The NY Jets finally dipped their toe in the free-agent waters with the addition of George Fant. Here are the top 3 things you need to know about him.
After months of anticipation, the NY Jets kicked off the first day of the legal tampering period with an absolute bang. They signed former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant to a deal. Wait who?
Is this guy Jack Conklin? Or Joe Thuney? No not even close. Conklin signed a lucrative deal with the Cleveland Browns. While Thuney surprisingly received the franchise tag from the New England Patriots.
But George Fant is a very talented dude in his own right and it’s time to trust a former offensive lineman and current general manager Joe Douglas to make these key additions this offseason.
So Gang Green pivoted and was patient, dare I say frugal. Ultimately the only signing of the day was a spot starter in Fant on a three-year deal for $30 million that features $13.7 million guaranteed.
So who the hell is this guy? We’ve got the scoop with the top three things you should know about the newest addition to the NY Jets roster.
Next: 3. Versatility
The 27-year old (will be 28 by the start of the 2020 season) is a former undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky. Versatility is the name of his game. The 6-foot-5, 322-pound lineman is a former college basketball star that made the transition to the trenches.
Fant joined the league in 2016 played in 14 games, starting 10 at left tackle. Then in 2017 missed the entire season due to a knee injury in the preseason. While that leaves much to be desired, the last two years have been exceptional.
George has played in 32 consecutive games over the last two seasons and has been used in a variety of ways. His basketball background really explains his insane athleticism and the Seattle Seahawks have often used him as a tight end and swing tackle.
If Fant returned to the Seahawks he was expected to take over the right tackle position. Instead, he signed with the Jets and is expected to protect the blindside of Sam Darnold. His experience at both left and right tackle offers the Jets a ton of flexibility with their depth chart and in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If the green and white drafts an offensive tackle with the No. 11 overall pick they can plug the other hole on the offensive line. Also, several important people inside the facilities are very high on former third-round pick Chuma Edoga and believe he “can be a building block for the future.”
With Fant in the fold, this eliminates the possibility of the team retaining free agent offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum. Over the last three years, Beachum has started 45 out of 48 possible games. He was never the best offensive tackle in the league, but he certainly was never the worst either.
Next: 2. Potential
The NY Jets had two choices during the free agency period.
They could sign a proven commodity which obviously would cost a bit more money. Or sign a guy that has potential and hope he can reach that level you expect, perhaps at a more affordable rate.
The Jets opted for the latter and George Fant is oozing potential.
Two very smart football minds commented on Gang Green’s latest addition on social media.
Former NFL general manager and current NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly said, “the Jets may have gotten one of the steals in free agency. A lot of potential.”
Although Casserly wasn’t the only expert throwing rose petals at the Jets’ feet. Jim Nagy, Executive Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, labeled the signing “intriguing”:
“Fant has unique tools and is comparable to a likely top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and he’s more ready to play than those guys.”
George Fant is intriguing signing by @nyjets GM Joe Douglas. Fant has unique tools. Comparable to likely top-10 pick in draft and he’s more ready to play.
George Fant6-5296 lbs 4.83 40-yd 37.0 VJ9’11” BJ22 reps
Tristan Wirfs6-5320 lbs4.85 40-yd36.5 VJ10’1” BJ24 reps
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 17, 2020
In free agency too often people pay players based on what they did in the past and not on what they can do in the future. It’s silly but that’s what continues to occur and it’s time for the vicious cycle to stop.
The Jets are doing their part with the signing of former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant. He’s a piece of clay the team can mold, but he does have some experience to work with (has started 24 of the 46 games he appeared in for Seattle since 2016).
Next: 1. Risk it to get the biscuit
The Jets Zone w/ @BoyGreen25 feat @RichCimini:– Fact or fiction on #TakeFlight free agency rumors.– Which FAs #Jets are trying to re-sign ahead of next week.– Joe Douglas, Ozzie Newsome relationship details.– Latest on Quinnen Williams.– Tom Brady?!https://t.co/yWFRXUrPzb
— The Jets Zone (@TheJets_Zone) March 12, 2020
1. Low risk vs high reward
A lot of offensive linemen were paid on the first day of the legal tampering period:
- Anthony Castonzo signed a two-year deal ($33 million) with the Indianapolis Colts.
- $16.5 million per season.
- Joe Thuney franchise tagged by the New England Patriots.
- $14.8 million on a one-year deal.
- Brandon Scherff franchise tagged by the Washington Redskins.
- $14.8 million on a one-year deal.
- Jack Conklin signed a three-year deal ($42 million) with the Cleveland Browns.
- $14 million per season. $30 million fully guaranteed.
- Graham Glasgow signed a four-year deal ($44 million) with the Denver Broncos.
- $11 million per season. $25 million guaranteed.
- Halapoulivaati Vaitai signed a five-year deal ($50 million) with the Detroit Lons.
- $10 million per season.
- Ereck Flowers signed a three-year deal ($30 million) with the Miami Dolphins.
- $10 million per season. $19.95 million fully guaranteed.
- Dennis Kelly signed a three-year deal ($21 million) with the Tennessee Titans.
- $7 million per season. $8.75 million guaranteed.
- Quinton Spain signed a three-year deal ($15 million) with the Buffalo Bills.
- $5 million per season.
- Wes Schweitzer signed a three-year deal ($13.5 million) with the Washington Redskins.
- $4.5 million per season.
- Rick Wagner signed a deal with the Green Bay Packers.
- Details unknown at this time.
In terms of average per year, the Jets were middle of the pack (with a $10 million per season average), but the number inside the number is the guaranteed money (only $13.7 million). That’s significantly less than some of the other big-time free agent offensive line signings on the open market.
This makes Fant the 23rd highest-paid offensive tackle (on a per-year basis), per Over The Cap. Which means this is a very low-risk deal with a high chance for reward. Those are the kinds of deals you want to make in free agency as opposed to overpaying average talent.
If he stinks, the Jets can move on from him without restricting their cap moving forward. While on the other hand if Fant pays off the team could have a cost-effective left tackle or at worst a very capable right tackle.
Here are some more details from his contract:
T George Fant’s deal with the Jets: 3 years, $27.3 million. $13.7 million guaranteed, but only $9.25 fully. Bonuses that can push it to $30M-ish. As @MMehtaNYDN said, it’s basically a 1-year, $9.25M deal with options. So low risk.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) March 17, 2020
The NY Jets offensive line required a complete overhaul this offseason and this was the first step in a layered process. While the team didn’t land one of the truly big fish in free agency, they did land a versatile and athletic offensive tackle with a ton of upside. It wasn’t sexy, but for Joe Douglas, it’s about production not sizzle and that’s the right approach to have.
Time to stop winning offseason trophies and it’s time to start contending for real ones for the green and white.