Sunday’s NFL: Jets acquire edge rusher Shaq Lawson from Texans

Detroit News

Florham Park, N.J. — The New York Jets are replacing one sack-happy Lawson with another.

Edge rusher Shaq Lawson was acquired by the Jets from the Houston Texans on Sunday for a sixth-round pick in next year’s NFL draft, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

The Jets were in dire need of a pass-rushing specialist after Carl Lawson was lost for the season on Aug. 19 with a ruptured Achilles tendon. New York filled that need by bringing in Shaq Lawson, who has 20 1/2 sacks in five seasons with Buffalo and Miami. He was acquired by Houston in a trade with the Dolphins in March.

NFL Network first reported the Jets’ trade for Shaq Lawson, who is not related to Carl Lawson. The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither team had announced the trade.

Shaq Lawson was the 19th overall pick by Buffalo out of Clemson in 2016. After he had 10 sacks in three seasons, the Bills opted to not exercise his fifth-year option — making him a free agent in 2020. The 27-year-old Lawson, who had a career-high 6 1/2 sacks in 2019, signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Miami last year.

He had four sacks in 14 games, including seven starts, for the Dolphins. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown. In March, Miami traded him and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to Houston for linebacker Benardrick McKinney and a seventh-rounder.

Shaq Lawson has two years and $9.8 million left on his contract, which was restructured by Houston in March. He is making $990,000 this season.

He is a much-needed addition to a Jets defense that was deflated when Carl Lawson went down during a joint practice session with the Packers in Green Bay. Much of what coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich plan to do on defense is predicated on having a solid pass rusher to complement a pocket-squeezing D-line.

They had that in Carl Lawson, who was signed to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He had been arguably the Jets’ best player in training camp, consistently making his presence felt in the backfield and giving New York perhaps its first big-time pass rusher in 20 years.

Shaq Lawson will now help fill that void as a young but experienced edge rusher. The Jets also have Bryce Huff, a second-year defensive end from Memphis, who is expected to get increased playing time.

Vikes sign 10th-year safety Harrison Smith to $64M extension

The Minnesota Vikings signed five-time Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith to a four-year contract extension on Sunday, securing the team’s longest-tenured player for what could be the remainder of his decorated career.

Smith has a league-leading 28 interceptions among all safeties since he entered the NFL in 2012. Only Hall of Famer Paul Krause (150) has started more games at safety in Vikings history than Smith (129).

According to a person with knowledge of the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the terms were not being announced, the new contract is worth $64 million with a little more than $26 million guaranteed. That will put Smith safely among the top five highest-paid safeties in the NFL, with Seattle’s Jamal Adams at the top of the annual average values.

Prior to the signing, Smith was in the final year of his deal with a salary cap hit slightly above $10 million. At age 32, the new contract ought to ensure he’ll stay with the Vikings as long as he’s on the field. No one from the team was available to the media on Sunday. Smith was scheduled to address reporters on Monday.

Drafted in the first round in 2012 out of Notre Dame, Smith quickly entrenched himself as the anchor of the secondary and had two of his four career interception returns for touchdowns as a rookie. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2015 and was an All-Pro pick in 2017. Smith also holds the franchise record for defensive backs with 13 1/2 career sacks.

Smith is seventh in Vikings history in interceptions, with Krause (53) leading the way. Bobby Bryant (51), Ed Sharockman (40), Joey Browner (37), Nate Wright (31) and Carl Lee (29) are next.

Smith has not missed a game to injury over the last four years, with just one absence in 2019 when the Vikings held several starters out of the final regular season game with their seed for the playoffs already secured.

This year, Smith will have all new starters around him in the secondary, with safety Xavier Woods and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander all signed as free agents.

Ravens’ Dobbins expected to miss season because of torn ACL

Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is expected to miss the 2021 season with a torn ACL.

“Been down this road before,” tweeted Zac Hiller, Dobbins’ agent, while retweeting an ESPN report about the injury. “He’ll come back bigger stronger faster.”

Dobbins left the Ravens’ preseason finale at Washington on Saturday night midway through the first quarter following his injury, and coach John Harbaugh said only that the former Ohio State star would be evaluated. The news Sunday is a blow for Baltimore, which led the NFL in rushing last season.

Much of the Ravens’ rushing prowess of late has been because of quarterback Lamar Jackson, but Dobbins ran for 805 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie last season. Gus Edwards, who ran for 723 yards and six TDs, could now play a more important role.

Baltimore set an NFL record Saturday with its 20th consecutive preseason victory, but this hasn’t been an easy training camp for the Ravens. Jackson and Edwards both missed the start of camp after positive COVID-19 tests, and the team’s revamped receiving corps has had injury issues as well.

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