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Free Agency

Jets Free Agency: Initial grade and analysis of Spencer Long

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a third quarter touchdown with teammates tackle Trent Williams #71 and guard Spencer Long #61 against the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a third quarter touchdown with teammates tackle Trent Williams #71 and guard Spencer Long #61 against the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets added a much-needed upgrade to their offensive line with the signing of center Spencer Long, a former teammate of a familiar free agent target.

The New York Jets may not have signed Kirk Cousins, but they got his center. Former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Spencer Long agreed to a contract with the Jets and should immediately serve as the team’s starting center, and an upgrade at that. While Long has experience playing guard, the Jets already have set starters at that position with the incumbent James Carpenter and Brian Winters set to open the season at the top of the depth chart.

The Jets were in desperate need of an improvement as last year’s starter, Wesley Johnson, struggled mightily finishing the season ranked as the 35th best center per Pro Football Focus. Considering there are only 32 starting centers in the league, that’s not too good.

Long has his fair share of injury concerns but if healthy, the Nebraska product should serve to be a significant step-up from Johnson.

Contract details

Spencer signed a four-year/$28 million contract with the Jets.

National reaction

#Jets adding center Spencer Long, as first reported by NFL Network. He’ll turn 28 in November. Center spot hurt NYJ OL last year. Long an upgrade after Jets missed out on Weston Richburg.

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) March 14, 2018

#Jets good signing in Spencer Long, he's one of the NFL's more athletic centers.

— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) March 14, 2018

#Jets have agreed to a deal with former Redskins C Spencer Long, a source confirmed (as @JasonLaCanfora said). He also can play guard. Finished season on IR (surgery for quad tendon).

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 14, 2018

Grade

As it stands, Long should certainly be an upgrade over Johnson who proved that he wasn’t the ultimate successor to long-time great Nick Mangold the team hoped he would be. At the same time, there were definitely better options on the market and it remains to be seen if the Jets came away with the best deal or not.

More from Free Agency

Weston Richburg and Ryan Jensen were two names connected to the Jets but the former was signed away by the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday and the latter will likely demand a hefty sum. Jensen is probably the closest to a sure-thing the Jets could’ve landed but given his age and upside, his market was likely pretty high.

Instead, the Jets came away with Long who is an athletic, versatile lineman who’s still in the midst of his prime. Long’s injury history likely scared some teams away but his speed and zone blocking ability should be a good scheme fit for the Jets if he could stay healthy.

Ultimately, the Jets needed to improve at the center position and they did, albeit with the risky signing of a player with a lengthy injury list.

Final Grade: B-

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