NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets will be looking to bolster their offensive line in the offseason. After another lackluster year from their front-five, the Jets are in need of an upgrade to their offensive line.
And while most assume the team will address the position in free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, there is another avenue the Jets could take to fill their needs. The trade market.
The trade market is expected to be more active than ever before this offseason with teams looking to shed salary in any way they can. A team like the Jets, with an abundance of financial flexibility, could take advantage of this.
Teams will be looking to either restructure contracts, trade players with high salaries, or outright release them in the coming days before the start of the new league year.
The attention is undoubtedly on the quarterback market, but some other high-profile players could be available. The likes of Stephon Gilmore, Odell Beckham, and Zach Ertz are just some of the names that have been thrown around this offseason.
But what about the offensive linemen?
The Jets are realistically only locked into two starters going into the 2021 offseason — Mekhi Becton and Connor McGovern. Becton for obvious reasons and McGovern for his contract.
The other three holdovers stand a chance at being replaced, especially guards Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten.
But before free agency and the draft arrive, could the Jets turn to the trade market to find their upgrades? We take a look at three offensive linemen the Jets could realistically target in a trade.
Honorable mention to Philadelphia Eagles’ guard Brandon Brooks.
Next: 3. Andrew Norwell
3. NY Jets trade target: Andrew Norwell, OG, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a huge splash in free agency a few years ago when they signed former Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell to a massive five-year, $66.5 million contract.
Over the past three years, Nowell has served as an above-average starter anchoring the Jaguars’ offensive line. However, there are rumblings that the team might look to move on from him this offseason.
And the Jets are a team that could consider taking him off their hands.
At 29-years-old, Norwell isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still a rock-solid starter and would represent a significant upgrade over Alex Lewis at left guard. The only issue is his salary.
Norwell will have a $15 million cap hit in 2021 and a $16 million cap hit in 2022, hence why Jacksonville might be looking to move on. Given their options in free agency, it would be foolish for the Jets to take on that salary.
However, it should be noted that if the Jaguars were to trade him before June 1st, they would incur a dead cap charge of $6 million leaving his new team to only owe $9 million in 2021. That’s a much more reasonable price tag.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
And if things go south, the Jets would be able to cut ties with him after just one season for just a $3 million cap charge. Given his still-reliable play, Norwell is someone they could consider.
He’s received a Pro Football Focus grade ranked inside the top-26 guards in football in each of the last three seasons and would give the Jets a solid veteran on the interior. Notably, he also received the fifth-highest pass-block grade among all guards in 2020.
Should he be their first option? Not necessarily, but Norwell is someone the Jets should consider provided it doesn’t cost significant draft capital.
Next: 2. Kevin Zeitler
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2. NY Jets trade target: Kevin Zeitler, OG, New York Giants
Another veteran lineman who, somewhat surprisingly, finds himself the subject of trade rumors is New York Giants’ guard Kevin Zeitler.
Zeitler is entering the final year of a three-year, $32 million contract he signed with the Giants prior to the 2019 season. And although he’s been the team’s only consistent lineman over the past two years, there are still talks of moving on.
That’s because he’s set to hold a $14.5 million cap hit in 2021, a figure that probably doesn’t align with his 2020 play.
Zeitler was ranked by PFF as the seventh-best guard in the NFL in both 2018 and 2019, but his play slipped a little in 2020 as he finished with a grade of 65.9 ranking him as the No. 32 guard in football.
That said, he remained far and away the Giants’ best offensive lineman. In fact, it’s very likely that his play suffered due to the lack of talent around him.
At 31-years-old, Zeitler wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but he would represent a sizable upgrade over Greg Van Roten at right guard. And if the Jets could land someone like Joe Thuney in free agency or Wyatt Davis in the 2021 NFL Draft, adding Zeitler makes sense.
It might require an early Day 3 pick to get him, especially given that the Giants would retain $2.5 million of his remaining salary, but it would probably be worth it.
Zeitler remains an above-average starter who could hold the fort down in 2021 much better than someone like Van Roten did in 2020.
He’s a stop-gap, but a very good stop-gap.
Next: 1. Trent Brown
1. NY Jets trade target: Trent Brown, OT, Las Vegas Raiders
Trent Brown feels like he’s been in the NFL for a decade at this point, but amazingly, he’s still only 27-years-old. And after moving on from both Gabe Jackson and Richie Incognito, Brown might be the third Raiders offensive linemen to be sent packing this offseason.
Unlike the other two on this list, the Raiders are unlikely to move on from Brown unless they find a trade partner. Although they could feasibly cut him this offseason without any dead cap.
But if they’re looking to trade him, the Jets should consider exploring his market.
Brown is due $29.25 million over the next two years, but none of that is guaranteed. That means the Jets could cut ties at any point if they so desire.
The former Florida standout was injured for a lot of 2020, but he’s been rock-solid since joining Las Vegas. Brown has allowed just one sack over the last two years and received a very respectable 69.1 grade in his last full season (2019).
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets land Zach Wilson and Kwity Paye in 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
- NY Jets: Oregon CB Deommodore Lenoir talks NFL Draft in interview
- 3 hypothetical trades the NY Jets could make on draft night
- NY Jets: Kent State WR Isaiah McKoy talks NFL Draft in interview
- NY Jets: 3 tight ends to target in the 2021 NFL Draft
And at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, he’s one of the few players in the NFL larger than 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton. Just imagine a starting tackle duo of Becton and Brown for opposing defenses to contend with.
What makes this even more appealing is that the Jets could save some money by moving on from right tackle George Fant and replacing him with Brown. Fant’s cap hit of $9.35 million comes with just a $2 million dead cap charge.
Effectively, the Jets would be paying under $7 million for Brown in 2021 and a little over $5 million in 2022 if you factor in the money they’d save from cutting Fant. The value of that upgrade would probably be worth it.
If the Raiders agree to move on for a reasonable price, the Jets should be all over Trent Brown’s trade market.