This is not the same old New York Jets. After hinting towards a trade, the Jets have made a move up nine selections to grab a monster from USC. After nabbing their guy at Quarterback, the Jets have grabbed Alijah Vera Tucker. Tucker is a versatile guard from Oakland, now he heads to the Big Apple.
Tucker was a highly touted prospect out of high school, receiving offers from a majority of PAC-12 schools. Tucker immediately excelled at USC and only allowed five sacks in 927 snaps. Tucker, at 6 foot 4, 315 pounds, has the size to carry that excellence over to the next level. Tucker is a plug-and-play guard with the All-Pro potential as run and pass blocker.
With Tucker likely slotting in at left guard, the Jets now have their left side of the line-locked down for the foreseeable future. Pairing Becton and Tucker up ensure Wilson’s blindside will be well protected, which is something that Sam Darnold did not have in his time with gang green. A nice little wrinkle as well, Tucker was a captain for the Trojans, something Douglas has made a point for picking players to this point.
The Jets did have to trade up to nab Tucker, but the cost was not too bad. The Jets moved up nine slots while giving their 23rd selection to Minnesota. They also gave the Vikings both pick 66 and 86. In return, aside from pick 14, they also got pick 143 in the 4th round. While they lost both their third-rounders, with three picks in the 4th, don’t be surprised if Douglas moves back into the 3rd if a guy he covets is there. Now, the Jets look to pick 34 to get their pick of the guys who slip out of the first round, with a prime chance to grab another blue-chip prospect.
The New York Jets will definitely take a quarterback second overall, but where could they take some other offensive roles?
The New York Jets know what they have to do when it comes to the NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network). Questions, however, still linger. Who will they pick? When will they address each position and need?
ESM attempts to answer the latter question, starting with the offensive end…
It’s more or less a foregone conclusion that the Jets are taking a quarterback with the second overall pick, and John Beck has all but confirmed that it’s going to be his pupil and fellow BYU legend Zach Wilson. Whether it’s Wilson or a non-Provo surprise, the Jets have no other choice. The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes are over and their current options are James Morgan and Mike White, they of a combined zero NFL passes. Everything they’ve done this offseason has led to this: it’s quarterback or bust with their highest choice since 1996.
The Jets are in desperate need of a backup, but the draft is definitely not the place to get that, a la the Washington draft in 2012 (Robert Griffin III at No. 2, Kirk Cousins in the fourth round). Besides, they’re already burdened with one unnecessary quarterback, inexplicably draft Morgan in the fourth round before instant contributors like Gabriel Davis and DeeJay Dallas. There’s no need to add another after Wilson.
The Perfect Spot: No. 2 pick
No matter who the Jets draft at second overall, his job can be made a whole lot easier if they have a serviceable run game to help him out. They had a trio of young projects (La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, Josh Adams) but enjoyed a sizable veteran upgrade capable of making an impact through the addition of Tevin Coleman. While Coleman is only in town on a one-year deal, the addition allows the Jets to bide their time in finding a long-term solution at running back. Adding another young rusher to the mix sounds fair, but Coleman and a deep rushing class allow the Jets to address other needs with their early picks.
The Perfect Spots: Day 3
The receiver spot was one of the most drastically upgraded areas on the Jets’ roster through free agency. While the Jets might still lack a true No. 1 target, they now have four guys who can realistically fill and compete for that role (newcomers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole join incumbents Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder). Much like Coleman, the free agency haul allows them to be patient, though they could still be inspired to take a receiver after they fulfill their early needs.
The Perfect Spots: Round 3 and beyond
The last survivor from their ill-fated fashion show, Chris Herndon is perhaps the most prominent face left over from the Todd Bowles era. Though he has struggled to maintain his rookie year production thanks to a suspension and injuries, last season ended on a promising note (11 receptions, 97 yards, 2 touchdowns over the last couple of games). That might be enough for them to wait a little bit before they add a potential replacement.
