A look at the New York Jets crowded linebacker situation

C.J. Mosley, New York Jets. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
C.J. Mosley, New York Jets. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Wednesday, the New York Jets agreed to terms on a one year deal with former Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. His addition to Gang Green’s other recent linebacker signings means there will be lots of competition for playing time in 2020.

This may not have been the offseason New York Jets fans were hoping for especially after last spring’s splashy signings of Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Jamison Crowder. Gang Green General Manager Joe Douglas has taken a different approach by trying to fill holes as well as adding depth to a roster that was thin in some spots. Adding Partick Onwuasor however, is neither of those things.

Oswuasor actually played with Mosely in 2018 as part of that strong Baltimore defense that helped the team to a10-6 record. When Mosley left for New York last year, Onwuasor was one of the players who picked up the slack by moving to middle linebacker.

Last season he played in 14 games, started six and was on the field for 48 percent of Baltimore’s defensive snaps. Oswuasor finished with 64 tackles (48 solo), an interception, and three sacks. It’s very possible he could reprise his previous role, starting at linebacker alongside Mosley in the Jets 4-3 scheme.

The biggest question mark here is Avery Williamson who was out for all of 2019 after a preseason ACL tear. The combo of Mosley and Williamson was a duo Jets fans were excited to see but it was unfortunately not meant to be.

Before the injury Williamson was consistent. He started pretty much every game over his five-year career with averaging three sacks and an interception. No reason why he can’t come back and do similar things. On the other hand, if the New York Jets cut Williamson they will gain $6.5M in cap space.

When Mosley went down at the start of the season Jets were forced to play Jordan Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, and James Burgess as their starting linebackers. The trio did well considering Gang Green yielded the seventh-fewest total yards. The front seven did even better as they were the second-best defense against the run.

Jenkins, in particular, did very well during his time as a starter. In 14 games last year, he had 21 tackles and a solid eight sacks. The University of Georgia product earned his spot on the team and New York Jets is happy to have him back for next season. So now they have six men that can start for the defense.

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The question is, who will play?

That answer is all of them. Mosley will start and play most of the downs considering he is a former first-team all-pro. Jenkins will go back to playing the SAM linebacker where he did so well in 2019. Williamson and Onwuasor will fight it out for playing time at the WILL spot (if the former is still on the team).

Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams was very impressed with Hewitt and Burgess’ performance last season He has a tendency to rotate guys throughout the game so they will definitely see action. Playing time will depend on the situation. It will be fun to see what combination Williams comes up with.

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The Jets defense is mostly set for the coming season. They probably could use another cornerback and some depth along the line. No need to add any more linebackers though. Gang Green is loaded there.