Jets' Carl Lawson says his desire is to play, contribute as trade rumors swirl: 'I'm a football player not a cheerleader'

This is not how Carl Lawson imagined his 2023 season with the Jets going.

After playing in all 17 games in 2022 with Gang Green, where he recorded seven sacks and 33 tackles, Lawson has seen his playing time diminish this year.

A lot of that has to do with the back injury he suffered during training camp, which cost him Week 1 of the season. But since then, he’s taken 30 percent or less of the team’s defensive snaps.

His limited role with New York has put Lawson’s name in a lot of trade speculation, something the 28-year-old says he doesn’t think about.

“I haven’t really thought about it. How would you feel?” Lawson told the media Thursday. “I haven’t really thought about it that much. A lot of stuff is out there and you do what you want with it. If stuff happens, it happens.”

Lawson said he’s had talks with the organization about certain things but wouldn’t go into detail. He just hammered home his desire to play whether that’s with the Jets or another team.

“I definitely want to play because I know I can contribute, I’ve proven that,” Lawson explained. “I always want to contribute. Right now I’m with the Jets. I definitely want to play more, do what I did last season and then some. Coming off a double Achilles, put up good numbers and I feel like I can do more.”

Lawson missed the entire 2021 season, his first under contract with the Jets, because of a ruptured Achilles after starting his career with the Bengals. He also had two different ACL tears, one while with Cincinnati and another while playing for Auburn.

With that injury history, Lawson knows how to get his body right after season-ending injuries and still compete at a high level.

“I do believe I’m capable of a lot of different things on the field and able to produce at a very very high level,” he said. “Unlike most athletes, I know how to, coming off of injury, get my body to being more explosive and recover from anything. As I age I’m not one of those people who are going to drop off because I’ve done it my whole career. It was unfortunate I had the injury at camp but I know the type of person and player that I am and my arrow is always trending up no matter what the situation is."

Lawson would say later, “Would I have imagined this being the start for my season? No. But that's life sometimes, it hits you really fast. I put in a lot of work this offseason, probably the best offseason I ever had, and then a setback happens. A lot of people would go into the crapper and be like ‘this is it.’ But that’s not who I am, that’s not Carl Lawson.”

With the NFL Trade Deadline on Tuesday, Oct. 31 the Jets will have to decide what moves they will make to improve their team. New York is an improbable 3-3 after losing Aaron Rodgers on the fourth play of the season, and have a winnable game this Sunday against the Giants.

Teams can always use a defensive player like Lawson who, at just 28 years old, has recorded 27 sacks, 117 tackles in parts of six seasons in the NFL.

And while he can’t control where he'll be after Oct. 31, Lawson simply wants to play.

“I’ve always wanted to help the Jets win and be the best version of myself for a team," he said. "But at the end of the day I want to be a football player and produce and help. I’m a football player not a cheerleader. That’s where my head’s at….As long as I’m a Jet I’m going to keep getting better and be the best version of Carl Lawson I can be.”