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Jets made the right move releasing Spencer Long

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Isaiah Crowell #20 of the New York Jets celebrates his touchdown with Spencer Long #61 and Jordan Leggett #86 of the New York Jets during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Crowell was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Isaiah Crowell #20 of the New York Jets celebrates his touchdown with Spencer Long #61 and Jordan Leggett #86 of the New York Jets during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Crowell was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets have officially announced the release of center Spencer Long voiding his $3 million roster bonus. This was ultimately the right decision for the team going forward.

Earlier today, the New York Jets officially announced that they have released center Spencer Long from his contract. This move not only allows the team to avoid paying Long his $3 million guaranteed roster bonus but also saves the team the entire $6.5 million that they would have owed him for this upcoming season.

The Jets originally signed Long this past offseason to a four-year $27.4 million contract but gave themselves an out in case his play didn’t live up to his contract. As it stands, it appears that that’s just what happened.

Long was signed to be an upgrade over the Jets 2017 starting center, Wesley Johnson, and while he may have been a slight improvement, his play was certainly nothing inspiring. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 37 center with a grade of 45.4 which places him at the level of a backup caliber player.

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The former Washington Redskin was likely hindered for part of the season with a nagging finger injury that cost him three regular season games. This injury is likely what many fans will remember him for as former head coach Todd Bowles‘ reluctance to pull Long from the game essentially cost the team a loss and injured rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

Long did perform marginally better when he was moved to left guard upon his return from injury but the slight improvement clearly wasn’t enough to convince the team to keep him on his current deal.

Now, it isn’t as if the Jets have officially parted ways with Long for good. There is still a decent chance that they could bring him back on a cheaper contract if there’s mutual interest. Long could return and compete for a starting spot at either guard or center or simply serve as very good depth.

The Jets will likely be active in free agency — now with just about $100 million in cap space — and should look to the draft to add at least one offensive line piece as well. But with blatant holes at both left guard and center, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the team re-sign him to an inexpensive, “prove-it” type deal.

Either way, this release allows the team to explore their options. It allows them to free up cap that was initially tied down to Long and gives them a chance to use it elsewhere in free agency. And it allows them to save money and retain Long, albeit on a much more team-friendly deal.

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The initial signing may have backfired, but at least the Jets made the best of a bad situation and righted their wrongs.

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