How John Franklin-Myers' departure will impact the Jets

The Jets’ defensive line was already going to have a different look in 2024 with the likes of Bryce Huff, Quinton Jefferson, and Al Woods all departing in free agency. However, when news broke that John Franklin-Myers had been traded to the Denver Broncos on the final day of the draft, this underscored that fact further.

The line still figures to be a strength for the Jets in 2024, though. Pro-Bowlers Quinnen Williams and Jermaine Johnson are back, and the team made a major splash when they traded for Haason Reddick, who is one of the league’s most productive pass rushers in recent years.

In order to weigh how the team is going to approach 2024 with this new-look group, it’s helpful to recap their approach from last year. It’s well-documented that Robert Saleh uses a deep group of defensive linemen and rotates them regularly to keep everyone fresh.

Franklin-Myers and Johnson were the starters at defensive end on running downs, but on passing downs, Franklin-Myers would line up next to Williams -- usually aligned opposite one of the tackles, with Huff and Johnson typically coming off the edge.

On passing downs in 2024, the Jets no doubt want to get Reddick and Johnson on the field together to come off the edge, which makes sense. Reddick effectively is a direct replacement for Huff here. There will also be an opportunity for someone else to line up inside with Williams now that Franklin-Myers won’t be back.

It may make a bigger difference on running downs, where Franklin-Myers played a key role on the strong side. Reddick might end up playing more of a role on these downs than was initially expected, but he’s much smaller than Franklin-Myers -- so the Jets should also use Micheal Clemons to rotate in for some of these situations.

Before the Franklin-Myers trade, it seemed highly unlikely that Reddick would play enough in 2024 to meet the playing time condition that would escalate the pick the Jets gave up from a third-rounder to a second-rounder.

Even though he now looks set to see more playing time than anticipated, the 62.5 percent threshold is still at the high end of what you’d expect from a starting lineman due to the heavy rotations Saleh employs, so there’s a good chance he will still fall short. It’s worth noting that Reddick must also record at least 10 sacks for the full conditions to be met.

Another player who could be affected by the Franklin-Myers move is Javon Kinlaw. In free agency, the Jets gave the former first-rounder a contract that suggests they have a significant role in mind for him, but it would have been difficult to get him on the field on passing downs with both Williams and Franklin-Myers used to a full-time role in those situations.

The trade creates an opportunity for Kinlaw to build on a 2023 season that saw him set a career high with 3.5 sacks.

Something else the Jets could explore is using Solomon Thomas, who was re-signed and will be back for a third season with the team, on the outside. Thomas has played there before and could be an ideal fit in the strongside defensive end role on running downs as the Jets look to fortify their run defense in the trenches.

Thomas, whom the Jets coached clocked at 21 miles per hour at one point last year, has the athleticism to play this role in addition to rotating in on the inside, and the strength to set the edge effectively.

Another curve ball the Jets might throw into their game plans could be to line Quinnen Williams up on the edge from time to time.

Kansas City has had good success doing this with Chris Jones on passing downs. While this would only be used sparingly as a change-up, the Jets could explore doing it more often if it yields similar results.

Finally, it will ease the logjam slightly, which could create opportunities for young players to get more playing time, especially for last year’s first round pick Will McDonald.

Overall, we shouldn’t expect too many changes from a successful defensive system, with the personnel they have capable of replacing the outgoing players.

We can expect a heavy rotation as usual to keep everyone fresh, with multiple players able to win one-on-one matchups and hungry to earn as much playing time and statistical production as possible.

Although Franklin-Myers is one of a few key departures from last year’s dominant line, there will be no respite for Jets opponents in 2024. The expectation is that this will be a formidable unit once again.