Donald Thomas: A Low Cost Free Agent Option for the New York Jets


Sept. 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots guard Donald Thomas (64) waits for quarterback Tom Brady (12) to call a play change during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

We have a lot of things to discuss when it comes to the Jets. How is the quarterback situation going to resolve itself? What is going to happen with Darrelle Revis? Will he be traded? What about Cromartie? Are the Jets going to be able to bring LaRon Landry back? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered between now and the time minicamp opens.

One question that doesn’t get a lot of discussion is the offensive guard question. Both Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore are free agents. They have Vladimir Ducasse waiting in the wings, so….OK don’t all get excited at once. He scares us all. They might very well be priced out of keeping Brandon Moore around, as he is 32 years old and made $4,000,000 per year on his last contract with the Jets. A hometown discount might be the only way to keep him around.

There is a lot of talk about the Jets addressing this position with their first pick of the draft in April, the 9th overall. If you believe a lot of the Mock Drafts, Chance Warmack from Alabama will be available when the Jets choice comes up. The question is, do you commit a high first round pick to an offensive guard? There are a lot of arguments for doing it, as many say that Warmack should be able to anchor an offensive line for the next decade.

To me, as I have noted before, 9th overall is very high to commit to the guard position. For one, even with the new rookie salary schedule, the Jets would have to commit a lot of money to a lineman that doesn’t play left tackle. Secondly, you don’t NEED to draft that high to pick a guard, case and point being Brandon Moore. He was undrafted, and has been a major cog in the Jets offensive line for years. My opinion is that the #9 pick could be used for more of a skilled position such as an edge pass rusher, as there should be some special ones available when the Jets choose.

So, how do the Jets address this problem at the guard position? A low cost, high reward option might just be an unrestricted free agent from the enemy, the New England Patriots. Meet, my friends, Donald Thomas.

Turn the page, and we will talk about how he graded out compared to Matt Slauson.

Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Donald Thomas (64) during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets guard Matt Slauson (68) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 28-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

First thing to note is that Thomas played some at left and right guard in 2012, making him a bit more versatile than Slauson who played all of his games at left guard. (Note:Thomas didn’t start every game in 2012 as Slauson did, we will talk about that as we move forward.)

In 614 snaps, Thomas posted an overall PFF grade of 10.2, compared to Slauson, who posted a 2.5 in 834 overall snaps. Thomas only started 7 games, but we will look at how he performed in those games in a bit. In run blocking, Thomas obliterated Slauson with a grade of 7.8, to Slauson’s measley -4.2. Donald could show us a thing or two about screen pass blocking, with a 1.5 grade in that area.

The only major area that Slauson out-performed Thomas was in pass blocking, 5.1 to 1.1, although they allowed the same amount of sacks (1), and hurries (9), while Slauson gave up two more QB hits (4) than Thomas (2). There clearly isn’t a lot of debate here, Thomas has a bunch of ability.

But what about the starting issue? Can Donald Thomas hack it as a starting lineman in this league? Well, let’s examine how he graded out when he started.

In the 7 games that Thomas started, he posted a 1.6, 0.0, 2.9, 1.6, 1.3, 2.2, 2.9, bringing him to a 12.5 rating as a starter.

Finally, he only made $750,000 last year. Matt Slauson made $1,050,000. Even if Thomas got a raise to the money Slauson got, the Jets would get a lot more bang for their buck with Donald Thomas.

The Jets could take Warmack in the first round. But, they might have a more cost effective option in Donald Thomas. They should definitely take a look.