3 NY Jets who are still playing for something in Week 18

NY Jets, Carl Lawson
NY Jets, Carl Lawson / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For a lot of fans, the NY Jets season came to a devastating end last week in a very lopsided loss to the Seattle Seahawks. However, for the rest of the world, there is still football left to play with one final contest — a divisional matchup with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Dolphins are now in a do-or-die situation like the Jets were in the last two weeks (they died both times), and will have to make it work with third-string QB Skylar Thompson again after injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.

So will they play the spoilers, just as the 2015 Buffalo Bills did to them in Week 17? Or will these once-promising 6-3 Jets finish out the year with a whopping six consecutive losses?

While that all gets sorted out, let's look at three Jets who probably will be playing their heart out this week regardless of the game script. There are several Jets who individually have something to play for this week, but here are the top three.

3. Carl Lawson, DE, NY Jets

The most expensive free agent of the Joe Douglas era, Carl Lawson has had a fairly polarizing level of production with the Jets so far. He looked like an absolute steal worth every penny in 2021 training camp before tragically tearing his Achilles in the preseason, robbing us of any chance to see him play in green and white that season.

This year, he's played in every game, and while some have appreciated his output, others haven't been as convinced. No player on the entire team has a higher cap hit this year than Lawson, but he hasn't quite put himself into the best player on the team conversation — so is he overpaid?

By cutting ties with him this offseason, the Jets can save $15.3 million in cap space, a significant chunk of change for a team that needs to improve their roster and doesn't have the luxury of extra draft picks or a bunch of cap space this year.

A good game here would go a long way toward showing the coaching staff what he brings to the table and perhaps give them reasons to refrain from cutting him.

His seven sacks this year are the second-highest of his young career, and mind you, this year is his first since that debilitating injury. It's very reasonable to assume he will be even better next year.

Putting next year aside, he also gets a $600,000 bonus in his contract for hitting eight sacks this season. So you can bet he will be doing everything in his power to get that one more sack he needs and count those extra dollars in his bank account. A nice parting gift, if this is indeed his last game with the Jets.

2. Garrett Wilson, WR, NY Jets

In a season that will probably be more remembered for collapse than early success, Garrett Wilson is one of the true gems. He is now the Jets' all-time rookie leader in catches and receiving yards but is in a five-way tie for fourth all-time for rookie touchdowns (4).

So far he has only scored touchdowns in pairs, and his first time was with this week's starting QB Joe Flacco, so maybe he gets a pair this week and climbs up to second all-time on the rookie touchdown list to further cement his claim to the greatest rookie wide receiver season in New York Jets history.

By doing this, he also would increase the lead on most yards ever by a Jets rookie receiver. He has far surpassed Keyshawn Johnson's 864, but how much higher will he go? Will he set the rookie record at 1,100+ yards? He only needs 86+ yards to do so, which is a number he has surpassed six times already this season.

On a national level, he had been the NFL's leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year for the last several weeks until the Jets' offense combined for nine points in their last two games. As a result, he has been leapfrogged by Kenneth Walker, but a spectacular game this Sunday could put him right back at the front of the race.

86+ yards and two touchdowns would be tough to argue against — Garrett Wilson needs another special performance to be the first Jets player to ever win this prestigious award.

In addition to what it would mean to the franchise, earning this award would solidify his status as a nationally-respected star who impacts the opposing defenses' game plans. Can he do it?

1. Quinnen Williams, DT, NY Jets

As soon as a high draft pick's fifth-year option is picked up, the discussions begin to swirl about a contract extension. Eight months have passed without any updates on Quinnen Williams' contract status, but there has been a tremendous update on his value as a player and team leader.

He is having a career year and has arguably had the best season of any player on the team. He was nominated to be a Pro Bowl starter for the first time this year and may very well end up with All-Pro honors when it's all said and done.

Getting voted as a Pro Bowl alternate as opposed to a starter last year cost Williams over $600,000 in bonuses, but reaching All-Pro status this year would have a huge impact on his future contract negotiations.

This upcoming game is one more opportunity to add to his already gaudy sack numbers and add a few more tackles for loss for extra measure.

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Maybe that's what it'll take to give him the edge in a tight race amongst the top defensive tackles in football and give him that extra leverage to get millions of more dollars from whoever is willing to sign him long-term if that person isn't Joe Douglas.