The New York Jets can move on from guard Brian Winters this offseason. Here are the top five replacements available in 2020.
Things have reached rock bottom for the New York Jets. Despite getting a win on Sunday vs the New York Giants, the team is still 2-7 and unlikely to snap their postseason drought.
This isn’t the first injury of Winters’ professional career. Since being taken in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft, Brian has missed parts of four different seasons due to injury. In total, he has already missed 16 games and if he misses the rest of 2019 it’ll be 23 contests.
By the start of the 2020 season, Brian Winters will be 29 years old with a history of injuries. If the Jets want they can get out of his contract at the end of 2019. The Jets would save the entirety of his $7.5 million cap charge with zero dead cap.
So far this season, the Jets have given up 39 sacks, which is the second-highest mark in the NFL. If the team moves on from Winters they’ll have to replace him with someone. Fortunately, the 2020 free-agent period has a slew of available options.
Here are the top five replacements that could replace Brian Winters next season for the green and white.
Next: 5. Former Super Bowl champion
Bryan Bulaga has only played for one team in his NFL career and that’s the Green Bay Packers. Back in 2010, he was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
At Iowa, he was a Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year at guard. Bulaga also earned conference honors in 2008 and 2009 as a first-team and second-team all-Big Ten.
Although when he was drafted he made the transition to offensive tackle.
While this is an article looking for guard replacements for Brian Winters, Bulaga could slide back inside at guard or the team could sign him as a tackle, because they need help there too.
Bryan is set to be a free agent after the 2019 season.
The bad news is Bulaga hasn’t played a full season since 2016. Over the last two years, he has missed a grand total of 13 games, but so far in 2019, he has started every game for Green Bay.
When healthy he has proven to be a steadying presence at 30 years of age. The Packers are in the middle of the pack this season in sacks allowed (16th in the league).
Next: 4. Young option from NFC South
If the New York Jets want to go a bit younger with their free agency spending money then perhaps Andrus Peat is the answer to their offensive line issues.
Peat is another player who comes from a high pedigree as a former first-round draft choice. Back in 2015, he was the 13th overall pick out of Stanford.
A super athletic player who has a deep background in not only football but track and basketball as well. As a senior, he led his hoops squad to a D1 state championship as the starting center.
While in track and field, Peat was a shot putter and discus thrower. Coming out of high school he was a five-star recruit at tackle but made the transition to guard at the next level.
Peat is only 26 years old and still has a lot of room for growth. Which is crazy to think about for a guy that stands in at 6-foot-7, weighing in at 316 pounds.
While he’s never started a full 16 game slate in his short career, not all of it is his fault. He started his career as a backup then worked his way into the starting lineup before suffering some injuries over the last several years.
Next: 3. AFC East rival
There’s always a little something extra when you can steal a player from an arch-rival in your division. There’d be nothing sweeter for the Jets than to steal Joe Thuney from the New England Patriots so he can protect Sam Darnold instead of Tom Brady.
There’s actually been a long history between the Jets and Patriots with players hopping between sides.
From 1993 through 2008 there have been at least 50 players that have played for both the New York Jets and the New England Patriots during that span.
Some of the most notable players to play for both sides include:
- Shaun Ellis
- Victor Green
- David Harris
- Ty Law
- Curtis Martin
- Darrelle Revis
- Vinny Testaverde
- Damien Woody
- Danny Woodhead
This list features Ring of Honor members, Pro Football Hall of Famers, and role players alike. Could Joe Thuney be the latest to join the list?
It can always be tricky taking players from New England because Bill Belichick is like Las Vegas, if a betting line comes out that seems too good to be true, it probably is. With that in mind, why would a 26-year old superstar guard suddenly shake free from the Patriots?
No clue, but if he does the Jets should be all over it. Thuney has NEVER missed a game in his four-year NFL career. On top of his durability, he also has two Super Bowl championships thanks to the Patriots. Not bad for a former third-round pick out of NC State.
Next: 2. Versatile NFC North option
Versatility is the name of the game and the Jets organization should do what it takes to bring in a savvy veteran into their locker room this offseason. Kyle Long certainly checks off a lot of the things you look for in the trenches.
The three-time Pro Bowler still has gas left in the tank at 30 years of age plus he can play both guard and tackle.
One of the most intriguing things about Long is his versatility and athleticism.
In his first year at community college, he played on the defensive line. He then transferred to a more prominent college in Oregon (and switched to the offensive line). Despite some of his personal issues in college, he was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, he earned all kinds of accolades from a Pro Bowl appearance to PFF’s All-Rookie Team. Then In 2015, he switched to tackle and made another Pro Bowl. Then due to injury, he slid back into guard for the Chicago Bears.
When you consider the array of injuries the Jets have suffered on the offensive line this season at literally every position, they could use one, two, and maybe three Kyle Longs.
Over the last handful of years, the injury bug has cost Kyle Long some significant action.
Since 2016 Long has missed 34 games, which is a cause for concern. At the end of the 2019 season, the Bears have a team option on his contract. With him being placed on injured reserve in October there’s serious question marks whether the team will bring him back for the 2020 campaign.
Next: 1. Best available from NFC East
If the Jets want Brandon Scherff, it’s going to cost the bank. Per Spotrac’s market value projection, Brandon is worth $12.4 million per season, which would rank third-most among guards. It also projects that Brandon could earn a four-year deal for just under $50 million.
Although according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, the team has already offered him a long-term deal that exceeds $13 million per season, which would put him near the top of the market. It seems like Scherff is “determined” to reach free agency and will inevitably become the highest-paid guard in the league.
That honor currently belongs to Pro Bowl Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin who signed a six-year $84 million contract which averages out at $14 million per season. Expect Brandon to exceed that number in 2020.
Over the years the Jets have dumped so much unnecessary money into a variety of positions, why wouldn’t you pay up for a premium player when granted the opportunity?
Brandon Scherff was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, which should sound familiar because that was one pick before the Jets selected Leonard Williams with the sixth overall pick in that same draft.
The Jets recently shipped off Williams for a slew of draft picks, essentially waving the white flag on his lack of success. While on the other side, Brandon has more than lived up to the hype.
In both 2016 and 2017, he was voted to the Pro Bowl and as a rookie was voted to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team.
He has experience playing both tackle and guard, although primarily he’s played guard in the NFL.
After seeing how the Trent Williams saga, Brandon wants to get out of Washington as soon as physically possible. Expect the Jets to move all the chips into the middle of the table for him.