NY Jets: Top free agent edge rusher reportedly off the market

NY Jets (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets are expected to explore the edge rusher market this offseason, but one big name is reportedly expected to be unavailable after all.

The NY Jets have been searching for a standout edge rusher for well over a decade at this point and that search will likely extend into the 2020 offseason.

While the draft is always the best way to fill long-term needs, the 2020 NFL Draft class doesn’t seem too promising. Chase Young is the clear-cut top pass rusher, but it’s a steep drop-off after that.

The likes of K’Lavon Chaisson, A.J. Epenesa, and Yetur Gross-Matos are all vying for that second edge rusher spot, but none are too intriguing for the Jets. It’s more likely the team will look to address the offensive line or wide receiver in the first round.

And with the lack of depth in the edge rusher class, they may ignore the position entirely in the draft. That means that they’ll need to do everything they can to address the position through other needs — primarily in free agency.

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Unfortunately, one of the top names expected to hit free agency will reportedly not be on the market at all.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reported on Saturday that the Baltimore Ravens are expected to place the franchise tag on outside linebacker Matthew Judon thus removing his name from the projected free agents list.

Judon is fresh off a 9.5-sack season in which he started all 16 games for Baltimore’s stout defense. The 27-year-old has developed into one of the more unheralded pass rushers in the NFL totaling 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons.

Expectedly, the Ravens don’t want to just let him walk.

After losing Za’Darius Smith in free agency last season and seeing him have a career year in Green Bay, the Ravens could ill-afford to lose another talented edge rusher. The only dilemma was their current cap situation which is tight.

Judon’s tag will cost them about half of their remaining cap space and while there’s still talk they could look to trade him, the best bet is on them retaining him for at least another season.

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That’s bad news for a team like the Jets who would have had a lot of interest if he were to hit the open market.

Others such as Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, and Shaquil Barrett are also set to be free agents but their respective teams will still have time to either re-sign them long-term or hand out franchise tags — except for Clowney who is exempt from the tag.

If the Jets can’t land a top-tier option, others like Bud Dupree and Dante Fowler are each coming off career years and could be intriguing contingency plans.

Either way, the Ravens’ reported plan to franchise tag Judon is just the first domino to fall in what should be a very interesting offseason.

Next. NY Jets must prioritize the interior offensive line in free agency

And for the Jets, they’ll be hoping that as many players as possible hit the open market.