The New York Jets require work on the offensive line if they’re looking to compete. Improvement is first needed at center.
New York Jets offseason positional preview: Part V
The position: Center
Current names on roster: Jonotthan Harrison
Free agents: Ryan Kalil
Reserve/Future/Injured: Brad Lundblade, Jimmy Murray
The position on the position
After years of being spoiled by the security services of Nick Mangold and Kevin Mawae, the New York Jets have had trouble at the center spot on the offensive line. They thought they had a long-term solution in Spencer Long in 2018. Formerly of the Washington Redskins, Long signed a four-year deal but failed to last a whole season in the spot before errant snaps convinced the Jets to cut ties with him after the year was over.
Harrison took over after Long’s demotion. Unsatisfied with Harrison’s snapping too, the Jets sought help for the 2019 campaign. One of general manager Joe Douglas’ first moves was to lure ex-Carolina All-Pro Ryan Kalil out of retirement. Kalil was likewise ineffective and injuries later cut his return season short. Harrison would finish out the rest of the year on a decent note and is signed through the 2020 season. Lundblade and Murray were signed to future/reserve contracts shortly after the season’s end. The latter was an XFL draft pick chosen by the new franchise in St. Louis.
Ryan Kalil-It’s safe to say that the Kalil experiment didn’t work out. With a new management regime, it’s likely that the Jets seek a new starter to call their own, whether it’s adding somebody or re-upping with Harrison.
Will they draft?
Possibly, but in the later rounds. The offensive line is the area where the Jets need to improve the most, but with the decently reliable Harrison in tow, they’d be better off upgrading the tackles or guards before worrying about the center. Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin and Creed Humphrey of Oklahoma are the top prospects at the position in the coming proceedings. Possible latter-day options include Nick Harris (Washington) and versatile Mississippi State captain Darryl Williams.
Veteran names to watch
A.Q. Shipley, Arizona-If the Jets opt to go for a veteran option in lieu of Harrison, Shipley would an affordable, durable choice. The 33-year-old has started all 16 games in three of the past four seasons. The Knicks might want to put in a word to Shipley as well…he helped his high school team win a state title in 2004.
Brett Jones, Minnesota-Veteran assistance could also come in the form of a Meadowlands reunion. Jones spent three consistent seasons with the New York Giants before he was traded to the Vikings in 2018. The Saskatchewan native is also an accomplished CFL star. He won the league’s top rookie honor in 2013 and also took home both the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award and a Grey Cup ring a year later.
Hroniss Grasu, Baltimore-Injuries and inconsistency have limited the third-rounder from 2015, but the Jets could take a shot on him considering his history with the coaching staff. His rookie season was spent in Chicago under then-offensive coordinator Adam Gase followed by two years under his successor Dowell Loggains.
Improving the offensive line for Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell should be the Jets’ top priority. Center seems to be the most stable part of the blocking, so resources will likely be dedicated to other areas. Harrison is decent enough to seek help elsewhere, but it wouldn’t be shocking at all for the Jets to at least reopen a competition, whether it involves a draftee, a free agent, or one of the future/reserve signees.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.