Solomon Thomas ready to ‘dominate’ after signing with Jets
New Jets defensive lineman Solomon Thomas expects big things in 2022.
“I’m excited to go off,” Thomas said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “I’m excited to go dominate.”
Thomas, who was the No. 3 overall pick by the 49ers in 2017, admits his production has not been what he expected in the NFL. Thomas has 9 ½ sacks in five years. But Thomas said he feels good now that he is two years removed from his ACL tear and is ready to play at a higher level.
“I haven’t performed exactly how I’ve wanted over the years,” Thomas said. “My production is not there. I’ve had a good year here or there. I’ve had good plays. Most importantly, I show up and try to be the best teammate I can be every day. I try to bring championship-level effort, championship-level professionalism to a program every day I can. That’s what I’m here to do. I know my personal production can go up a lot. I know I can be a way better player in this league.”
Thomas signed a one-year deal with the Jets, relishing the chance to reunite with Jets coach Robert Saleh, who was his defensive coordinator in San Francisco from 2017-20. Thomas said he spoke to the Jets last season in free agency but went to the Raiders instead. This year, he said he wanted to come to the Jets.
“They’re attractive for a lot of reasons,” Thomas said. “It’s a young, hungry team. You look at the talent on the team, with some of the guys who are here, a young, hungry quarterback, a very young and talented D line. Also, coach Saleh really attracted me, too, knowing how he takes care of his players, how he coaches, the intensity and passion he brings, the scheme and philosophy and just how he runs a building. It’s set up for success.
“I want to bring a championship-level culture here. That was a goal of mine. I know that is a goal of coach Saleh’s – to win a championship. I know that what he’s doing here. He’s building to get to that level, to win a championship. That’s what we’re all trying to do here. I wanted to come here for a place I know is trying to achieve that level. I know we can do that here. That’s the goal.”
The 26-year-old said he has no concerns about playing his home games at MetLife Stadium on the field where he tore his ACL in 2020 against the Jets. Thomas played in the stadium last year with the Raiders against the Giants. He and the turf talked things out.
“I came out early, about three hours before game time,” Thomas said. “I sat on the turf and I made amends with it. I talked to it. I forgave it. I said, ‘hey, moving forward, we’re going to be buddies.’ I’m glad I did that because now I’ll be playing here eight, nine games a season. It also was new turf. I know it’s broken up a little bit and it’s more firm now. It’s a better turf now. I’m excited to be here. Like I said, me and the turf are on good terms now. We’re good to go.”
Thomas said he can play both inside and outside in Saleh’s defense and he feels the attacking style plays to his strengths.
“I’m an undersized, inside player but this is where I can thrive,” Thomas said. “I can use my athleticism. I can be quick. I can be explosive. Those are my strengths. I also like the simplicity of it. You know your call and we can adjust off of it but our main calls are our main calls and we play off that.”