets could be running out. Does he belong on the 2018 roster?

The New York Jets find themselves in an interesting situation regarding Lorenzo Mauldin‘s future. The 2015 third-round pick was a near lock to start on the edge for the second year in a row before injuring his back in training camp. Given the unit’s depth and the harsh reality of his underwhelming first two seasons, he may very well be on the 2018 roster bubble.

Mauldin posted a promising rookie campaign that led people to believe he was the long-awaited solution at outside linebacker. As a rotational guy behind the likes of Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples, the Louisville product finished with 17 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 15 games.

He played a total of 253 defensive snaps, which translated to 24.12 percent of Gang Green’s defensive plays. He additionally earned 101 special teams snaps.

Things went downhill in his sophomore season. He concluded with 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and an interception in 11 contests. This was all under a snap count of 354, a whopping 34.17 percent of New York’s defensive plays. He saw a mere six special teams snaps. The slight dip in production under a heavier workload was a bit strange, but not as concerning as his inability to stay on the field. His health is predominately why he’s in this current position.

Mauldin’s absences in 2016 and 2017 opened the door for Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, and Freddie Bishop. Jenkins has 90 tackles, 5.5 sacks, four pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles in 30 games. He earned 513 snaps in 2016 (49.52 percent) and 715 in 2017 (64.07 percent). On Pro Football Focus, the former Georgia Bulldog owned a 74.1 overall grade in 2016 and a 71.8 in 2017.

Martin and Bishop played a combined 645 special teams snaps in the last two years, although they accounted for 16.89 percent of defensive snaps in 2016 and 52.51 percent in 2017. Martin has compiled 58 tackles, two sacks and a pass deflection in his Jet career while Bishop has 19 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection. Bishop hits the market this spring, however, he can be retained on an exclusive-rights free agent tender.

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David Bass was another beneficiary of Mauldin’s injury. The journeyman edge rusher racked up 25 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 326 snaps after joining the team in the middle of September. He also received a 78.7 overall grade on PFF with a 74.2 in pass rushing and 81.6 in run defense.

Bass hadn’t made this big an impact for a defense since his 2015 season in Tennessee. Like Bishop, his contract expires in March.

Let’s not forget about rookie Dylan Donahue either. He was taken in the fifth round of last year’s draft and immediately caught the attention of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Donahue missed a majority of 2017 due to an elbow injury, but he saw 53 snaps in the four contests he dressed for.

The bottom line is that Mauldin faces an uphill battle in terms of cracking the 53-man roster. Should he be released, it’d save $723,000. If general manager Mike Maccagnan deems him to be behind the other edge rushers on the depth chart, he may not even make it to OTAs without getting the ax. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s indeed the case.

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