4. Carl Lawson, DE, NY Jets
The Jets have yet to even see Carl Lawson play a single regular-season snap with the team just yet. The former Cincinnati Bengals standout missed his entire first season with the Jets after tearing his Achilles.
Lawson was the talk of the summer in 2021 and many were projecting him to have a monster season under the tutelage of new head coach Robert Saleh. Unfortunately, his Achilles tear prevented that from happening, and the Jets' defense really never recovered.
There's once again optimism that Lawson could return healthy and better than ever in 2022, and that's really where the focus should be with him. But an overlooked storyline is that he's essentially fighting for his Jets future this season.
The Jets signed Lawson to a hefty three-year, $45 million contract in March of 2021. The contract featured $30 million in guarantees, although the structure and layout of those guarantees are what's most important.
Lawson has roughly $333,000 remaining in guarantees after 2022, meaning that the Jets could theoretically cut him and save over $15 million with almost no dead cap hit.
Now, it would take a pretty significant development for the Jets to cut bait with Lawson after this season, but what happens if he misses significant time with an injury again?
The Jets have the flexibility to cut ties with him if they deem he's not worth the $15 million. They essentially have a team option on his contract after this year.
While it's flown somewhat under the radar, Carl Lawson is very much fighting for his Jets future this year.