With New York Jets’ guard Brian Winters set to hit free agency, should general manager Mike Maccagnan bring him back?
Despite struggling in his first two seasons as a Jet, in 2015, Todd Bowles decided to switch him from left guard to right guard in which Winters blossomed.
Per Pro Football Focus, the 25-year old had a pass blocking efficiency of 99.4, tied for the best amongst NFL guards in 2016.
Along with fellow guard James Carpenter, who also ranked high with an overall blocking grade of 83.0 per PFF, the two were the only Jets offensive lineman that performed moderately well this season.
However, with a crumbling offensive line, Maccagnan must sign Winters before he hits the free agent market.
According to Celebrity Glad, Winters market value is set at $5.9 million per year. With that considered, Maccagnan must rebuild the Jets roster by releasing players with big cap hits this season. According to OverTheCap, Gang Green has $927 in cap space.
In the light that extremely low cap space, we will see the release of offensive left tackle Ryan Clady which will open up $10 million in cap room and more than likely also see the release of center Nick Mangold — who suffered a severe ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve during the 2016 season.
The release of the 11-year veteran will open up $9 million dollars in cap space. Then, taking over the center position will be third-year pro, Wesley Johnson, who started eight games after Mangold went down.
Furthermore, the Jets must assess the offensive tackle positions during the upcoming draft or via free agency. Right tackle, Breno Giacomini scored a low PFF grade of 44.3 and his release will open up $4.5 million.
Left tackle Benjamin Ijalana, who started a whopping 13 games last season, scored a horrible PFF grade of 43.7. He’s a five-year veteran who has not shown any improvement and consequently, it is imperative that Gang Green finds his replacement.
Winters is one player that the Jets need to keep as he has turned into one of the top young offensive guards in the NFL. Maccagnan could have some much-needed leverage in resigning Winters prior to him hitting free agency. As a consequence of Winters suffering a torn rotator cuff late in the 2016 season, Brian could see his market value affected.
Addressing the offensive line’s needs is essential for the Jets if they wish to possess a potent offense and a successful quarterback. Notably, New York’s quarterbacks endured a total of 35 sacks last season.
Owner Woody Johnson has stated that he believes Macaggnan can build a consistent winner and also said the team will build primarily through the draft while finding other players through free agency.
That has not been the norm for owner Woody Johnson, as he usually goes for the quick fix when he loses his poise. Time will tell how long Woody’s “patience” should happen to last.