NY Jets DE Carl Lawson will not return in 2023 on his current contract

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

The NY Jets might be forced to make some difficult financial decisions this offseason, and one decision, in particular, regarding defensive end Carl Lawson could draw some ire from the fan base.

Lawson is set to carry a cap hit of $15.73 million in 2023, the third-highest cap hit on the roster behind C.J. Mosley and Laken Tomlinson. However, the Jets can very easily cut Lawson with almost no dead cap, saving over $15 million in cap space.

It's a decision the Jets will have to seriously ponder over the coming days and weeks. Whether Lawson is back in 2023 or not, one thing seems clear: he won't be on his current contract.

That was the sentiment shared by SNY's Connor Hughes who reported this week that Lawson "obviously won't be back with a [$15.73] million cap hit." This means the Jets will either outright release him or look to re-work his contract.

What are the NY Jets' options with Carl Lawson?

The simplest and most straightforward route the Jets could take is straight-up releasing Lawson. That would incur a dead cap penalty of just $333,333 while the Jets would save $15.4 million in cap space.

In the process, however, they'd be getting rid of their former star free-agent pickup who will now be two years removed from a torn Achilles he suffered in the summer of 2021.

The Jets believe that Lawson could return to his pre-injury form next season, especially given that it's miraculous he even played in 2022. Lawson didn't start fully running until a few weeks before training camp last summer.

As Hughes reports, the Jets love Lawson. They don't necessarily want to move on, but it's hard to justify bringing him back at his current cap hit, especially with the built-in flexibility in his contract.

So what else could the Jets do? They could release him with the hope of bringing him back on a cheaper deal. It's difficult to say what Lawson's free-agent market would look like, but it's hard to believe it'll pay him anywhere near $15 million per year given his injury history.

The last, and perhaps more appealing, option would be to extend Lawson, thus decreasing his 2023 cap hit. This scenario makes sense if the Jets are convinced that Lawson will return to full health next season.

They'd be banking on him staying healthy, committing more money to future seasons, while aiding their current financial situation. If the Jets truly want to keep Lawson, this is probably their best solution.

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Whatever they decide, however, it seems as though keeping him on his current contract isn't an option. The Jets will do something with Carl Lawson's contract this offseason, and his 2023 roster status is far from certain.