New York Jets center Ryan Kalil is a pending free agent in 2020. Here are 3 potential replacements via free agency, trade, and the Draft.
It’s been no secret that the New York Jets have straight up neglected their offensive line for the better part of the last 14 years. Due to that, the green and white have occasionally been forced to pull off some crazy stunts to make up for the talent gap.
One of those crazy maneuvers was one of the first made by second-year general manager Joe Douglas when he convinced former All-Pro center Ryan Kalil out of retirement late last Summer.
After spending 12 marvelous seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Kalil decided to hang it up. But after the Jets gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse: a one-year deal for $8.4 million.
The late addition threw off the chemistry of the team’s offensive line and Ryan showed up out of shape. On top of those factors, Kalil just played poorly and when he was injured the team was happy to slap him on injured reserve ending his season.
The New York Jets were spoiled the last couple of decades with Kevin Mawae (Pro Football Hall of Famer) and Nick Mangold (future Ring of Honor member) at the position. Now they need to try and find a long-term solution this offseason.
We continue our series providing three potential replacements for each of the Jets’ top pending free agents. Here are the top three replacements that the team should explore this offseason through free agency, trade market, and the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 3. Free agency
The center class is super underwhelming heading into the 2020 free agency period. So this won’t be a sexy addition, but it could prove to be an effective one for the green and white.
A.Q. Shipley is an elder statemen at 33 years of age (will be 34 by the start of the 2020 season), but despite his age, he’s been super durable. In three of the last four seasons Shipley has played and started in all 16 games, he missed the 2018 season due to a torn ACL injury.
In his 10 year career, he’s played for five different NFL teams (Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts (in two different stints), Baltimore Ravens, and the Arizona Cardinals). He’s headed for free agency after a very solid 2019 campaign protecting rookie sensation Kyler Murray.
While his age is a big turn off, he can be a short term solution who can solve the problem for now while the team searches for a long term answer. Also, he wouldn’t be expensive, last year with Arizona he made $2 million which is chump change for a starting offensive lineman.
Next: 2. Trade
The trade market is always an interesting place to hang out and watch the names that come and go. If a player is on the block it’s usually for a reason: contract dispute, injury-prone, failed expectations, etc.
The New York Jets should seriously kick the tires on a former 2018 first-round pick that hasn’t worked out with the Cincinnati Bengals. Billy Price is a 25-year old Ohio boy born and raised who ended up going to play for his hometown Ohio State Buckeyes.
After a marvelous college career where he earned All-American, All-Big Ten honors, and the Rimington Trophy which is annually doled out to the nation’s top center prospect he got drafted by his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. Sounds like a match made in heaven right?
Well, the injury bug had other plans.
In two seasons in the pros, the Bengals first-round star missed six games as a rookie and only started eight games in 2019.
The player is still young enough to take a gamble on and the Jets need to give a facelift to their offensive line with more talented players and younger players. Price would check off all of those boxes for the green and white.
Next: 1. 2020 NFL Draft
Interior offensive linemen aren’t as heralded as offensive tackles, which means you can get some really good interior guys later than normal. This is great news for the Jets who have a high second-round pick that they can cash in on Oklahoma Sooners center Creed Humphrey during the 2020 NF Draft.
The Jets should select several linemen in the upcoming draft to try and make up for years of ineptitude. Selecting Humphrey would go a long way to fixing the team’s issues.
The 6-foot-5, 316-pound center can plug and play in the middle as soon as he’s drafted. The center position is super important for a variety of reasons: they make the protection calls, they have a special bond with the quarterback, and they’re the central point of the trenches.
Creed has a wrestling background that gives him a competitive advantage in the middle and allows him to anchor things down. His tape speaks for itself, he’s just a phenomenal football player who has an impressive track record considering all the talented quarterbacks he’s had the pleasure of working with.
Considering the trade market you’ll have to give up an asset and the free agency class is pretty weak, the 2020 NFL Draft continues to look like the best direction for the New York Jets to go this offseason. You’d be able to draft a young, cheap player that you can bring into your program and develop for the present and the future.