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Thoughts on the Jets’ trade for Kelechi Osemele

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason has officially begun. ESPN reports the Jets are acquiring guard Kelechi Osemele. The trade will not become official until the new league year begins, but the terms are set. New York will receive Osemele and the 196th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (sixth rounder that originally belonged to Chicago. Oakland will receive the 140th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (Jets’ fifth round selection).

My initial thoughts are as follows.

Premature analysis suggests Mike Maccagnan’s priorities are in order.

It is too early to have a full view of the Jets’ approach to the offseason, but the focus on the offensive line is an encouraging first step. The Jets need to get better in the trenches to protect their most prized asset, Sam Darnold. The fact their first addition of substance this offseason showed a focus on that is a positive.

The Jets gave up practically nothing for a guard with an excellent resume.

To me the fifth round and beyond is the dart throwing portion of the Draft. I don’t think the odds of finding a good player are substantially worse at pick 196 than they are at pick 140 so the opportunity cost isn’t that great for acquiring a guard who has been to the Pro Bowl in two of the last three years.

The guard market isn’t looking stellar.

I think part of evaluating a trade is looking at the alternatives. In many instances, a trade doesn’t make sense because there are comparable players available on free agency. Why give up any Draft pick, even a late rounder, in a trade when a free agent can be signed for just money?

I think this year’s guard market makes a trade worthwhile. I think Rodger Saffold would be a nice fit for the Jets, but I also think there’s a big decline in the market after him. And there’s going to be plenty of competition for Saffold. Even if the Jets are the high bidder, he might prefer another team.

It isn’t crazy to think the Raiders could have found another trade partner.

Something else we must consider when evaluating a trade are the odds the player will be cut. The same principle from above applies. Why give up a pick when you can just wait for the player to be cut and be acquired for money only?

While the Raiders didn’t get much in this deal, I don’t think it’s crazy to think theymight have found another taker for Osemele had they continued to shop the guard. A lot of teams need offensive line help, and it is a thin market.

The Jets probably would have pursued Osemele had he hit free agency anyway.

Again, it’s a thin guard market, and the Jets need a guard. Rather than roll the dice that no other trade partner would emerge for the Raiders and that they could land Osemele in the unpredictability of free agency, the Jets guaranteed the addition by paying a very small price.

What’s the downside?

A deal is ultimately only as good as the player performs. Osemele is coming off an injury-plagued season where his performance took a dip. If he bounces back to his pre-2018 form, this will be remembered as a steal. If his 2018 was a sign of things to come, nobody will remember this trade as a positive.