New York Jets release DE Shaq Lawson, save against 2022 salary cap

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Defensive end Shaq Lawson, a former first-round draft pick whose playing time was reduced in recent weeks, was released Saturday by the New York Jets.

Lawson, 27, was a healthy scratch in two of the past three games. His release was inevitable, as he was due to count $9 million on the 2022 salary cap. He was a one-year stopgap player for the Jets, who traded for him at the end of the preseason.

The Jets also released veteran safety Sharrod Neasman, who played in 11 games with 14 tackles and one interception.

When they lost defensive end Carl Lawson to a season-ending Achilles injury in training camp, the Jets set out to find a veteran replacement. They wound up with Lawson, sending a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans.

Lawson, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2016, played in 14 games for the Jets, starting seven. He finished with only 23 tackles and one sack but made one of the most impactful defensive plays of the season.

Facing Cincinnati in Week 8, Lawson tipped a pass by Joe Burrow and caught the deflection at the Bengals' 15-yard line with under five minutes to play, setting up the Jets' game-winning touchdown. Afterward, several players called Lawson's play one of the best interceptions by a defensive lineman they had ever seen.

The former Clemson star has played for three teams in six years, not including the Texans, who acquired him from the Miami Dolphins in March 2021. He never saw regular-season action for Houston. Lawson has 21.5 career sacks in 78 games.

The Jets (4-12) close the season Sunday at the Buffalo Bills (10-6).