FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – C.J. Mosley doesn’t feel he has anything to prove, but he does believe he has a lot to accomplish.
That’s Mosley’s approach as he returns to the Jets after opting out last season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former Pro Bowl linebacker knows he hasn’t lived up to his or anyone’s expectations after signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the Jets in 2019. He said he hears it from some Jets fans. Mosley’s goal in 2021 is to remind everyone he still can be a difference-maker.
"I would say there’s a little added chip just mainly because you always got your fans that’s going to heckle ," Mosley said Thursday after the Jets finished their first week of voluntary OTA workouts. "When I get back on the field, I definitely want to make sure they respect the name again.
"I understand you want your players to play. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to. They have the right to do that. I have to make sure I do my job. It’s all good."
Mosley has appeared in just two games since signing that big deal - a grand total of 114 snaps. He referred to it "as a two-year hiatus." A groin injury cut his first season with the Jets short and then he chose to make a family decision and not play football last season.
It weighed heavily on the 28-year-old Mosley, who said he spoke to numerous people, including old coaches and the Jets’ team psychologist on more than one occasion. It was the first time Mosley didn’t play football since he was 5.
Mosley already was frustrated and in a "funk" from his injury-riddled 2019 season, and he lost some of his "flame." But now he says he has the fire back, which can only be a good thing for the Jets.
"I’m ready to go," Mosley said. "With the injury from 2019, just that mental and emotional grind of trying to get back on the field and then I get hurt again and then COVID happens, it was like ‘Damn, what’s going on?’
"You want to be on the field. You want to be productive. You want to prove you came to the Jets to help this organization win and be one of the best players on the field and in the league. When you can’t do that it’s frustrating."
If Mosley can stay healthy, the Jets are adding a terrific playmaker to a defense that should be vastly improved under new head coach Robert Saleh. Mosley made four Pro Bowls in his first five seasons with the Ravens. He expects to return to that form.
"Yeah, I don’t have any doubts in myself," Mosley said. "[Rob Gronkowski] took two years off and won a Super Bowl. It is what it is. I’m here. We’ll just let the play do the talking."
Mosley, whose name came up in some trade rumors, is now expected to be a leader on this defense. Saleh is known for getting the most of out his players. He’s inheriting a hungry and motivated Mosley, so expectations are high already.
"He’s a very powerful mover. We can’t see tackling but you can see a lot of power in his movement," Saleh said. "He eats up a lot of a ground. He’s fluid. He’s smart. He’s savvy. He’s a tremendous gentleman. We’re really excited to get a chance to work with him."
The Jets are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, but Mosley said he can play in any system, and he’s looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish.
"The body feels great," Mosley said. "I’m happy. I’m mentally happy, physically happy, emotionally happy, all that stuff. I’m just happy to be back on the field.
"When you’re out for a while you always get in your head, ‘When I get back how is it going to feel, am I going to be able to move like I used to?’ After finishing this week, I feel great."