The New York Jets should dip into a deep pool of free-agent defensive tackles
The New York Jets run defense struggled greatly last season. They gave up 138.3 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 29th in the league.
With Folorunso Fatukasi set to reach free agency, the Jets have some big shoes to fill on the defensive line if they do not retain their homegrown run-stuffer.
This free-agent defensive tackle class has multiple quality options for the Jets to consider.
D.J. Jones, San Francisco 49ers
D.J. Jones is coming off a career year and will play this upcoming season at 27 years old, his sixth season in the league. His fit in New York is seamless with his experience under Robert Saleh and playing his entire five-year career in the defensive scheme the Jets run.
In terms of production, Jones had a career-best in terms of tackles for loss in 2021 with 10. Per ESPN Analytics, Jones had the league’s highest run stop win rate percentage (48%).
Related Article: Why D.J. Jones is the perfect fit to replace Foley Fatukasi
Tim Settle, Washington Commanders
With very limited playing time (1,005 career snaps in four years) on a talented defensive line, Tim Settle proved good things when he had opportunities.
In 2020, Settle attained success rushing the quarterback as he recorded five sacks and seven quarterback hits. In terms of stopping the run, Settle has nine tackles for loss over the past two seasons while playing only 557 snaps over that span.
Schematically, Settle has played in a 4-3 front which would make him a fit with the Jets.
Settle is a young player who will turn 25 in July. He’s only missed two games in his career.
With a greater role, it is fair to expect more growth from Settle.
B.J. Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
In the second and third years of his career, B.J. Hill struggled to make much of an impact with the Giants. It led to a trade to the Bengals shortly before the start of last season.
In 2021, Hill had his best season totaling 5.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits.
Hill will turn 27 in April and should continue to build on last year’s success. He did play in a 4-3 defensive front last year with the Bengals. Adding Hill as he likely enters his prime years would be a great move for the Jets.
Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bills
Harrison Phillips spent his first four NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Last season, he was healthy for the first time since his rookie year, playing 14 games after appearing in just 15 over the previous two years combined.
Phillips played his best football in 2021, finishing with career-bests in tackles with 51 and quarterback hits with six.
Phillips has been in a 4-3 his entire career. He will play this season at 26 years old and should keep improving if he can stay healthy.
Justin Jones, Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Jones is a talented defensive tackle who started 35 games over the last three seasons. In 2021, Jones was successful with career-bests of three sacks, five quarterback hits, and 37 tackles in only 11 games.
A young player who will turn 26 in August, Jones is a quality option for the Jets on the free-agent defensive tackle market.
Sebastian Joseph-Day, Los Angeles Rams
Sebastian Joseph-Day started 38 games for the Rams over the last three seasons, providing quality production each year. He collected 99 tackles over 32 games from 2019-20. In 2021, Joseph-Day had 38 tackles and a career-high three sacks in just seven games.
Joseph-Day will turn 27 later this month. A fellow member of the Rams’ 2018 draft class alongside current Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers, Joseph-Day would provide a sizable boost to the Jets’ run defense.