Fifth-year defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi's rookie contract with the NY Jets is about to expire, meaning the team has a decision to make.
Fatukasi, a former sixth-round pick out of UConn by then-GM Mike Maccagnan in 2018, has cemented himself as a key piece on the Jets' defensive line over the previous four seasons.
Fatukasi's ability to stuff the run, while also having the skills to offer as a pass-rusher, has helped Fatukasi stick around for all four years of his rookie deal.
Recently, the Jets have not had much luck with their later-round picks, in that, many of them don't see past their rookie contract in New York. It's important for the team, especially with new leadership under head coach Robert Saleh, to establish a culture that enables players to earn a second contract here in the Big Apple.
With the Jets having a total of 19 unrestricted free-agents set to hit the open market come mid-March, it would be wise for the team to begin negotiations with the players that they would like to have back.
We're hoping one of those players figures to be Fatukasi, whom the team should want to bring back in the fold to create some consistency on the defensive line.
Why the NY Jets should re-sign Folorunso Fatukasi
During Foley Fatukasi's time with the Jets, the team has dealt with constant struggles on defense. Between injuries, inconsistent play and coaching changes, there has been no room for any continuity.
Fatukasi isn't a culprit here, as he's been able to consistently perform at a moderately high level and, most importantly, stay healthy.
Fatukasi isn't one to fill the stat sheet each and every Sunday, and he doesn't need to. The 26-year-old, who appeared and started in 15 games for the Jets and played a career-high 558 snaps in 2021, finished with 46 tackles, five tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits.
These stats aren't eye-opening by any means, and these numbers alone don't warrant a contract extension. But, looking more deeply, Fatukasi's ability to stop the run hasn't gone unnoticed, nor has his leadership.
Fatukasi's impact has not only come on the field as his leadership in the locker room adds to the list of reasons why it would be wise to consider re-signing him. Joe Douglas has made it clear that he values the "trenches".
The offensive and defensive lines are Douglas' specialty, and he's stated that he will continue adding to these positions regardless of who is already in place.
It would be one less hole to fill if Douglas were to bring back Fatukasi, while also retaining a player that is as important to the locker room as one can possibly be.
"As of right now, we don't know what the future may hold," Fatukasi said on January 10th during his end-of-season media availability.
The future is approaching quickly, and decision time isn't too far off for the Jets and Fatukasi's representatives to work out a potential deal to keep Folorunso Fatukasi in the green and white long-term.