The New York Jets will have a number of decisions to make on key free agents this offseason, but they should make re-signing left tackle Kelvin Beachum a top priority.
Before free agency arrives and the NFL Draft is upon us, the Jets will have a few very important decisions to make regarding some in-house free agents. Players like Robby Anderson, Jordan Jenkins, and Brian Poole are all set to hit the open market and should draw some interest.
But Beachum is one player who seems to have been a bit overlooked by the Jets faithful.
Perhaps this is a product of individuals grouping him in with the rest of an abysmal offensive line group in 2019. Or perhaps this is a product of not really knowing what you have until it’s gone.
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But in 2019, Kelvin Beachum was actually pretty solid.
Beachum finished with a very respectable 67.1 Pro Football Focus grade which was far and away the highest grade among offensive linemen on the team. The next highest lineman on the team was right guard Brian Winters who checked in with a below-average 62.4 grade.
Beachum’s grade would actually place him right around league-average which is something the Jets are desperately searching for from their offensive line.
On the contrary, right tackle Chuma Edoga finished with a woeful 48.9 grade placing him among the worst in the NFL. It would seem foolish to go into next year counting on the second-year tackle as a starter.
For that reason, bringing Beachum back remains a must.
The Jets will undoubtedly do some major work to reshape their offensive line in the offseason, but it’s unrealistic to expect four or five new starters.
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One of either Brian Winters (easy out in his contract) or Alex Lewis (unrestricted free agent) will likely be brought back and retaining both Beachum and Edoga would make sense too. That would mean you could go into the offseason planning to bring in maybe three new offensive line starters.
The tentative plan, of course, would be that one of the top three offensive tackle options would be available in the 2020 NFL Draft. If that’s the case, the Jets could continue to play Beachum at left tackle or move him to right tackle while the rookie starts at the other position.
Of course, the long-term plan could still be for Edoga to take over for Beachum, but it’s clear he’s not ready for that role yet.
Contrary to what many may believe, Beachum is not someone who could be easily replaced. The level of offensive line play around the league is at an all-time low and teams don’t let their top options hit the market very often without a caveat.
So if the Jets are willing to let Beachum walk, they’ll likely be counting on Edoga — who ranked among the worst offensive linemen in the league last year — as a starting option.
That plan has disaster written all over it.
You could both re-sign Beachum and remake the offensive line while also planning for the future at the position. After all, the eight-year veteran will be 31-years-old in 2020 and he isn’t the long-term solution.
But Beachum’s importance to the Jets has been understated to this point and hopefully the Jets see that. Gang Green went 7-6 with Beachum in the lineup in 2019 and 0-3 without him — further proof of his significance.
Like it or not, Kelvin Beachum is as good of a starting option as the Jets are going to get in 2020 and re-signing him in the offseason should remain a top priority.