The New York Jets made a major contract move with Carl Lawson on Thursday. The Jets restructured Lawson’s contract and created $12.7 million in salary cap space.

There’d been rumors all offseason that the Jets could cut Lawson and save $15 million since none of his money was guaranteed in 2023. Lawson is in the final season of a three-year, $45 million contract he signed prior to the 2021 season.

Despite selecting Will McDonald IV, who plays defensive end like Lawson, in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Jets head coach Robert Saleh made it clear he wanted the veteran back on the edge this upcoming season. Restructuring his contract makes it easier to keep the 28-year-old around for at least one more season.

Lawson’s base deal is now $9 million this season with $8 million guaranteed. He can also make an additional $3 million in incentives.

New York’s top edge rusher missed all of 2021 after sustaining a torn Achilles in training camp. Lawson returned last season and played every game, finishing with seven sacks, his most since he had 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2017 with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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The Jets depth chart is stacked at defensive end. Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, who also recently restructured his contract, are the starters. McDonald joins a deep group that includes 2022 first-round pick Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons, and Bryce Huff as backups.

Will new Carl Lawson deal help Jets sign Quinnen Williams?

The new deal leaves the Jets with roughly $19.3 million in cap space. Whether or not that helps them sign disgruntled defensive tackle Quinnen Williams remains to be seen. The 2022 All-Pro is sitting out voluntary workouts and recently scrubbed the Jets from his social media accounts because he wants a massive new contract.

A new deal for Williams likely would come in at around four years and $90 million with roughly $48 million guaranteed, considering recent NFL deals for Dexter Lawrence of the New York Giants and Jeffrey Simmons of the Tennessee Titans.