As another lost New York Jets season unfolds, it’s time to evaluate this 53-man roster. This daily ranking continues with No. 17, defensive lineman Henry Anderson.
Former New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan made his greatest trade during the 2018 NFL Draft, swapping a seventh-rounder to the Indianapolis Colts for defensive end Henry Anderson who was coming off a scary in-game throat injury.
Anderson played all 16 games in his first green-and-white campaign, devastating opponents in Todd Bowles‘ 3-4 formations with a team-leading seven sacks, 35 combined tackles, and 16 QB hits, while playing 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
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Right before ‘Trader Mike’s’ May firing, the ex-GM’s spending splurge included bestowing a three-year, $25.2 million extension on this 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive lineman with a knack for injuries and a well-earned rep for cheap shots.
At this juncture, that move does not feel like the safest of bets.
Anderson, who in 2019 earned $17 million guaranteed as a part of his front-loaded deal, flashed occasional dominance. The athletic and explosive 300-pound lineman excelled against the run as part of an overall stout Jets defense.
But this season, Anderson’s stat line dipped dramatically under the reign of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — including an iffy 55.8 PFF rating with just 16 tackles and two sacks in 13 starts — all while dealing with nagging illness and shoulder concerns.
Anderson credits his success to plyometric training under Brett Bartholomew.
“When I started with him last year, I looked like s—. I wasn’t moving well. It took me all of last offseason to get to a point where I was moving pretty well. Then when I started with him this past offseason, I was moving pretty well and just continued to try to get better at some of the movement patterns we were working on.”
The good news for new Jets general manager Joe Douglas is that with last year’s $17 million off the board, Anderson is now due to earn just $8 million over the next two seasons — a reasonable salary for a defensive line depth piece for an ascending franchise.
Worst-case scenario, Anderson can be traded or even cut to make room for younger players.
Anderson has shown himself to be a solid pro, but suffice it to say that 2020 is a make or break season in terms of this nasty defensive end’s enduring NFL legacy.