Beyond the brief Herndon resurgence, there’s a drastic talent drop in this position class after the highly coveted Kyle Pitts, who will likely be long gone by the time the Jets make their second pick in the 23rd slot. The addition of Tyler Kroft and re-signing of Daniel Brown also ensures that the Jets can wait to add another tight end. It’s not an elite group on the current roster by any stretch, but there’s enough solid personnel here that the Jets can worry about more desperate areas come Thursday and Friday.
The Perfect Spots: Day 3
When it comes to their blocking, the Jets should draft early and draft often.
Had the Jets kept Sam Darnold, the second overall pick could’ve well been used on a blocker (i.e. Penei Sewell). While the Jets made some improvements throughout the roster, the blocking went mostly unaddressed as they added only Dan Feeney and Corey Levin, who likely won’t provide the blocking revolution the Jets need when making the transition to a new franchise quarterback. They have the capital to make up for lost time in the draft to put some heat on the incumbent blocking group and give the thrower, Wilson or otherwise, a solid foundation to work with.
Drafting Mekhi Becton and passing on elite receiving talent with the 11th overall pick was last season was a necessary move that paid big dividends. But more work is needed. Any pick used on a blocker after the inevitable quarterback at No. 2 can be a wise investment that continues Joe Douglas’ quest to make amends for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era.
The New York Jets have added more depth to the offensive line in the form of 26-year-old Corey Levin. Levin, a former sixth-rounder from Chattanooga, was a competent lineman for the Chattanooga squad before staying in Tennessee with the Titans. Levin now joins the Jets as a depth piece for next season.
How Does Levin Fit?
Levin has become somewhat of a journeyman in his brief career. After being waved by Tennessee, he’s found homes in Chicago, New England, and Denver all briefly. Now he finds a home in New York as a versatile depth piece moving forward.
Levin has yet to register a substantial amount of playing time in any of his last three spots, but he did dress for all 16 games his rookie year, playing snaps on special teams and rotating in at center and guard for one game.
Although there is not a lot to go off with Levin, one preseason evaluation from 2019 was encouraging as the Titan-sized site on SB Nation reported, “Offensive lineman Corey Levin was also a standout player. Levin could get some run at center this season, and he has the versatility to play elsewhere on the offensive line.” For a team that needs more bodies in the room, the addition of the young lineman is intriguing as the team fills out the roster before the draft.
The New York Jets undoubtedly improved this offseason, but there are several areas of need to address as the calendar flips to April.
The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team this offseason. Whether that’s a result of the Adam Gase era giving them nowhere to go but up or it leads to actual results on the field remains to be seen, but the Jets have laid down a solid foundation for the Robert Saleh era. Optimism reigns for an already star-crossed franchise coming off a two-win season through the signings of names like Tevin Coleman, Corey Davis, and Carl Lawson.
“There’s a lot of optimism, especially coming off a bad season, so I’m looking forward to working. I love the process,” Lawson said in video provided by the Jets. He compared the situation to franchise mode on the Madden NFL video game franchise. “I play Madden because I love building teams. I love franchise mode. Franchise mode hasn’t changed on Madden in like 15 years, but I’m never going to stop loving it because I get to build, I get to grow, I get to improve.”
Yet, as the calendar flips to April and the free agency frenzy mostly pacified, the Jets have several areas of need that have yet to be satisfied. Competing in the crowded AFC will probably be difficult with even the perfect offseason, but the Saleh era can get off to an optimally smooth start if the following areas are satisfied, preferably sooner rather than later…
Solving the offensive line issues was probably at the top of the Jets’ offseason to-do list, the necessity even outweighing the quarterback quandary. No matter who’s throwing the ball, he’s going to need protection.
Joe Douglas has shown he’s willing to make up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His drafting of Mekhi Becton was a strong start, but his free agency signings failed to pan out. Several are set to return for another season, but the Jets missed out on the big targets (Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler), adding only interior man Dan Feeney from the Los Angeles Chargers. Another addition, tight end Tyler Kroft, has gained positive reviews for his blocking, but nothing that should dramatically change the Jets’ protection affairs.
