The New York Jets made a significant blunder on Tuesday by failing to secure a deal with the top available center option in free agency, Matt Paradis.
The New York Jets came out all guns blazing on the first day of the legal tampering period only to be let down with a severely disappointing second day. The Jets follow-up to their big day was highlighted by the loss of linebacker Anthony Barr who had agreed to a deal with the Jets the day prior.
But there was perhaps no loss greater than the player the Jets never even agreed to a deal with.
Former Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis reportedly agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers to a three-year, $27 million deal at the start of the new year. After being considered the favorites to land Paradis for a couple of days, this missed opportunity hurts pretty bad.
The two frontrunners for Paradis on Monday remained the Jets and division rivals the Buffalo Bills. Once the Bills opted to sign former Kansas City Chiefs center Mitch Morse, it appeared that the Jets would be a shoo-in for Paradis.
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Despite this, the 2014 sixth-round pick remained unsigned well into Tuesday afternoon and evening before the Panthers swooped in from out of nowhere and signed him.
Paradis was truly the one that got away for the Jets as this miss leaves them without a clear cut plan at the center position. On top of that, the contract he eventually would sign was far cheaper than what it was expected to be. In fact, the aforementioned Morse was signed to a longer deal, with more guaranteed money, for a higher average yearly salary.
It’s honestly mind-boggling that the Jets were unable to match that offer considering the amount of cap space they still have. Which is why a report from NFL Network seems to shed a bit of light on the confusing issue.
The #Jets and #Broncos were in on Matt Paradis, who chose the #Panthers instead. If they still want to go the veteran route, one name to remember is ex-#Rams C John Sullivan. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/PWYO8NI7tI
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 12, 2019
The Jets reportedly were the ones who backed out on a potential deal for Paradis which is equally perplexing as it is concerning. If reports are to be believed, the Jets never had as much interest as was initially believed which again doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
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Paradis was widely regarded as the top offensive line option on the market and after missing on Morse, there is no feasible option remaining for the Jets. The team recently re-signed versatile interior lineman Jonotthan Harrison and while he started eight games last season, he hardly represents a reliable starting option.
The remaining options on the free agent market are scarce with aging veteran John Sullivan and preseason roster cut Travis Swanson serving as two of the top options left. The Jets could also look to the NFL Draft for a replacement but with the team highly unlikely to spend a premium pick on the position, it’s difficult to bank on hitting on a mid-round interior lineman prospect.
Essentially, it was Paradis or bust at the end. And for some reason, the Jets didn’t feel that he was worth the money.
It’s an egregiously puzzling decision and one that could leave the Jets in quite the bind come 2019. The team already did their due diligence acquiring Kelechi Osemele from the Oakland Raiders to fill their hole at left guard. However, the center position remains unsolved.
Ultimately, the Jets made solidifying the offensive line a much more difficult task by passing on a top-tier free agent option who ended up signing for significantly less than expected.
Not an ideal note from what appeared to be a promising free agent haul not too long ago.