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Reports: Jets won’t pick up Ben Ijalana’s option in 2018

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New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

A few beat writers indicate the Jets will not pick up Ben Ijalana’s option in 2018, meaning the offensive lineman will become a free agent. Today was the deadline to exercise the option.

The Jets apparently will let OT Ben Ijalana test free agency. They have yet to exercise a $500,000 option bonus and the deadline was today, according to the NFL Network. The option would’ve triggered a $4.5 million base salary (non-guaranteed). The move saves the Jets $4.7 million on the cap. Ijalana, 28, has value because he can play left and right tackle. The Jets could try to re-sign him as a free agent.

The Jets signed Ijalana to a 2 year, $11 million contract last offseason.

I don’t mean to get crazy with superlatives, but that was one of the dumbest contracts an NFL team has given out in recent memory.

It didn’t come with the type of big money that brought franchise-changing implications like the Albert Haynesworth contract in Washington or recent Jets disasters like the contracts for Darrelle Revis or Muhammad Wilkerson. There just wasn’t any logic behind it.

It’s one thing to get a projection wrong. Revis’ productive days were near an end when the Jets signed him three years ago, but he had been a great cornerback. The Jets misjudged how long he could maintain being an effective player.

Wilkerson was playing at a star level when the Jets gave him his contract. They made an error projecting how he would handle receiving the money and how effective he would be on the field.

To be clear, misses like this were and are major marks against Mike Maccagnan. It is his job to get it right. At least in those cases, however, you could understand what he was thinking even if he was ultimately proven wrong. These were high end players, and he thought they would continue to be high end players so he gave them contracts.

We might never get to the bottom of what compelled the Jets to give Ijalana his contract. He had zero track record of success in the NFL. He had barely even gotten onto the field in his career, and the results were not good. He was at an age where there was no upside and little hope he could grow into something more. His profile fit the mold of somebody who should be getting a minimum deal and an invite to training camp.

Baffling as the move was at the time, he apparently didn’t even fit into the team’s plans at all. He wasn’t a starter. He wasn’t the first offensive lineman off the bench when a starter got hurt. He wasn’t even the second offensive lineman off the bench. Ijalana played 56 snaps on offense for the Jets in 2017, all for a pricetag of over $4 million against the cap.

The Jets will save around $4.7 million in cap space, but Over the Cap suggests the team will still be on the hook for $1.25 million in dead money. I don’t think I’d offer Ijalana a $1.25 million contract to be on the team, and that’s what he will cost the Jets to not be on the team.

That deal was one for the books.