After a relatively quiet start to the free-agency negotiation period for the Jets, general manager Joe Douglas went to work Monday night and filled some big needs.
The Jets reached agreements with defensive end Carl Lawson and wide receiver Corey Davis, league sources said. Their first deal of the day was with middle linebacker Jarrad Davis.
Edge rusher has been a glaring weakness for the Jets for years, and Lawson, 25, will be on the edge in new coach Robert Saleh’s defense. He reportedly will sign a three-year deal worth $45 million, with $30 million of it guaranteed.
A fourth-round pick of the Bengals in 2017, Lawson had 5.5 sacks last year. He finished second in the NFL with 32 quarterback hits and first with 27 quarterback knockdowns. In four seasons with Cincinnati, he had 20 sacks and 83 quarterback hits in 51 games.
Corey Davis was another big pickup for a team in desperate need of a receiver. The Jets landed one of the top targets on the free-agent market. They are giving Davis a three-year contract for $37.5 million, with $27 million guaranteed.
The Jets have been looking for a No. 1 receiver, and the 26-year-old Davis, the No. 5 overall pick in 2017, showed flashes of being a go-to receiver with Tennessee. He’s caught 207 passes for 2,851 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Davis is coming off his best season as a pro, with 65 catches for 984 yards and five scores.
He will join a receiver room that includes reliable Jamison Crowder and exciting second-year wideout Denzel Mims.
Who will throw them the football remains to be seen as the Jets are still deciding whether Sam Darnold will be their quarterback next season.
Douglas, who opened the day with a little more than $68 million to spend, still has plenty of work to do. He could add another defensive end, could address cornerback (another position of need) and also needs to upgrade the offensive line.
Douglas has put a premium on assembling a strong line to protect his quarterback — whoever that will be. The two biggest names in free agency are off the board, though.
Former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, in whom the Jets had serious interest, is headed to Kansas City on a five-year deal for $80 million. Former Packers center Corey Linsley will sign a five-year deal for $62.5 million with the Chargers.
While the Jets missed there, they added two big pieces for Saleh’s defense in Lawson and Jarrad Davis. Now there is uncertainty about middle linebacker C.J. Mosley’s future as a Jet.
He is set to return to the team after opting out last season because of COVID-19 concerns. But shortly after news broke that the Jets reached a one-year, $7 million deal with Davis, the NFL Network reported that they have received trade calls about Mosley.
He has appeared in only two games with the Jets after signing a five-year, $85 million contract in 2019. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens, is guaranteed $14 million over the next two years, but his cap hit in 2021 for a new team would be $6 million.
Former general manager Mike Maccagnan brought in Mosley in the same offseason that the Jets gave Le’Veon Bell a four-year, $52 million deal. The Jets waived Bell during the 2020 season.
If the Jets find a deal they like for Mosley, Davis could slide in and fill that role. If Mosley stays, Davis could play outside linebacker. A former first-round pick of the Lions in 2017, he is a good fit either way. The 6-1, 245-pound Davis started 45 of his 55 games with Detroit.
In his second season, Davis played 99% of the snaps and had 100 tackles and six sacks. He has 10.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in his career. He started only four of the 14 games he appeared in last year and played only 29% of the snaps. Some believe he wasn’t used properly in Detroit and that Saleh can get more out of him.