The Jets aren’t messing around in free agency, deciding to use their wealth of cap space to add young defenders to a reasonably promising defense. That effort now includes spending $85 million on middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirms.

Mosley, drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, is a four-time Pro Bowl player who will turn 26 in June. When he plays 16 games, he records more than 100 tackles. 

And even though the middle linebacker position is severely devalued in the modern NFL, Mosley just got handsomely paid by the Jets, who came into the 2019 offseason with more than $80 million in cap space to use. 

According to reports, the deal for Mosley averages $17 million per year and features a whopping $51 million guaranteed. This is an absurd number: the 49ers made Kwon Alexander the highest-paid inside linebacker on Monday (none of this is official until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET when the new league starts) and then the Jets absolutely blew that deal out of the water. Luke Kuechly averages $12.4 million per year and now Mosley is getting $17 million a season. It’s wild. Mosley has more guaranteed money in his deal than the total value of Bobby Wagner’s last contract. 

This wasn’t the only high-profile free agent linebacker signing for the Jets in the first 24 hours of free agency either, as New York spent big on former Vikings first-round pick Anthony Barr

Now the Jets are pretty loaded — especially from a cash perspective — at LB, with Avery Williamson (signed last year in free agency), Barr, Mosley and Jordan Jenkins filling up what should be a 3-4 defense. Add in Leonard Williams and there’s some gas there on the front seven. Mix Quinnen Williams in via the draft at No. 3 (just hypothetically) along with Jamal Adams on the backend and it’s pretty easy to fall in love with this Jets defense as long as Gregg Williams isn’t pulled away by one of his 92 handwritten head coaching offers before he can coach them up. 

As far as the contract itself, it’s pretty remarkable to compare it with the deal that Ray Lewis, a Hall of Fame middle linebacker and the guy Mosley was drafted to replace, received from the Ravens back in 2002. 

That’s not a by-product of the game itself changing either. Middle linebackers were far more important in 2002 than they are in 2019. It’s just a matter of the salary cap spiking over the last half decade and teams ending up with gobs of salary cap space.

The Jets have already been busy in free agency, inking three high-profile players to expensive deals.

Jamison Crowder got $9+ million per year over three years from New York to be their slot receiver (I think he’s a great fit in Adam Gase’s offense and it appears that’s the going rate for slot receivers in this market, so I don’t mind the deal, but dang if it’s not pricey). The Jets also landed Barr, just a year after making big splash signings with Williamson and Trumaine Johnson in free agency.

There’s clearly pressure on Mike Maccagnan to deliver results in the second year with Sam Darnold, and there’s a possibility he’s not done adding players in free agency, as the Jets have been linked to Le’Veon Bell in free agency as well. 

We’ll see how that unfolds: adding Bell would make this an absolute monster of a free agency class. As it stands, with Mosley getting big money from the Jets, this is already a substantial haul for New York and one that could shape their defense for the next few years.

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