The New York Jets had hoped that veteran defensive end Vinny Curry could provide some situational help as a pass rusher this season, in addition to the big push up front they expected to get from coveted free-agent signee Carl Lawson.
Lawson, of course, went down with a torn Achilles’ during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers last week. And now Curry also will miss the entire 2021 season.
Curry, 33, a starter with the 2017 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, revealed Wednesday on Instagram and Twitter that he has a rare blood disorder that necessitated the removal of his spleen. It originally was projected, he wrote, that he would be able to return to action by mid-September, but complications in the form of blood clots forced him to be prescribed blood thinners that will prohibit him from participating in a physical-contact sport for three to six months.
Thus, he will miss the season. Curry’s one-year contract was for a fully-guaranteed $1.075 million, per overthecap.com. Lawson, signed through 2023, has a deal worth $30 million in guaranteed money.
Jets coach Robert Saleh said, “It’s blessed that we were able to find some things that were going unnoticed. … He’s been so productive in his career. (We’ll miss) his leadership, first and foremost, and his overall energy and positivity that he brings. It hurts, but (it) just gives somebody else an opportunity to step in.”
But who will be that somebody else? Another veteran signee the Jets were counting on at defensive end is former San Francisco 49er Ronnie Blair, whose cap figure is $850,000 with no fully guaranteed money, but he has had trouble staying healthy. Blair, who has 13.5 career sacks in four seasons, suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason win over the Packers on Saturday and hasn’t practiced this week.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported before the Curry news that New York general manager Joe Douglas was exploring the trade market for an edge rusher. But as coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday, “It’s always easy, right, to play the fictional game of let’s go get somebody. But the reality is there’s very far and few in between in terms of just what’s available. Now, obviously Joe (Douglas) and his staff are working relentlessly, always trying to look at the roster and always communicating.”
For now, the Jets’ projected starters at defensive end are a pair of youngsters, Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers, both promising, but both still unproven.
The question Douglas and the Jets must answer is this—with a still rebuilding team and a starting rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, does it really make sense to spend both draft picks and salary-cap space to go after a proven, veteran edge rusher such as Brandon Graham of Philadelphia or Chandler Jones or Arizona?
Or does it make more sense to shop at the NFL’s version of the bargain bin? That market will open up Tuesday, when teams must trim their rosters to 53 players.