Before you know it, your favorite NFL team will undergo a dramatic facelift and hypothetically improve their prospects for the 2014 season. Don’t forget, however, the 2013 rosters are still set and old faces will play just as important roles as the new ones. As of today there are two days until NFL Free Agency and the start of the new league year. So, each day, we at TOJ will address a new position group and where there will be change. Today, offensive line.
2013 New York Jets Depth Chart:
- D’Brickashaw Ferguson - Under contract through 2017
- Brian Winters - Under contract through 2016
- Nick Mangold - Under contract through 2017
- Willie Colon - Unrestricted Free Agent
- Austin Howard - Unrestricted Free Agent
- Vlad Ducasse - Unrestricted Free Agent
- Ben Ijalana - Under contract for 2014
- Oday Aboushi - Under contract through 2016
- William Campbell - Under contract through 2016
- Caleb Schlauderaff - Under contract for 2014
As Currently Constituted:
Aboushi and Campbell provide the Jets depth as ascending talent. Schlauderaff and Ijalana provide the Jets depth as capable back-ups. That being said, expecting any of these four to step into a starting role next season would be ludicrous. However, with Colon and Howard about to hit the open market, the possibility exists.
Though Mangold and Ferguson were not their dominant selves in 2013, they still performed as above average starters. They will be the opening day left tackle and center in 2014.
Brian Winters struggled most of the season. Though he beat out Ducasse, he continued to allow defenders easy access to the back field. That being said, he improved over the course of the year and did his fair share of grinding in the run game. Another year under his belt as a gaurd (remember he played tackle in college) and of chemistry with his fellow linemen will do him good. There has also been speculation about him moving to right guard (where his run blocking strengths would be best suited) depending on what the Jets do in free agency and the draft.
Keeping it In House:
Colon was signed as a one year stop gap for a cap strapped team with few options. Though he played admirably and provided veteran leadership, Colon committed far too many penalties and age is a concern. His return is unlikely.
Howard, since taking over for Wayne Hunter, has improved steadily. Last season he only allowed two sacks. Though he is no world beater, he provides the affordable consistency that teams covet. Contract talks with Howard seem to be at a stand still and he may hit the market come Tuesday afternoon. The Jets still have time to ink him to a new contract, which ESPN New York believes could resemble Sebastian Vollmer’s four year, $17 million contract.
Something to consider is that if Howard hits a flooded tackle market (e.g. Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, Roger Saffold, etc.) he could see his value plummet. However, it also opens up the possibility for a raise in asking price depending on how his fellow tackles get paid.
The Jets are in the market for a guard. According to reports, they have spoken with Zane Beadles, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Asamoah. All three would provide an upgrade at the position and flexibility. Any addition would likely see a similar situation to last year’s competition at the spot. Stephen Peterman, Colon, Winters, and Ducasse were all in an open competition to grab the two starting spots; each player being moved back and forth from right to left guard and eventually settling into their positions. This would be the ideal scenario for this off-season as well. It would behoove the team to sign one or two guards in free agency and consider drafting one in the later rounds.
The Jets seem confident that Howard will return to the team. However, should that option fall through, some available tackles would prove to be an upgrade. That being said, many of those tackles would prefer to play on the left.
For more on the FA RBs see: