The NY Jets have been widely praised for their moves this past offseason, both with their free-agent additions and their 2021 NFL Draft class. That includes the big-money signing of defensive end Carl Lawson.
Lawson was the Jets' big free-agent signing of the offseason with the team forking over $45 million over three years for the former Cincinnati Bengals pass rusher.
That's a large sum of money, but Lawson was considered one of the best overall players on the open market. It wasn't a surprise to see him make as much as he did.
Despite this, some still consider the move a little risky. That was the sentiment shared by Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report who labeled the Lawson signing as the "riskiest move" made by the Jets this offseason.
Was the Carl Lawson signing the riskiest move the NY Jets made?
The notion came in a recent article published by Davenport detailing the riskiest move every team has made this offseason. And while he praised the way general manager Joe Douglas has handled things, he questioned whether the Lawson signing could end up being a mistake.
"It's possible that the Carl Lawson signing will turn out to be a success as well; Lawson is only just entering the prime of his career, and the 25-year-old tallied a career-high 32 quarterback hits with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020. But $30 million in guarantees is a lot of cabbage to give an edge-rusher who has never had nine sacks in a season and had just 5.5 a year ago. If Lawson doesn't start converting those near-misses to sacks fairly quickly, it won't take long for the New York media to turn on him."- Gary Davenport
Whenever you spend $45 million ($30 million in guarantees) on a free agent, there's always going to be a degree of risk involved. Such is the nature of spending big money in free agency.
And while it is true that Lawson "had just 5.5 sacks" a year ago, that might be underselling his impact. Lawson's 64 pressures ranked fourth among all edge defenders in the NFL.
He was a dominant force in Cincinnati's defense and single-handedly took over games at times. Ignore the sack numbers — he was one of the best pass rushers in football in 2020.
Perhaps the greatest risk comes with the inconsistency that Lawson has shown throughout his career. Following a standout rookie season, the former Auburn star missed more than half of his sophomore NFL season due to a torn ACL.
He returned in 2019 and had a down year before breaking out as a top-tier pass rusher this past season. The Jets are hoping that his production will match his 2020 play and that he'll continue his upward trajectory.
Was the Lawson signing a risk? Of course. Again, that's just the nature of free agency.
But Lawson was among the safer high-level free agents out there. He's young and coming off a highly productive season — one that the analytics insist should lead to future success.
The Jets have made plenty of risky signings in the past — Le'Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley, just to name a couple. The Carl Lawson deal isn't comparable to those.