Carl Lawson has found a new home with the New York Jets, bringing them some desperately needed help at edge rusher.
The New York Jets have made a huge move to improve their pass rush in free agency, signing Carl Lawson to a three-year contract.
Lawson joins the Jets from the Cincinnati Bengals, signing a $45 million deal worth up to $47.4 million with $30 million guaranteed, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
His singing follows that of wide receiver Corey Davis, who earlier reportedly agreed to a three-year, $37.5 million deal as the Jets begin a new era under head coach Robert Saleh.
He will be the lead outside pass rusher on a defense that has for so long lacked a threatening option at that spot. Only seven teams had a worse pressure rate in 2020 than the Jets’ 21.7 percent, according to Pro Football Reference.
On the surface, Lawson’s numbers are not impressive. He had only 5.5 sacks in 2020 for a bad Bengals defense and has not improved on his career-high of 8.5 that he set in his rookie season in 2017.
However, Lawson has done a consistently excellent job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. He racked up 44 pressures last year, per PFR, a tally that was topped by just three players — T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa and Aaron Donald.
The onus will be on him to turn those pressures into sacks, but Lawson’s task should be made easier by playing on a defensive line including former third overall pick Quinnen Williams, who greatly improved down the stretch for the Jets in 2020.
Williams had 20 pressures last year, 14 of which were quarterback hits, and racked up a career-high seven sacks.
Pairing Lawson and Williams on the Jets’ defensive front under a coach in Saleh who has proven he can maximize the talent at his disposal is a recipe for a successful pass rush. The Jets’ defense showed signs of life in the final weeks of the season, Lawson’s arrival should make the group much more a force in 2021.