Big names aren’t the only way the New York Jets can fix their offensive line. Plenty of under-the-radar players would be perfect fits.
The New York Jets have been connected to the biggest offensive linemen on the market since the season ended. The media has made connections to New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney and Washington Redskins guard Brandon Scherff.
It makes sense. The Jets have gaping holes in their offensive line and a ton of caps space. Why wouldn’t they target the biggest names on the market? Well, both of those players have some pretty big question marks despite their elite ability.
Scherff has huge injury concerns. He plays at an elite level when he’s on the field, especially in the run game, but he’s never healthy. Scherff hasn’t played a full 16 games since the 2016-17 season. He’s only played in 19 of the Redskins’ last 32 games.
The talent is tempting no doubt, but is it worth it? Scherff is going to be 29 in December. Giving someone with his injury history a big contract as he heads into his 30s isn’t smart business.
Thuney makes more sense, but he has two issues. First, his price is going to be absurdly high. It’s likely he’s going to want to beat Brandon Brooks’ record-setting deal for a guard. That means paying a guard $15 mil a season. That a lot of money the least valuable position on the offensive line.
Even if a team can get past that, there’s the Patriots factor. Players who leave the Patriots system tend to fall off. That’s especially true for offensive linemen, just ask the New York Giants how they feel about Nate Solder.
This isn’t to say the Jets shouldn’t look to add offensive linemen in free agency this year. They desperately need to improve their offensive line. There’s just a better way to do it.
G/C Graham Glasgow
Glasgow is one of the most unheralded offensive linemen in the NFL. The Detroit Lions guard may be the best buy on the market this year.
He’s going to be 28-years-old for the entirety of the 2020 season. That means he’s likely going to be no older than 32 in his next contract year. That’s if he gets a five-year contract, which is highly unlikely. That means whoever signs him is getting his prime years.
Glasgow has been the picture of health in his career. He’s missed just one game in the last three seasons which came in 2019 after he suffered a back injury.
His play on the field the last two years has been excellent. He took over as the team’s starting center in 2019 and he gave up just two sacks. He was only called for three penalties over the course of the season.
In 2020 he moved back over to guard with young Frank Ragnow taking over at center. Glasgow was even better. He didn’t allow a single sack and again was only called for three penalties the whole season.
Compare that to Brian Winters who allowed 6.5 sacks and six penalties in the last two years. It’s also worth noting that Winters played in five fewer games than Glasgow did.
A versatile player like Glasgow is exactly who the Jets should be targeting. The team needs help at both guard and center. Glasgow could fill either need, giving them more options to choose from in free agency.
Glasgow should be the Jets’ No. 1 target when free agency opens up on March 18.
G/C Connor McGovern
Connor McGovern is another versatile interior offensive lineman. The Denver Broncos’ center isn’t as good as Glasgow, but he’s still an above-average lineman.
McGovern is also younger than Glasgow. He will be 27-years-old at the start of the 2020 season. That means the likely three-year contract he’ll sign will end before McGovern turns 30. A team couldn’t hope for much better.
Like Glasgow, McGovern has been healthy his entire career. McGovern hasn’t missed a single game in the last two seasons.
On the field, McGovern started his NFL career as a guard where he excelled. After Matt Paradis left in 2019, McGovern moved over to center where he may have been even better.
McGovern allowed just one sack but had six penalties in 2018 at guard. In 2019 at center, he allowed 3.5 sacks but committed no penalties. Considering center is the more difficult position and is often more reliable for sacks allowed than guards, those are encouraging numbers.
That’s without mentioning that McGovern was blocking for the immobile Joe Flacco for the majority of the 2019 season. That certainly inflates his sack numbers.
New York needs to improve center desperately and McGovern can make a case as the best one on the market. Whether or not the Jets pursue Glasgow, McGovern should be on their wish list.
G Ereck Flowers
Ereck Flowers has an unfair stigma around him from his time with the New York Giants. Flowers isn’t the same player he was back then. Since leaving the Giants, Flowers has developed into a quality guard.
The Giants cut Flowers in 2018 just five games into the season. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and played in seven of their eight remaining games. Flowers allowed just one sack and one penalty during that time.
The Jaguars let Flowers walk in free agency after the season. He signed with the Washington Redskins and put together a full season of quality play in his first year at guard.
Flowers allowed just 2.5 sacks while committing four penalties. He’s no elite-level player, but he’s an average guard who would be a massive improvement over the likes of Brian Winters and Alex Lewis.
Not to mention, Flowers is the youngest player on this list. He’ll be just 26-years-old during the 2020 season and there’s still plenty of time for him to grow into an even better guard on his next team.
Flowers has also only missed one game due to injury his entire career. Health isn’t an issue for him.
Flowers could be a steal considering the price he’s likely to cost in free agency. the Jets should take on a chance on a fantastic buy-low option. That would allow the team to spend bigger on a potential big-name free agent like Byron Jones or Yannick Ngakoue.