The Jets and their defense took another big hit on Saturday.
Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley opted out of the 2020 season due to family health concerns, a league source said. Mosley, 28, is the latest NFL player to sit out this season due to concerns from the coronavirus pandemic, and one of the biggest names. The growing list includes Nate Solder, Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Damien Williams
This is a huge loss for the Jets, who one week ago exactly, traded disgruntled All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to Seattle for two-first-round picks, a third-rounder and veteran safety Bradley McDougald. The Jets were excited about getting the accomplished Mosley back after an injury-riddled 2019 season and having him lead Gregg Williams’ defense.
That was the plan last season, but Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker with Baltimore, only appeared in two games with the Jets because of a groin injury that ultimately required surgery.
Mosley had an impressive Jets debut after signing a five-year, $85 million contract. He intercepted a pass that he returned for a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and had six tackles before exiting the game in the third quarter with the injury. Mosley appeared in just one more game and was clearly hampered.
He had surgery in December and said in June that he was “cleared to do everything.” The normally durable Mosley, who missed just three games in five seasons with Baltimore, sounded raring to go and focused on becoming one of the most impactful linebackers again. But that will have to wait until next season now.
Mosley has yet to make any public statements about his decision to opt out, and the Jets didn’t comment either.
This, of course, puts a strain on the Jets’ defense that just traded it best player. Mosley is a terrific playmaker and leader that the Jets were counting on this year. But Williams, reputedly one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, will adjust and put players in position to succeed. That’s what happened last year after Mosley got hurt.
The Jets already were without starting inside linebacker Avery Williamson, who tore his ACL late in a preseason game. But Williams did a tremendous job of filling the holes and developing other players.
Neville Hewitt, James Burgess and Blake Cashman stepped in at inside linebacker and produced for the Jets last season. They are all returning. Burgess led the Jets in tackles and Hewitt was tied with Adams for second for a unit that ranked second in run defense and seventh in total defense.
Williamson should be returning from his injury that sidelined him all of 2019. If healthy, Williamson likely will take over the defensive play-calling duties after a torn ACL that cost him all of 2019. Williamson was the Jets' leading tackler in 2018.
He was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list on Thursday. But Williamson can be moved to the active roster at any time before the start of the regular season.
They Jets also signed former Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor this offseason. Onwuasor replaced Mosley for Baltimore last season.
As for Mosley’s contract, it will “toll,” based on the agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, which means he still will have four years remaining when he returns next season. It will run through 2024, instead of 2023.
The Jets also will get some salary-cap flexibility this year and next. Mosley was paid a $10 million roster bonus for this year. His $6 million base salary and $1.5 million pro-rated signing bonus shouldn’t count against the cap. Next year, Mosley only will count for about $7.5 million instead of $17.5 million as his roster bonus already has been paid.
Mosley is the second Jet who has opted out of the season, joining offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi.
THEY WON'T PLAY
Notable NFL players who have opted out of the 2020 season:
Jets: LB C.J. Mosley, OL Leo Koloamatangi
Giants: LT Nate Solder
Buffalo: NT Star Lotulelei
Chicago: NT Eddie Goldman
Dallas: CB Maurice Canady, WR Stephen Guidry
Denver: DT Kyle Peko
Green Bay: WR Devin Funchess
Houston: DT Eddie Vanderdoes
Minnesota: DT Michael Pierce
New England: LB Dont'a Hightower, OT Marcus Cannon, RB Brandon Bolden, FB Danny Vitale, OL Najee Toran, S Patrick Chung, WR Marqise Lee
New Orleans: TE Cole Wick
Philadelphia: WR Marquise Goodwin
Seattle: OG Chance Warmack
Tennessee: OL Anthony McKinney
Washington: DE Caleb Brantley
SOURCE: Yahoo Sports