Ten initial thoughts about the Jets trading for Haason Reddick

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In an offseason that has been full of splashes, the Jets made another on Friday trading for star Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick. There are a number of different angles to this deal. Here are some of my initial thoughts.

  1. I think any discussion needs to begin with one reality. The Jets traded for a heck of a pass rusher. Reddick has quietly been one of the league’s best at getting to the quarterback in recent years. Since 2020, he has posted the fourth most sacks in the NFL and never had less than 11 in any individual season. Reddick is the type of player who takes your pass rush to the next level, even if you already have defensive line talent. There’s nothing wrong with Jermaine Johnson and John Franklin-Myers. In fact, they are both very good. They aren’t Reddick, though.

On paper, the addition of Reddick can an already good Jets defense to the next level in a way a player like Jadeveon Clowney would not.

2. I think it’s understandable to question the chain of events that brought Reddick to New York. In a vacuum, adding Reddick is tough to argue with. Despite what many Jets fans are saying, though, it’s tough for me to separate this move from the departure of Bryce Huff.

The Jets probably wouldn’t be in the market for Reddick had they kept Huff. It’s reasonable to wonder whether the Eagles would be willing to trade Reddick if they did not add Huff.

Which team will get the better of the deal? It’s tough to say. Reddick is the more complete player. He has the better resume. But Huff is four years younger and ascending right as Reddick is about to hit the magic 30 year old mark. It is also reasonable to think he has yet to scratch the surface of his talent.

You can say Huff was already gone. Well that was only a few weeks ago. You can say he didn’t want to come back. Well that’s in part because the Jets coaching staff didn’t seem to feel he was a full-time player.

Which team will get the better of this move? I think it’s tough to say. There’s enough evidence for either point that I will wait and see. The fact the Jets gave up a day two pick for Reddick when Huff could have been re-signed is a negative point, but not necessarily determinative. Either way, I see a clear connection between the two, and these players will likely be linked for the next few years.

3. I think the Jets paid a premium for Reddick. A day two pick is a day two pick. It’s valuable no matter when it comes. The idea that the pick lacks value because it is in two years seems like very short-sighted thinking. Yes, NFL teams view a future pick as less valuable than a current pick, but NFL teams tend to be short sighted. Joe Douglas is trying to save his job. He doesn’t care about the future. Eventually 2026 will come, though.

It’s very difficult for me to justify trading a second day pick for a one year rental, no matter how talented the player is. I think to justify this deal, the Jets will likely need to extend Reddick’s contract to get multiple productive years from him. Short of that, they would need to hope Reddick leaves, and things line up to receive a compensatory pick in return. Given the factors at play, I think it would be risky to go with the compensatory pick strategy.

I do expect the Jets to work out a new deal with Reddick to lower his cap hit, however.

4. I think the Jets need to start balancing their future with the present. The Jets were short a day two pick a year ago. They project to be down another this year. Now they will be down another in 2026. Something has to give.

There’s nothing wrong with trading a pick or two (or three) to add great players. You do eventually need to replenish the well, however. Day two is where much of the meat is found in successful Draft classes. Consistently selling off those picks is a recipe for long-term pain.

If you can get three quality years out of Reddick, it’s tough to argue with the results of trading a third round pick. But going forward the Jets should be looking to trade down frequently to get back the picks they have traded away in the last two years. The Jets already project to have an old roster this year with some gaping holes to fill in just one year’s time. They need to start replacing lost future assets.

5. I think it’s difficult to call this trade anything other than a vote of no confidence in 2023 first round pick Will McDonald. It would be one thing if McDonald was projected to be the team’s top pass rusher off the edge in 2024. Then maybe you’d want to add somebody proven for insurance.

McDonald was instead projected to be the third defensive end. Now he’s been bounced to the fourth defensive end spot.

I know Robert Saleh likes to rotate his defensive ends, but there is a finite number of snaps at the defensive end position.

I looked back at Jets game by game snap totals in 2023. The snap totals of the defensive end who got the fourth most snaps in each game adds up to 369. Keep in mind, that was with one of the top three defensive ends, Bryce Huff, only playing 42 percent of the snaps. Reddick played 74 percent of the snaps with the Eagles last year. We can expect him to have a bigger snap share than Huff, and they probably won’t all come at the expense of the top two.

Let’s put McDonald’s anticipated snap share into context. There have been 31 edge rushers drafted in the top 15 since 2012. Only three of them had less than 369 snaps in their second season, and that was because all three missed major time due to injury. Only two of the 31 were not a starter in year two. And we are talking about McDonald not even being the primary backup at the position. This move knocked McDonald out of that primary backup role.

Jets fans are making a valiant effort to try and find an argument that this move will have no impact on McDonald, but barring another move to clear the logjam, this on some level has to be viewed as some sort of vote of no confidence in McDonald.

6. I think it’s difficult to envision that sort of move that would open more playing time for McDonald coming. One of the top three defensive ends would need to go. The Jets just traded for Reddick. He isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Jermaine Johnson. You could maybe argue John Franklin-Myers would be a candidate. However, he plays an important power end role for the Jets. I don’t see the 240 pound Reddick filling that role. A Jadeveon Clowney might have and made JFM expendable. But from where I sit, McDonald seems like the loser.

7. I think if the Jets have deemed the McDonald pick a whiff, it’s better that they admit it quickly than give him snaps for the sake of appearances. Obviously that doesn’t let you off the hook for missing on a first round pick, especially considering how many question marks surrounded this pick at the time it was made. But it’s at least not letting an error linger.

8. I think it’s never too early to set realistic expectations for Reddick. People are understandably looking at his eye popping 16 sacks and Second Team All Pro nod from two years ago. But it’s never a good idea to expect a player to match career year production.

The good news is Reddick has been a consistent pass rusher with four straight 11 sack seasons. Is 11 the floor? I would argue not.

For starters, the Jets are likely to reduce his snap share. He is likely to blow past Huff’s 42 percent, but Saleh’s rotation will likely drop the 74% from a year ago. In fact the Jets have an incentive to do so. Reddick playing less than 67.5% of the snaps will prevent the pick from escalating from a third round pick to a second round pick.

Reddick is also going to hit 30 years old this season. I wouldn’t expect his production to completely fall off a cliff, but we might want to prepare for some modest regression. Using the Stathead database, I took a look at every player who had a double digit sack season at age 29 since 2010. Of the 21 players, 18 saw their sack totals go down the next year.

The positive news is these players did not become completely useless. They averaged 8 sacks the next season. An 8 to 9 sack campaign from Reddick would be pretty good if you factor in a reduced snap share. And a reduced snap count could leave him fresher and increase his efficiency.

9. I think if you’re going to go all in, adding the likes of Tyron Smith, Mike Williams, and Reddick makes a heck of a lot more sense than Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Billy Turner.

10. I think the 2024 Jets roster looks stacked on paper.

As we all know, “on paper” is a key phrase. Sometimes these super teams don’t pan out the way they are supposed to. The Jets have coaching deficiencies. They are depending on an inordinate number of older players with enhanced injury and decline risks compounded by a lack of depth at most key positions. The outlook past 2024 appears challenging based on the decisions of the last two offseasons.

But if everybody stays healthy and plays up to their expectations, this team has a really high ceiling. Reddick takes it even higher.

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Title: Ten initial thoughts about the Jets trading for Haason Reddick
Author: John B

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