The NY Jets seem to be intent on keeping around right guard Brian Winters for another year. However, that should ultimately be seen as a mistake.
The NY Jets are prepared to do a lot of work in the offseason as they completely reshape their offensive line after an abysmal 2019 season. And one player who could be replaced is veteran guard Brian Winters.
Winters is the second-longest tenured player on the team behind running back Bilal Powell and he’s served as the Jets’ starting right guard for the better part of the last seven years.
Yes, it’s really been that long.
Over that time, Winters has seen his fair share of ups and downs and he’s also battled through a number of injuries. The Kent State product infamously played through nearly the entirety of the 2018 season with a torn abdominal muscle before eventually ending up on the injured reserve.
And just this past season, Winters dislocated his shoulder and played through the injury before ultimately dislocating it again and finding himself on the IR once more.
Winters played nine games with the Jets in 2019 and finished with a below-average 62.4 Pro Football Focus grade. This came on the heels of a poor showing in 2018 in which he managed a near-identical 62.6 PFF grade.
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Again, he struggled with injuries in both seasons, but it’s hard to justify that level of play — especially at his cap hit.
Winters is due to make just under $7.5 million in 2020, but the Jets could move on at any point this offseason without incurring any dead cap. On the surface, it seems like an easy decision to cut him.
The Jets are looking to revamp their offensive line in the offseason and they could use that additional cap space to sign his replacement in free agency. Players like Joe Thuney or Graham Glasgow would undoubtedly be upgrades over Winters — both from a talent and durability perspective.
However, recent comments made by general manager Joe Douglas seem to indicate the team’s desire to keep him.
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
Douglas indicated that his rehab his going well and praised him in stating that he was the only Week 1 starter on the offensive line still under contract this upcoming season.
That sure sounds like they plan on keeping him.
Of course, it could just be a case of a general manager hyping up his players while they’re still under contract. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But either way, there is no way that the Jets can keep Winters around in 2020 under his current contract. That leaves the team with two viable options — either flat out release him or release him and bring him back on a cheaper deal.
Keeping Winters on his near $7.5 million cap hit would be counterproductive to the Jets’ entire plan to reshape the offensive line in the offseason. He’s coming off two injury-riddled, disappointing campaigns and will be overpriced next season.
Considering the Jets could cut ties without any penalty whatsoever, it seems like a no-brainer.
The Jets could upgrade over Winters and they could use the money saved by releasing him to sign his replacement.
He’s served the Jets well over the past seven years and he’s as tough as any player in the league, but the team must do what’s right and move on from Brian Winters’ contract this offseason.