An interesting gambit for the Jets would be to draft top blocking prospect Penei Sewell with the second overall choice and letting Sam Darnold work behind a revamped line, but the Jets’ due diligence at incoming rookie passing class hints that they’re headed toward that direction. But at least one of their early picks, namely the 23rd and 34th overall selections, should be used on a blocker if only to raise the heat on some of the incumbents. Veteran help from abroad, like Kansas City’s Austin Reiter, should also be considered. Reiter, set to turn 30 in November, was the Chiefs’ starting center in each of the last two Super Bowls.
After the spending frenzy in March, the Jets appear to have a plan in place when it comes to their safeties. Marcus Maye was granted the franchise tag, which basically serves as a $10 million “prove it” deal. On the strong side, the post-Jamal Adams era continues. Ashtyn Davis will get a de facto second rookie season after injuries marred his original and the Jets have brought in a strong mentor and veteran prescience in LaMarcus Joyner to help out. Elsewhere on defense, front seven newcomers Lawson and Jarrad Davis have experiences in the 4-3 scheme that Robert Saleh is reportedly hoping to implement.
But the cornerback depth is definitely concerning. Youngsters Bless Austin and Bryce Hall have shown flashes of brilliance in their infantile NFL careers, but they’ll probably need further development before fully embracing the starting roles. Newly signed Justin Hardee is listed as a corner but primarily works on special teams. The Jets also have a decision to make on one of their free agents, Brian Poole.
The 23rd pick, obtained from Seattle for Adams, can potentially be used on the top cornerbacks on the draft, namely Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, or Jaycee Horn.
The Jets have not had a quarterback start every game in a season since Ryan Fitzpatrick went all 16 in 2015. If Darnold stays, the Jets should be ready for the unthinkable again, as he has yet to play a full NFL season. Should the rookie arrive, some see Darnold as a safety blanket. But if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields make their entrance, Darnold still shouldn’t stay. There doesn’t need to be a quarterback controversy and the USC alum isn’t at the “veteran mentor” stage.
When Darnold got hurt last season, the Philadelphia-bound Joe Flacco did a serviceable job in relief. But with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP donning a new shade of green, they need to be prepared in case of an emergency. The draft can’t be an option, as the Jets have far too many needs to fill with their surplus and the fourth-round choice of James Morgan in last year’s proceedings remains puzzling. If they want a safety net that can win games, Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s Bay Area comrade Nick Mullens could be an option, while veteran mentors are available through Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, or Blake Bortles.
Since Pro Bowler Jason Myers absconded to Seattle, the Jets have gone through six different kickers over the last two seasons. When you’re a team like the Jets, a team that struggles to get into the end zone, you need a reliable kicker to ensure visits to opposing territory end with at least some points. There appears to be a competition in place between two of those names (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin), but the Jets need reliability and would be smart to showcase new talent.
The Jets haven’t used a draft pick on a kicker since Mike Nugent in the second round of the 2005 selections. There’s certainly no need to go that early this time around, but the selection of punter Braden Mann with their final pick last year shows the Jets won’t hesitate to address their special teams on draft weekend. Evan McPherson (Florida) and Jorge Borregales (Miami) are the top boots this time around.
Heading into last offseason, one of the hottest commodities projected to hit the market was two-time Super Bowl champion and all-pro offensive guard Joe Thuney. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins were reportedly set to back up the brinks truck to Thuney in hopes he would anchor his offensive line. Then, the Patriots threw a wrench in those plans by tagging Thuney. Now, Thuney will reportedly be allowed to seek a new home this offseason. With Mekhi Becton as the solidified anchor of the offensive line at left tackle, here is why Joe Thuney can give the Jets one of the best tackle/guard combos in football.
Who is Joe Thuney?
