I try to avoid discussing just any big name who becomes available as a possibility to come to the Jets, but a new possibility opened up yesterday. The Chiefs cut tackle Jared Gaither.
Why is this significant? Gaither spent the first four years of his career playing in Baltimore. Rex Ryan was on the coaching staff the first two. Gaither is a tackle. He started for the Ravens in 2008 and 2009. How good was his pass protection? When you cruch Pro Football Focus' numbers on disruptions (sacks, hits, and pressures), Gaither in those years blew an assignment resulting in one on 3.8% of plays on which he was a pass blocker. Remember how great D'Brickashaw Ferguson was in pass protection in 2010? Last year Brick allowed a disruption on 4.3%.
Gaither was nimble enough to play left tackle and thrive there in Baltimore. He is also an enormous guy, listed at 6'9" and 340 pounds. Sometimes linemen this big struggle to gain leverage because opponents can get underneath their center of gravity, but Gaither was a productive run blocker with the Ravens, a part of their productive rushing attack.
There are issues with Gaither. That is why he is available. Most notably is a back injury that kept him out the entire 2010 season. That back is supporting a big frame in a physical game. It would be something to watch. He also could not crack Kansas City's starting lineup and was cut halfway through the year. Some Chiefs fans say he did not mesh with the coaching staff there.
One key number on Gaither, though, is 25. He is only 25 years old. In theory, he could bring stability to the right tackle position for a long time. Wayne Hunter is certainly not a long term answer. He is a backup pressed into duty because of Vladimir Ducasse's stunning lack of development. We have seen raw flashes of potential from Ducasse in the run game. At this point, it might be best to try and nurture him as the future right guard and hone his run blocking skills without the responsibility of protecting the edge, an area he seems to be years away from mastering.
Gaither might not be an answer. There might be issues with his back or something else we do not know about. I will not be disappointed if the Jets do not sign him. He might be a hot commodity since almost everybody wants offensive line help. I will, however, be disappointed if we do not hear the Jets at least are exploring the possibility. I want the team to send a message that it is always looking to improve problem areas. Everybody on the roster should know that their job is not guaranteed.
What do you think?