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New York Jets Team Needs: Offensive Line

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New York Jets Team Needs: Offensive Line

2014-03-04 13:19:51

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Right tackle Austin Howard is New York’s top free agent. (Image Source: Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Jets have been set at two spots along the offensive line for several years now and they hope that will be the case for several more years. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold are the heart and soul of New York’s offensive line and are entrenched at their respective positions.

Sometime in the next week, ideally before free agency begins on March 11, general manager John Idzik would like to officially make right tackle Austin Howard part of the team’s core by signing the 26-year old to a long-term contract, solidifying the NYJ at both tackle spots.

According to reports, the club has already begun to negotiate a deal with Howard and his representatives in hopes of keeping him from ever hitting the free agent market. It is believed Howard, who earned just over $2 million last season, will be in line for a deal that will pay him about $5 million per.

At 6’7” and 333 pounds he is blessed with great size, New York’s biggest O-lineman. Howard was a big part of their strong rushing attack in 2013 and has improved as a pass blocker.

Assuming the Jets are able to workout a deal with Howard, if Idzik reaches outside the franchise to fill a starting spot along the offensive line it will likely be at the guard position.

It is assumed that second-year man Brian Winters will have every opportunity to start at one of the guard positions. He will probably have to fall flat on his face to not earn a starting role. The franchise had very high hopes when they used a third-round pick to select the 320-pounder out of Kent State. While he was slow to develop, the powerful Winters got better as the season went along and was rewarded with increased playing time.

With free agency a week away, it appears the Jets are pretty close to being set at four of the five spots along the offensive line. So who will start at the other guard position?

Right now, it doesn’t appear that either Willie Colon or Vladimir Ducasse—both free agents—will be back. Ducasse is coming off his best season, but the second-round pick is a bust and he was never able to translate his physical ability to production on the field despite numerous opportunities. When the Jets signed Colon last season it was viewed as a stopgap move and the team would probably prefer to go with someone who could provide more stability at the position. If they are unable to fill this spot via free agency it’s possible they could revisit re-signing Colon at the right price.

The Jets could look within as well. They drafted Oday Aboushi and William Campbell in the later rounds of last year’s draft, but it’s hard to say at this time if either is perceived as someone who can take on a bigger role this upcoming season. Undrafted rookie center Dalton Freeman looked good in the preseason before an injury cost him his rookie campaign.

I’d expect Idzik so sign a veteran guard to couple with Winters on the inside, but not to break the bank. It’s possible the Jets could draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds, if the right player drops to their slot, but it won’t necessarily be their biggest need. Their belief in players like Aboushi, Campbell and Freeman, as well as their free agent activity, will probably dictate how they attack the offensive line position come draft time.

Related Links:

New York Jets Team Needs: Quarterback

New York Jets Team Needs: Running Back

New York Jets Team Needs: Wide Receiver

New York Jets Team Needs: Tight End

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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