The Jets recently had former Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi in for a visit that lasted two days, you don’t have someone in for a two day visit unless there is serious interest, so what would the DT bring to the Jets if he were to sign?
Nobody expected this to be a possibility when Larry signed with the Chicago Bears on the first day of free agency on a 3-year $40.5 million deal. But following a failed medical that deal was torn to pieces and Ogunjobi returned to the free-agent pool, two months have passed since then and a follow-up deal has failed to materialize.
Ogunjobi suffered a foot injury in the Bengals wild card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, he had season-ending surgery and it’s believed this is the reason for his failed medical. Why the Bears offered over $20 million guaranteed to someone so quickly after a serious surgery is a little unclear, but all signs point to him making a full recovery.
The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, not only did he miss out on the Bengals run to the Super Bowl, but he was also having a career year in a contract year. He finished his 2021 season with 49 tackles, 8 sacks, 41 total pressures, 16 QB hits, and 12 tackles for loss. He offered consistent internal pass-rush from the 3-tech position and while PFF gave him a 38.9 run defense grade, I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate having watched a fair amount of Bengal football.
You can’t give all the credit to Larry, but the Bengals run defense was 29th in the league in 2020, and following the signing of Ogunjobi they jumped 24 places to the 5th best defense in the league. You don’t make 12 tackles for a loss and play on the defensive line of the 5th best run defense in the league if you’re horrendous against the run. His run tackling stop % was basically the same as D.J Reader who PFF gave a 77.2 run defense rating to, so while I enjoy the PFF stats, a lot of them are flawed.
The simple fact is that Larry would only need to be an average run defender for him to be an improvement on what we saw from the Jets last season. The expectation is that John Franklin Myers and Quinnen Williams will spend a lot of time at DT with Sheldon Rankins, Solomon Thomas, and 2nd-year player Jonathan Marshall. We know that Saleh likes to rotate his lineman but that does create a fair bit of traffic in the interior.
The Jets could decide to sign Ogunjobi and cut ties with Sheldon Rankins. Ogunjobi is a significantly better pass-rusher from the interior and even though he was rated poorly by PFF for his run defense, he was still rated higher than Rankins. If the Jets do cut Rankins before June 1st they’ll save $5.4 million on the cap with just $750k of dead money. That would be a way to open up snaps for Ogunjobi and free up cap space to use on the signing. If you were to ask most fans who they’d prefer to see line up for the Jets in 2022, Sheldon Rankins or Larry Ogunjobi, I imagine the majority would go with the latter.
A defensive line that consisted of defensive ends Carl Lawson/Jermaine Johnson/Vinny Curry/Micheal Clemons/Bryce Huff/Jacob Martin and defensive tackles Quinenn Williams/John Franklin-Myers/Larry Ogunjobi/Jonathan Marshall/Solomon Thomas looks pretty good to me.