June 21, 2024

The New York Jets have a long-term focal point in Quinnen Williams, but they still need guys on the interior defensive line. The three veteran defensive tackles who are available as free agents who made an impact in 2023 may be signed by the Jets again, or none at all. Given their salary cap-friendly contracts, Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas should be able to make a comeback, but Al Woods—who turns 37 on March 25 and is recovering from an Achilles rupture—doesn’t seem to be in the mix for the future. The Jets will probably decide to re-adopt at least Jefferson or Thomas in order to maintain continuity.

Williams has already committed a substantial sum of money to the role, so affordable choices like Thomas and Jefferson make sense. Spotrac claims that while Thomas was on a $2.35 million one-year contract, Jefferson was signed for a contract worth $3.6 million in 2023. Among NFL team leaders, the Jets’ defense (292.3) placed third, and both players demonstrated good value. In 2023, Jefferson made 14 starts in lieu of Sheldon Rankins, who signed a free agent contract to join the Houston Texans. 34 tackles and a career-high 6.0 sacks were totaled by him. When Jefferson was placed on injured reserve in late December, he had not missed a game in almost four full seasons. Jefferson turns 31 on March 31.

Thomas, who is regarded as a person of excellent moral character, was involved in Saleh’s system during their time as 49ers. This past fall, the Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee—who has been in all 34 games since joining the Jets—broke a career high with five sacks.

The Buffalo Bills‘ free agency defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, who made $7 million last season, is an upgrade that the Jets might pursue if they feel comfortable spending more money on a defensive tackle.

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