The NY Jets should target these three offensive linemen in 2021 free agency.
But one position that was a focus last offseason that mustn’t be ignored in 2021 is the offensive line.
General manager Joe Douglas made the offensive line a “priority” in his first offseason with the team. However, just as the strategy was to shop cheap with the remainder of the roster, the same strategy was employed with the offensive line.
The Jets settled for second-tier free agents such as George Fant and Greg Van Roten and while there was some optimism surrounding the acquisition of center Connor McGovern, the move wasn’t exactly high-profile.
The offensive line has been better in 2020, perhaps due in part to the play of rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton. But there’s still plenty of work to be done and the upcoming free agency period could be another opportunity for Douglas to address the position group.
Instead, of cheap, second-rate free agents, maybe this time Douglas and the Jets decide it’s time to spend a little.
And if that’s the case, here are three very notable (and not cheap) offensive linemen they could target this March.
Next: 3. Taylor Moton
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
3. The NY Jets should target OT Taylor Moton
George Fant has been a serviceable, albeit unspectacular solution at right tackle. And although he was signed to a three-year, $30 million contract last offseason, the Jets could realistically get out of the deal with very little dead cap if they want to.
And if a player like Taylor Moton becomes available, they might just choose to do so.
A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Moton took over as the Carolina Panthers’ starting right tackle in 2018 and never looked back.
The Western Michigan product was ranked as a top-17 offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus in each of his first two seasons as a starter and has put together an even more impressive 2020 scoring a fantastic 82.6 grade which ranks ninth at his position.
Moton has somewhat flown under the radar to this point, but he’s due for a massive payday this offseason which should help earn him some more leaguewide attention.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
The Panthers will likely do everything they can to re-sign him and there’s a good chance that the franchise tag is used if the two sides can’t come to a long-term agreement.
But given that Moton is just 26-years-old and one of the best right tackles in football, the Jets should do absolutely everything they can to sign him if he somehow hits the open market.
He’s not the most likely option, but it’s a no-brainer if the opportunity presents itself.
Next: 2. Brandon Scherff
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
2. The NY Jets should target OG Brandon Scherff
The bulk of the Jets’ offseason focus on the offensive line should come with the interior. And one high-profile player who could fill that void in free agency is veteran guard Brandon Scherff.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Scherff has been considered one of the best guards in the NFL for quite some time now. When on the field, few are as dominant at his position as he is.
Unfortunately, injuries have been a concern for Scherff as he’s missed time in each of the last four seasons. Still, there’s no denying his talent when healthy.
Scherff has made the Pro Bowl in three of his last four seasons and has never finished with a PFF ranking below 21st at his position. That level of consistency over a six-year stretch is truly remarkable.
He’s finished top-10 at his position twice in his career and is on pace for a third time in 2020. Needless to say, he’s due for a substantial payday in the offseason.
Washington franchise-tagged Scherff this past offseason to keep him on the team, but it’s unlikely they do so again this year. And with a long-term extension appearing unlikely as well, there’s a good chance he hits the open market.
If he does, expect the Jets (and many other teams) to be all over that. Of course, the durability concerns could steer the Jets or other teams away, but few guards are as talented as Scherff is.
This would be a home-run signing even in spite of the injury concerns.
Next: 1. Joe Thuney
1. The NY Jets should target OG Joe Thuney
If Scherff isn’t the most notable offensive lineman on the market this offseason, it’s only because he’ll be surpassed by another elite interior talent in New England Patriots’ guard Joe Thuney.
A third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Thuney has been the model of consistency over the past five years. Since entering the league back in 2016, Thuney has yet to miss a single game starting all 75 games over that stretch.
In today’s NFL, that level of durability is almost unheard of. And he hasn’t just been healthy, he’s played at an elite level as well.
Thuney ranked as PFF’s No. 6 overall guard in 2018 and one-upped himself finishing as the fifth-best guard the following season. Since 2017, he hasn’t ranked lower than 15th and that trend looks destined to continue this season.
Much like Scherff, Thuney was due to become a free agent last offseason but the Patriots tagged him before he could hit the open market. This time around, things could be different.
New England is still looking to work out a long-term deal, but there’s no doubt that Thuney will want to be one of, if not the highest-paid guard in the NFL. And it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve it.
Thuney is the ideal Joe Douglas target. A versatile, durable, high-character offensive lineman who also doubles as an All-Pro talent.
Douglas won’t be able to resist if Thuney actually hits the market.