NY Jets: Alternative options after missing out on Jack Conklin
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have officially missed out on the Jack Conklin sweepstakes with the former All-Pro offensive tackle being signed by the Cleveland Browns. What other options do they have?
The NY Jets have been quiet on all fronts to start the legal tampering period of free agency. And in doing so, they’ve already missed out on a number of top offensive line targets.
The first of which came just before the start of free agency when it was announced that the New England Patriots had placed the franchise tag on offensive guard Joe Thuney in a move that caught many by surprise.
The Jets couldn’t do anything about that, but they needed to pivot to alternative options. The other huge name on the free-agent market was offensive tackle Jack Conklin who the team had reportedly shown interest in.
However, the former Tennessee Titans lineman has reportedly signed with the Cleveland Browns meaning that another name has been crossed off the Jets’ free-agent wish list.
Conklin was widely expected to receive a contract worth up to $18 million per season. However, when the dust settled, the Browns reportedly signed him to a three-year, $42 million contract worth just $14 million APY.
It was a surprise to many, but even more surprising is the fact that the Jets never seemed to have as much interest as anticipated. Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports that the Jets never offered Conklin a contract that exceeded that.
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They never made a serious run at him.
So what now? With free agents being signed left and right, where do the Jets stand? What are their options?
For starters, signing Graham Glasgow remains a must at this stage. Glasgow is the top lineman remaining and the durable Michigan product has the versatility to play both guard and center. The Jets would reportedly ask him to play center.
But that wouldn’t be enough. Of course, there is still discussion that the Jets would like to re-sign Alex Lewis who was fine in a limited starting role last season. But the Jets need more significant upgrades and there are a few ways they could still do it.
For starters, Gang Green remains very much in the market for a Trent Williams trade. The veteran offensive tackle has made seven Pro Bowls in a row but missed all of last season with injury troubles and a contract dispute.
He makes sense as a short-term option who is still playing at a high level.
But if the Jets aren’t willing to give anything up in a trade, then perhaps signing another veteran in Jason Peters could make sense. Peters may be 38-years-old, but he’s still playing at an elite level.
Of course, neither of these options would be long-term fixes — which is why this would likely be paired with drafting an offensive tackle at No. 11 overall. Perhaps that player could fill in at guard in the short-term before kicking outside to tackle.
Either way, the Jets’ options are more limited now — especially with the recent signing of former Philadelphia Eagles swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai — but they still exist.
Williams and Peters are both excellent, albeit aging options who would absolutely serve as upgrades. But with Thuney and Conklin off the market, the Jets must continue to pivot.