In the aftermath of the Leonard Williams selection, there have been plenty of suggestions that Muhammad Wilkerson is on his way out of town. I would like to make an alternate suggestion. I say the Jets should put Damon Harrison on the trade block.
Why is this? The way the Jets are constructed, Harrison might bring more value in a trade than he would on the team. Don't get me wrong. He is an excellent player. The Jets just do not really need his skillset with the team they have. Harrison is the prototypical two gap nose tackle to anchor a three man front. If you are playing a three man defensive line, having a nose tackle with the size and ability to take on the blocking assignments of two men is essential. With all of the investment in interior defensive line talent, the Jets do not really need that. This team should be playing plenty of four man lines. With all of the talent, it would behoove the Jets to get as many defensive lineman onto the field as possible at one time. That decreases Harrison's value.
Would Harrison still be effective on a four man line? Sure, but would the Jets be hurting if they played four man lines with two of the three out of Wilkerson, Williams, and Sheldon Richardson occupying defensive tackle spots? Not at all, and the interior pass rush would get a lot better also. Whichever of the three is not inside on a given play could play defensive end, and the Jets have Quinton Coples and Jason Babin to alternate at the other end spot.
Now you might argue Harrison is worth keeping for depth purposes. If it wasn't for his contract situation, I might agree with you. Harrison is set to become an unrestricted free agent in a year. Let's take the Jets at their word and say they still view Wilkerson as part of their plans. That means on the defensive line they will have paid big money to Wilkerson, have Coples on his fairly expensive fifth year option, and two other first round picks on the defensive line in Richardson and Williams. I get that depth is great, but the NFL is a league where teams have a finite number of resources. Does it really make sense investing starter money in Harrison under these circumstances, tying up substantial resources on a player who provides something the team could easily duplicate?
This is all contingent on the Jets being confident in their ability to lock up Wilkerson. If they are, I think Harrison is probably the odd man out. It makes sense to find a team desperate for help against the run and see whether the Jets can acquire another pick. Two years of high level play and a pick would be a nice return on an investment in an undrafted free agent.