3. C.J. Mosley, LB, NY Jets
The Jets, in 2019, signed linebacker C.J. Mosley to a massive five-year contract worth $85 million. $43 million of the deal was fully guaranteed.
Thus far, the return on the Jets’ investment after two seasons is Mosley playing just 114 snaps over two games in 2019. Last summer, Mosley opted out of the 2020 season, citing family health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mosley was signed in the same offseason that the Jets signed Le’Veon Bell. Both players were brought on board to be foundation pieces and leaders for the franchise.
The thing that Bell and Mosley also have in common is that current Jets GM Joe Douglas didn’t sign either player. The reality is that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mosley’s journey in green and white ends up at the same destination that Bell’s did.
The buzz going around the last couple of months is that Douglas and the Jets have been shopping C.J. Mosley in trade talks. The decision to potentially trade Mosley is not a surprising one. What’s more intriguing about the possibility is the timing.
From a salary cap perspective, the Jets don’t stand to benefit from trading Mosley now. The team would have to eat a lot of dead money to pull it off, and Mosley’s contract runs until through the 2024 season.
Finding a trade partner will not be easy. Even though Mosley is a great linebacker when healthy, the return will not match the quality of the player. Perhaps a third-round pick is the best that can be expected.
The issue is two-fold with the Jets or any potential suitor for Mosley’s services. Firstly, can he regain his prior form, now that he is 29, two years removed from being the player that was so coveted back in 2019? And lastly, how does Mosley fit in a team’s defense and salary structure?
For the Jets, carrying Mosley’s contract shouldn’t be a problem. The team is $25 million under the cap. The draft will eat up roughly $9 million of cap room, so the Jets’ will have plenty of leftover cap space.
The question with the Jets is fit. When Mosley was signed back in 2019, he was brought on because he was the ideal 3-4 inside linebacker.
That’s not to say that Mosley can’t operate in a 4-3 in the middle of the Jets’ new defense coordinated by Jeff Ulbrich, but the role required in the scheme is slightly different than the one Mosley is accustomed to playing.
The signs are out there that the Jets could be ready to move on from Mosley. For starters, the team signed middle linebacker Jarrad Davis away from the Detroit Lions to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million.
At the very same position that C.J. Mosley plays.
In theory, Davis can play on the outside, but it would break from his natural spot on defense. In a 4-3 scheme, it doesn’t make sense to have two highly paid starters at inside linebacker.
It’s also worth noting that Davis was the first player that the Jets targeted and signed in the legal tampering period. This suggests that he was a top priority and target for the Jets’ new defense.
There’s also a strong possibility that the Jets address the linebacker position in the draft with one of their top three or four picks. The scheme that the Jets are going to play defensively requires players who can cover a lot of space and stay on the field for all three downs.
It’s a lot different from the types of linebackers New York has targeted in the past for the 3-4. Robert Saleh, Jeff Ulbrich, and the Jets scouting department will be hard-pressed to unearth gems like Fred Warner or Deion Jones, but they are certainly in the market for one or more.
At one point, C.J. Mosley was expected to be the quarterback of the Jets defense for years to come. But that was also said once about the former quarterback of the offense, and he is now in Carolina.
Next: 2. Jamison Crowder