Joe Thuney grew up in Ohio and was one of four children. Thuney was not a stranger to success early in life, he was a member of two state championship football teams, he was named offensive lineman of the year in the Greater Catholic League, and was class president in his senior year of high school. Thuney was well-liked on and off the gridiron, and this led to an opportunity to play at NC State. At NC State, Thuney played all over the offensive line taking snaps at center, both tackle spots, and guard during his time with the program. Thuney graduated NC State in three years and received All American honors.
After a successful beginning to his football career, Thuney was selected with the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In five seasons, Thuney has played every single game, not only that, but he has been a team-first guy being adaptable this past season and making the switch to tackle with Marcus Cannon opting out and creating a void. Thuney has been both a depiction of stability and success, winning two rings during his tenure with the Pats.
Why The Jets?
Thuney will command a monster deal this offseason. As one of the most reliable and consistent linemen in the game, he will be paid as such. Now, Joe Douglas has been rather set in his evaluations of certain players in the past, but offensive linemen have been his most focused entity in his brief tenure as general manager to this point. The potential of having two beasts on the offensive line for the long-term future in Thuney and Becton is something the well-traveled exec may not be able to pass up. Not only that, but as we saw just a few weeks ago with Patrick Mahomes, if you don’t have protection, the entire rhythm of the game plan is thrown out the window.
On a relatively young team, Thuney would slot in as a leader and building block for the future. We are talking about a durable, smart, and versatile piece that fits the mold of everything Douglas seems to look for in the guys he wants to fill out his roster with. Add all that into the fact that he is successful no matter the stop. Thuney could be used anywhere on the line, but the idea of Becton and Thuney anchoring the left side could be too much to pass up. No matter where you put him on the line, Thuney would be a massive addition to the team and someone the Jets should not let slip away.
No matter who plays quarterback for the New York Jets in 2021, they’re going to need someone blocking for them.
The Position: Offensive Line On the Roster: Greg Van Roten, Conor McDermott, Connor McGovern, Jimmy Murray, Mekhi Becton, Cameron Clark, Chuma Edoga, George Fant, Alex Lewis Free Agents: Pat Elflein, Josh Andrews Reserve/Future: N/A
If Joe Douglas made one thing clear upon taking the New York Jets’ general manager spot, it was that he was going to work on an offensive line that Mike Maccagnan mostly neglected.
Save for choosing Chuma Edoga with what became the final day two pick of his tenure, Maccagan avoided building the line with his early selections. Prior to Maccagan using one of his final picks on Chuma Edoga in 2019’s third round, Brian Winters was the last blocker chosen within the draft’s first three sessions in 2013. The last premiere choices were the legendary D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Nick Mangold haul during the 2006 selections.
Once Douglas got to work in the late stages of summer 2019, he quickly let everyone know that the Jets were under management by getting to work on the line. He sent a late draft pick to Baltimore to bring in Alex Lewis and convinced Carolina mainstay Ryan Kalil to delay his retirement. While the results have been mixed…the Kalil experiment blew up and Lewis has been in and out of the starting lineup…Douglas had a plan to build the offense up.
He kept things up last season, as Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant joined the team through free agency. During his first draft, Douglas bypassed name-brand receivers like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson to take Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton. The veterans struggled, but Douglas appears to have chosen a keeper in Becton, who served as a rare silver lining during his debut campaign. Douglas didn’t stop there, taking Charlotte football’s longest-tenured player Cameron Clarke with the last of three fourth-round picks.
Becton appears to be a long-term asset in New York, but many of the deals have opt-outs after a single year. In fact, the only free agent in the entire 2020 free agency class with a dedication beyond last season is Connor McGovern. Some cap saving moves…the release of George Fant would save the team over $5 million, for example…may lead the Jets to a complete retooling of their blocking for the second straight season…with the exception of Becton at the blind side, of course.
Questions plague the Jets’ quarterback situation, as many question whether Sam Darnold will get a fourth year in the franchise thrower role. But no matter who’s throwing, the quarterback’s endeavors will be meaningless if he has no protection. There’s a long way to go to finish building the wall.
