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Possible EDGE pivots for NY Jets after losing out on Clowney

Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell

The New York Jets need another edge defender

After losing out on Jadeveon Clowney, another need has come to the fore for the New York Jets: edge rusher. Bryce Huff and Carl Lawson vacated 582 snaps along the edge, and the Jets likely don’t have enough depth to cover those snaps. Unless the Jets plan to increase Will McDonald’s role in 2024 to the level that they did Jermaine Johnson’s in 2023, they will have snaps left over at the position.

The Jets may have made a mistake at the position earlier in free agency. While they targeted and nearly signed Shaquil Barrett, they were never linked to the rotational edge defenders on the market. Players such as Andrew Van Ginkel, Josh Uche, and A.J. Epenesa could have filled their need, especially if they plan to expand Will McDonald’s role.

The edge depth on the free agent market is thin now that Clowney signed with the Panthers. Still, it would be wise for the Jets to sign a free-agent edge defender to give themselves maximum flexibility in the draft.

Here are some of the Jets’ best options remaining, as well as a few players I believe they should stay away from.

Calais Campbell

The Jets targeted Calais Campbell last offseason, but he signed with Atlanta because he wanted the opportunity to play along the edge. Now, the Jets have a hole at edge, which is where Campbell could slide in. At 6-foot-8 and 282 pounds, he’s closer to a defensive tackle, but he fits a lot of the John Franklin-Myers mold: a far better pass rusher on the inside but a strong edge run defender.

Even at 37, Campbell could come in and give the Jets run defense support on the edge. He didn’t do much as a pass rusher there in 2023; according to NFL Next Gen Stats, he recorded a 9.6% pressure rate from there, ranking 57th out of 69 qualified edge rushers (min. 400 edge snaps). Still, he recorded an 80.2 Pro Football Focus run defense grade, ranking 8th out of 73 edge defenders (min. 175 run defense snaps).

Campbell can also slide to defensive tackle, as he did so on 233 snaps in 2023. He posted a much better pressure rate from there in a small sample size, ranking 4th with a 13.6% pressure rate.

Overall, Campbell could provide depth at two positions for the Jets and still be a valuable contributor.

Kyle Van Noy

To an extent, Clowney was suspect to me because his career year came with the Ravens. The same holds true for Kyle Van Noy’s strong numbers in 2023. He posted a 14.6% pressure rate, better than the 12.2% average for edge rushers and a career-best mark. He also recorded a career-high nine sacks.

Van Noy also isn’t a particularly good run defender. The Ravens played him on just 123 run defense snaps in 2023, and his 52.5 PFF grade in that area showed why. He had been somewhat more serviceable in the previous three seasons, posting a grade around 60 each time, but it’s not his strength. That may be in large part due to his 6-foot-3, 250-pound frame, making him somewhat of a smaller edge rusher.

Van Noy has played 3-4 outside linebacker for most of his career, but he could be a decent option for the Jets’ edge rotation.

Emmanuel Ogbah

The 30-year-old played a minimal role in Miami in 2023, seeing just 248 total snaps. Still, he posted a 13.1% pressure rate on 144 pass rush snaps. His 39.7 PFF run defense grade is alarming, but as a pure rotational piece, he’s not the worst option.

Stay away: the rest of the pack

Most of the other free-agent edge rushers available are players with name recognition but little production in recent seasons.

For example, Yannick Ngakoue always manages to cash in on his reputation as a rotational pass rusher, but his 8.3% pressure rate was far worse than the 12.2% positional average in 2023. Ngakoue has not exceeded a 12.2% pressure rate since 2018, and 2017 was his only season above 14% in his whole career. He’s also one of the worst run defenders in the league along the edge, posting PFF grades below 46.0 in each of the last four seasons.

Randy Gregory posted a cumulative 8.7% pressure rate in 2023. Jerry Hughes was at 10.9%. Bud Dupree was at 8.8%.

The pickings are slim for the Jets, but Campbell, in particular, could still be an impactful player for them.

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Charlie Winner
Charlie Winner
1 month ago

Will McDonald is a first round draft choice and should receive a heavy rotational work load at D-end. Or do we think that he is another 1st round mediocrity?

Remember, Douglas, outside of the Wilson/Gardner 1st round, hasn’t been really successful in that position. And overall, Joe hasn’t really drafted that well.

As for 2024, the draft and the slim pickings left in free agency will not significantly improve this roster. It takes more than Aaron Rodgers with a number of injuries waiting to happen across the board for this team to be better than, at best, 9-8.

1 month ago

So are we assuming at this point heading into Year 3 that Clemons is a bust?

1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Honestly, I’m done with Clemons. His pass rush “arsenal” is the bull rush, he takes God-awful penalties and his character/decision-making is questionable.
If someone will take him as a throw-in for added draft capital I’m all in.

christian herzeca
christian herzeca
1 month ago

nobody. jets have 4 DEs. need more OTs not DEs