The NY Jets‘ revamped defensive line is looking scarier by the day. And after the reported addition of former first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, it looks like one of the strongest units in the league on paper.
As first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Jets have signed Rankins to a two-year contract worth up to $17 million providing further depth to an already-stacked defensive line.
Rankins will join the likes of Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fautkasi, John Franklin-Myers, and the newly-signed Carl Lawson to give the Jets one of the more feared front-fours on paper.
The Jets’ defensive line was already one of the deepest position groups on the team. And now with the addition of Rankins, it has the potential to be something special.
Sheldon Rankins provides further pass-rush help for the NY Jets
Rankins was the 12th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and the New Orleans Saints expected him to make an immediate impact on defense. Unfortunately, a broken fibula suffered in training camp kept him sidelined for the first half of the season.
He returned and actually flashed quite a bit recording four sacks in just nine games. That was enough to earn him a starting role the following season.
Rankins started all 16 games and tallied a career-high nine QB hits, but he only finished with two sacks. Still, he remained in the starting lineup and put together a breakout 2018 campaign.
The former Louisville star finished with a whopping eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 15 QB hits in 16 games and recorded a career-best 78.8 Pro Football Focus grade that ranked 24th among all interior defensive linemen.
He was one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the NFL and it looked like he was on the verge of stardom. Unfortunately, injuries would catch up with him again.
An ankle injury limited Rankins to just 10 games in 2019 before a knee injury cut his 2020 season short by four games. His production suffered as a result, and he clearly wasn’t playing at 100 percent in either season.
But the last time we saw a fully-healthy Sheldon Rankins, he was among the best interior rushers in football.
The Saints wanted to bring Rankins back, but their cap situation made it impossible. And according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Cincinnati Bengals also made a “hard run” at Rankins, but the Jets just beat them out.
New head coach Robert Saleh thrived in San Francisco due in part to a stacked defensive line. He’s looking to recreate that success with the Jets.
And the addition of Rankins is just another step in that direction.