Veteran Defensive End Jets’ Next Cut Candidate?

Starting left guard Laken Tomlinson became the New York Jets’ first salary cap casualty of the offseason, and he likely won’t be the last.

“I had a good conversation with Laken on Monday. It just felt like it was the right move for us moving forward,” said Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas on Wednesday at the NFL Combine. “Ultimately, what we felt was in the best interest of our team, financially.”

With free agency kicking off in fewer than two weeks, the Jets have a modest amount of salary cap space —approximately $20.7 million according to Over The Cap— and will likely need to clear more room in order to pursue top-tier options along with re-signing some of their own players set to hit the open market. The capability of reaching a deal with edge rusher Bryce Huff, who is poised to earn $10-15 million annually, most likely requires a corresponding cap-motivated move.

When it comes to potential cut candidates, a case can be made for veteran defensive end John Franklin-Myers. According to Spotrac, the Jets can create $7 million in cap space by releasing the 27-year-old, who carries $9.05 million in dead money.

“The more I think about this the odd man out would seem to be JFM if they keep Huff. Whether thats on a lower cost deal or just a release I feel like he is the one that might be in danger,” said Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald in a recent Twitter thread.

Jets' DE John Franklin-Myers (91) sacks Chargers' QB Justin Herbert (10)

Jets’ DE John Franklin-Myers (91) sacks Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert (10)
© Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Although reliable to the tune of 50 consecutive starts, Franklin-Myers played a lower percentage of third-down snaps and finished with 3.5 sacks in 2023. The Jets’ depth at the position adds appeal to the idea of parting ways with Franklin-Myers.

In his second season as a pro, Jermaine Johnson emerged as a productive starter. The 2022 first-round draft pick totaled 7.5 sacks and seven passes defensed over 17 starts en-route to a Pro Bowl selection. Johnson led New York’s edge rusher rotation with 687 defensive snaps followed by Franklin-Myers (465). Huff logged 354 snaps while 2022 fourth-rounder Micheal Clemons earned 335 reps, most of which came on first and second downs.

Meanwhile, 2023 first-round pick Will McDonald played fewer than 20 percent of the team’s defensive snaps as a rookie. Releasing Franklin-Myers would free up reps for the No. 15 overall selection in last year’s draft.

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