The New York Jets have acquired defensive end Shaq Lawson from the Houston Texans in exchange for the 2022 sixth round pick they acquired from the San Francisco 49ers when they traded Jordan Willis last year. Lawson will provide much needed professional experience on the edge. A slew of injuries, including the season ending injury Carl Lawson suffered, has depleted the Jets’ depth there.
Shaq Lawson is a 27 year old, 6’ 3”, 267 pound defensive end out of Clemson. He was originally selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Lawson never quite developed into the pass rusher the Bills expected, but he has been a solid player on the edge. Physically Shaq Lawson is a near duplicate of Carl Lawson, with nearly identical numbers in the NFL combine drills.
Nobody expects Shaq Lawson to completely replace the production Carl Lawson was expected to provide, but Jets fans might be pleasantly surprised at what Shaq can do. Over the last three years Shaq pressured the quarterback on 4.75% of his snaps, compared to Carl’s 5.77% number. Shaq was better at getting sacks, with a 0.97% rate per snap compared to Carl’s 0.82% rate. Shaq was also a more productive tackler, with a tackle on 6.29% of snaps compared to a 4.65% tackle rate for Carl.
Shaq Lawson has $990,000 in guaranteed base salary and $500,000 in already earned incentive bonuses due in 2021 and a $1.49 million 2021 cap hit for the Jets. He also has $1.5 million in incentive bonuses tied to his sacks. If Lawson gets 8 sacks in 2021 he earns $750,000, and if he gets 12 sacks he earns another $750,000. The final year of his contract is in 2022, when he is due $8.9 million in non-guaranteed base salary and a $100,000 workout bonus for a $9 million cap hit. He can be cut or traded with zero dead cap in 2022.
Given the Jets’ rather dire need for somebody with an NFL pedigree on the edge, and the last minute nature of the need, this seems like an excellent move from Joe Douglas, with little risk or long term cap implications. The Jets defense just filled one big hole with a decent NFL edge rusher.