The NY Jets picked up their best free agent of the 2020 offseason in center Connor McGovern. Here are the top 3 things you need to know about him.
The NY Jets have had a clear plan early on in free agency: fix the offensive line. It’s been something that general manager Joe Douglas has said in every available interview, press conference, and media opportunity: “the offensive line will be a priority every year that I’m running this operation.”
As a former offensive lineman for the Richmond Spiders, Joe Douglas understands the importance of a strong front line. It is the key to unlocking the entire offense. An offensive line can lead to a rejuvenated Le’Veon Bell and most importantly a brand new Sam Darnold.
Earlier this week the Jets scooped up their best free agent to date with the addition of former Denver Broncos center Connor McGovern. The 26-year old (will be 27 by the start of the 2020 season) is a plug and play dude that instantly improves the Jets offensive line.
He signed a three-year deal for $27 million with $18 million fully guaranteed. It was the richest deal of any free agent that Douglas decided to sign this offseason.
So what does he bring to the table? Here are the top three things you need to know about Gang Green’s newest player on offense.
Next: 3. Versatility
3. Positional versatility creates flexibility on draft day
Connor McGovern is being brought in as the new center for the NY Jets. Last season the team originally planned on Jonotthan Harrison being the guy. Then late during the preseason, the team pivoted to former All-Pro center Ryan Kalil.
Kalil coming in late to replace Harrison apparently rubbed a lot of Jets players the wrong way. Also with him coming in so late, Kalil wasn’t able to create chemistry with the team’s offensive line. Eventually, Ryan Kalil got injured and was out for the year.
Harrison did a serviceable job of stepping in, but he didn’t inspire much confidence as the long-term answer. Now the NY Jets don’t have to worry about the center spot because McGovern is the new guy.
Although perhaps he won’t even play center for the Jets? ESPN’s Rich Cimini says the NY Jets “aren’t married to Connor playing center.” He also can play right guard and that opens up the possibilities for Gang Green this offseason.
Ultimately Joe Douglas can play the best starting five, whatever that ends up being by the time the 2020 season rolls around. Things could still change on draft day, but the team will be prepared for any and all of those scenarios thanks to the versatility of McGovern and the other linemen on the roster.
Next: 2. Best center since Mangold?
2. Best center since Nick Mangold?
Believe it or not, Nick Mangold’s last season in the NFL and with the NY Jets came four years ago back in 2016. He was a pillar of consistency for 11 remarkable seasons and protected the blindside of countless Gang Green quarterbacks.
Since he left the league, the Jets have been drowning in the trenches. Here’s another fun fact, speaking of Mangold, the green and white haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since they double dipped back in 2006 with D’Brickashaw Ferguson and the aforementioned Mangold.
Could the Jets latest addition in free agency be the best center the team has had since Nick Mangold? On the latest episode of the Flight Deck Podcast, Rich Cimini explained why he feels so confident:
“I think McGovern will be the best center the Jets have had since Nick Mangold. He’s a steadying influence that’ll be really good in pass protection and he’s an okay run blocker. This wasn’t a cheap contract either, Connor ranks 11th in the league in annual average salary for a center.
I heard Joe Douglas just really liked Connor McGovern and wanted to bring him in. A good center can do so much for an offensive line and can elevate the other guys around him.”
This dude is reliable and that’s what the Jets need. Last season he started all 16 games for the Denver Broncos. Also, another area that he can help in is his clean game. Connor played over 600 snaps last year and didn’t commit a single penalty.
After all the years of ineptitude, it’s about time the NY Jets can rely on someone to not only get the job done but to do it cleanly. If the green and white can get half the player that Nick Mangold was, the team will be in very capable hands.
Next: 1. Joe Douglas strategy?
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. Joe Douglas has a pair of fetishes (value and versatility)
We didn’t know much about Joe Douglas heading into this offseason. Despite it being year No. 2 under his leadership, all we’ve heard is talk in interviews and press conferences. Finally, during free agency, we got to see some action.
When he’s ventured away from the team, Douglas had opted for under the radar signings. That includes offensive tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern.
What’s the commonality among all these players? Two things stand out.
Douglas clearly drew a line in the sand for every free agent. Each player has a certain value and if the contract falls in that range Joe will sign that guy, if not, he’ll move on. So far, so good on every signing.
Joe Douglas continues to not only get a good value on all these contracts, but he also gets the most bang for his buck. Hewitt can play multiple linebacker positions, Lewis can play both guard spots, Fant can play both tackle spots, and McGovern can lay anywhere on the interior.
As we discussed earlier, versatility provides flexibility and options on draft day. Also when you consider all the injuries in 2019, it can only help if players know how to play multiple positions. If someone drops due to injury someone else can slide over to minimize the damage.
Douglas early on has given NY Jets fans a great first impression with his patience, his standards, and his sterling reputation.