The NY Jets will have a few decisions to make regarding their offensive line in the offseason and one of the key ones will be whether or not to re-sign Alex Lewis.
Lewis was originally acquired by the team back in August as part of a last-ditch effort by general manager Joe Douglas to improve the offensive line before the start of the season.
The Jets sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Lewis and it proved to be one of Douglas’ finest moves early in his Jets tenure. And really, it was one of the only things that the new general manager could do.
The roster was constructed in the offseason without his guidance meaning that he was more or less stuck with the team he inherited. Trading for Lewis was one of his summer dart throws that actually panned out.
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After an injury and the subsequent release of Kelechi Osemele, Lewis would take over the starting left guard job, starting 12 games for the team down the stretch. And while he was nothing special, he did provide a level of consistency.
Pro Football Focus gave him a below-average 56.1 grade which is indicative of exactly what Lewis is. He’s a low-tier starting option and excellent depth to have on any roster.
But with Lewis set to hit the open market, will the Jets opt to bring him back?
Should the Jets re-sign him?
The Jets likely aren’t going to keep very many offensive linemen that were on the team in 2019 around for 2020. But Lewis is absolutely someone the Jets should consider re-signing.
The 27-year-old got off to a hot start stepping up for the loss of Osemele and while his level of play dipped in subsequent weeks, he still provided stability on a very unstable offensive line.
That said, he’ll likely want to be given a starting role — whether that’s with the Jets or not. Lewis has started 30 of 35 games in his career and will likely demand low-end starter money.
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If the Jets are content holding on to Brian Winters and his $7.5 million cap hit as recent words from Douglas would indicate, then re-signing Lewis to be the other starting guard makes little sense.
In an ideal scenario, the Jets should cut Winters and free up some cap space, sign one of the above guards, and consider going into 2020 with Lewis and a free-agent pickup starting at guard.
But it remains to be seen if that’s exactly what they’ll do.
Will the Jets re-sign him?
Alex Lewis actually has a lot going for him.
He is one of the few players on the roster who were legitimate Joe Douglas acquisitions which should help him out in the long run. Plus his price tag would be smaller than Winters’ 2020 cap hit and whatever free agents they could target.
That said, his fate will likely depend on what the team decides to do with Winters. At this point, it seems pretty clear that the Jets are going to sign an offensive guard in free agency. That means that it’s either Lewis or Winters.
Douglas’ recent comments seem to indicate that the Jets would choose Winters.
Joe Douglas hinted strongly the Jets will bring back RG Brian Winters in 2020, even though his contract ($7.5 million) isn't guaranteed. Douglas touted Winters as last year's only Week 1 o-line starter under contract in 2020 & said his rehab (shoulder surgery) is going well.
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) February 25, 2020
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
It’s a press conference — Douglas is going to talk up his players no matter what. His comments don’t mean that Winters is fully safe for the foreseeable future even if he seems to have given the veteran guard a bode of confidence.
Despite these comments, I’m still betting that the Jets free up some much-needed cap space and cut ties with Winters. In that scenario, bringing back Alex Lewis seems likely.
But there’s too much uncertainty here to be confident in that prediction.
Odds of re-signing: 55%