After a season in which Sam Darnold took pressure on the highest percentage of dropbacks in the NFL (41.6%) and Le’Veon Bell ranked last among qualified running backs in yards before contact per rush attempt (1.2), it is safe to say that fixing all five positions up front is priority No. 1 for the Jets.
Luckily for Joe Douglas and company, there are a healthy number of good starters that could potentially hit the free agent market. Here is my take on how those players should be tiered.
I see this player in his own category above the rest set to hit the market.
Joe Thuney (LG, New England)
There is a stigma against signing New England offensive linemen because of the team’s continued greatness at developing that position, but Thuney is the type of player who is good enough to thrive anywhere. Ranked fifth-best among guards by PFF in 2019 and 12th in 2018, Thuney is a beast in the passing game, using his athleticism to make plays at the second level and his proficient technique to hold up for long periods of time in pass protection. If I were the Jets, Thuney would be my first target at any position once the free agency floodgates open. He is the only player on the offensive line market who meets the qualifications of talent, age, and durability that would make me feel truly comfortable about giving him a position-redefining deal.
Strong starters who will probably be overpaid relative to where they rank at their respective positions, but would arguably be worth the cost for their proven track records.
Brandon Scherff (RG, Washington)
Scherff has battled injury issues over the last three seasons (15 games missed) but he has graded out top-25 among guards in all five seasons since entering the league, including top-10 in two of the last three seasons and top-15 in each of the last three. He is particularly lauded in the run game, grading fifth-best in 2019 and fourth-best in 2017.
Graham Glasgow (LG/C/RG, Detroit)
Glasgow has the versatility to fill any position on the interior offensive line. He has started 26 games at center, 18 at left guard, and 15 at right guard, which is where he started for the duration of 2019. In 2018, Glasgow graded out at 11th among centers, and in 2019, he placed sixth among guards. The Jets are in dire need of help at all three of those spots, so Glasgow could be a perfect option for them.
Jack Conklin (RT, Tennessee)
Conklin is coming off of a season in which he ranked a career-best 12th among tackles in overall PFF grade, and topped that off with a strong playoff run in which he played a big part in Derrick Henry’s dominance. The Titans ranked second behind the Ravens in the regular season with an average of 6.1 yards per attempt on rushes directed right tackle or right end. In the playoffs, that number ballooned to an astronomical 8.5 yards per attempt. Conklin had a massively injury-plagued 2018 season, but has recorded perfect attendance in each of his other three seasons.
The decent centers
Three young centers with limited starting experience, but a track record of average/above-average performance in the role.
Connor McGovern (Denver)
McGovern took over Denver’s starting center job for Matt Paradis in 2019, and graded 10th-best at the position. He was particularly good in pass protection, ranking fifth. He was also the only qualified center that did not commit a single penalty.
Matt Skura (Baltimore)
Skura ranked 15th out of 36 qualified centers at PFF in 2019, starting 11 games before his season came to an end due to a knee injury. He was the fifth-most efficient pass protector at the position, allowing just seven pressures over 346 snaps in protection.
Ted Karras (New England)
Karras was a middle-of-the-pack starter in his first season as New England’s starting center, ranking 20th out of 39 qualifiers. He finished hot, placing sixth from Week 12 through the playoffs.
Great veteran players, but longshot to leave
Two longtime studs who I have a hard time picturing in another place.
Anthony Castonzo (Indianapolis)
Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay)
Solid fallback options
Good stopgap or plan B options.
Stefen Wisniewski (G/C, Kansas City)
Kelvin Beachum (T, Jets)
Matt Feiler (T, Pittsburgh)
Decent depth options
Last resort or quality depth options.
Quinton Spain (G, Buffalo)
A.Q. Shipley (C, Arizona)
Michael Schofield (G, Chargers)
Wes Schweitzer (G, Atlanta)
How do you think the Jets should spread their money across the free agent offensive line market? Are there any players you think were snubbed out of this piece?