What are the Jets plans for the edge rusher position?
By Justin Fried
After the New York Jets failed to sign veteran edge rusher Justin Houston, what are the team’s ultimate plans for the edge rusher position?
Another free agent target at a major position of need has escaped the grasps of the New York Jets, this time in the form of former Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Justin Houston.
The Jets were able to land some of the top names in free agency with their signings of Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley but failed to land a single edge rusher. The team had lined up a deal to acquire former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr but the arrangement fell through after Barr opted to return to Minnesota.
That left the Jets without a clear plan of attack at the edge rusher position and over a week and many failed free agent targets later, the team still sits in the same spot they were in when Barr initially spurned them. The recent failures beg the question on many fans’ minds:
What are the Jets doing at the edge rusher position?
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Currently, the Jets have only three edge rushers under contract, that being the incumbent Jordan Jenkins, the unproven Frankie Luvu, and special teamer Tarell Basham. The only one of those with starting experience is Jenkins, and even he was more of a replacement-caliber player up until his breakout seven-sack 2018 season.
Luvu, an undrafted rookie last season, spent the entirety of his rookie campaign as a situational pass rusher and special teams player. While the Washington State product did manage three sacks in limited playing time, there’s nothing that indicates he should be given substantial playing time in 2019.
That leaves the Jets with a glaring hole at edge rusher, and it, unfortunately, doesn’t seem like the Jets are rushing (pun intended) to fix the issue. After Barr’s sudden change of heart, the Jets reportedly made a strong push to acquire former Baltimore Ravens draft pick Za’Darius Smith but were ultimately outbid by the Green Bay Packers.
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Other potential options such as Trey Flowers, Preston Smith, and Shaquil Barrett all signed elsewhere as well leaving the Jets in quite the bind. Now that Houston has signed, the options appear very limited.
Two of the better options still available are the oft-injured Ezekiel Ansah and Denver Broncos draft bust Shane Ray, but neither presents too appealing of a case. Which means that the Jets best bet to address the position will be in this year’s NFL Draft.
While there are some great options to consider with the likes of Nick Bosa and Josh Allen falling on the top of most draft boards, it isn’t wise for the Jets to back themselves into a corner like this. The team has put themselves in a situation where they must draft an edge rusher early in the draft because of their failure to address the need in free agency.
The signing of Houston or any other mid-tier option wouldn’t have necessarily precluded the Jets from drafting the position early. Rather, it would have given the team a fallback option if other opportunities were to present themselves.
But now, the Jets are in a bit of a bind.
They can still address edge rusher in the draft, but at this point, they’re almost obligated to do so. It would have been nice to go into the draft with the luxury of freedom, but it doesn’t appear that that will be the case.
The Jets could still fill their need at edge rusher, only now they’re options are limited and their plans are more constricted.