Andrews was a career-long depth man who earned a Super Bowl ring with Douglas while serving on Philadelphia’s practice squad. He was initially part of the final training camp cuts, but he returned to partake in all but one game. He even started four, including the final three when Van Roten went down, the first starts of his career.
Watch Pat Elflein just obliterate the defender & PUT HIM DOWN!
I was excited when we signed him, was a favorite OL of mine in the 2017 #NFLDraft
He should be brought back next season, shouldn’t be too expensive #Jets#TakeFlight
Bid farewell from Minnesota in November, Elflein was a bit of a peace offering for Adam Gase when the departed head coach Adam Gase butted heads. Since Lewis has been a rare consistent prescience in the Jets’ blocking corps, it’s likely that Elflein will likely ship off in search of new opportunities.
Notes from 4 games of Rashawn Slater are done. Watched Stanford, OSU, Indiana, Illinois.
Positives: +Gets to the 2nd level extremely well +Good movement skills +Strong Hands +Strong base/anchor +Great footwork, reset +Powerful, smart run blocker +Good eyes/patience +Great Puller pic.twitter.com/xq2qzuinUm
It’s a very strong possibility. Douglas knows the importance of picking a lineman and likely won’t hesitate to use an early pick to find either an immediate contributor or a depth option that could raise the heat on any returnees. If the Jets resolve their quarterback situation prior to the draft, many have pegged Oregon standout Penei Sewell to at No. 2. Sewell skipped the entire 2020 campaign but his breakthrough sophomore showing a season prior will not be soon forgotten. But with Sewell lining in the same blindspot as Becton, the Jets will likely seek help on the right side. Thus, choosing Texas’ Sam Cosmi or the versatile Rashawn Slater of Northwestern with the Seattle pick at No. 23 or their regularly scheduled second-round choice at No. 34 seems a lot more realistic.
Lewis has been serviceable at left guard, but if Thuney presents himself, the Jets would likely be in the running. The Jets targeted Thuney during the last free agency period, but the Patriots put the franchise tag on him. It’s likely that Thuney is going to look for some long-term stability this time around, and the Jets certainly have the cap space to afford such a premier blocking talent.
Over the past few tumultuous seasons of Washington football, Scherff has been a rare consistent silver lining…when he plays, that is. The four-time Pro Bowler hasn’t played a full season since his sophomore season back in 2016 but has been a dominant prescience in the nation’s capital. Bringing him in would be the true definition of a high-risk/high-reward situation.
Signed to a relatively cheap one-year deal as a depth option, Williams came up big for the Bills when injuries hit their blocking corps, namely Cody Ford. He partook in over 95 percent of Buffalo’s offensive snaps and became a generally reliable piece alongside fellow free agent Jon Feliciano on the right side. A former All-Pro, Williams will likely seek a bigger contract this time around, but he can be looked upon as not only a solid contributor but as a provider of veteran guidance the Jets desperately need.
A poor offensive line can sink even the most potent of offenses. Look no further than what happened to the Kansas City Chiefs during Sunday’s Super Bowl festivities. With Eric Fisher out, Patrick Mahomes was left running for his life constantly thanks to a relentless Tampa Bay rush ordered by Todd Bowles. The onslaught undoubtedly played a factor in the Chiefs’ eventual 31-9 defeat. New York, of course, is miles further from returning to the Super Bowl, so far away that the journey is probably going to take several years. The process should with building up the blocking. Draft Becton was a good start, and it certainly seems like the Louisville product is here to stay. But there’s a long, long way to go when it comes to protecting the quarterback on a reliable basis. Not matter who’s under center, the Jets need to bolster the wall in front of him. Douglas has gotten off to a good start in filling this dire need. Further change is undoubtedly coming, but whether it’s through the draft or free agency remains to be seen.
The New York Giants‘ offensive line was inconsistent in 2020. The Giants have had struggles across their offensive line for years now. It is a problem the Giants seemingly cannot fix. However, they are slowly working towards improving the offensive line, investing plenty of assets into the unit over the past two years.
The Giants traded for Kevin Zeitler in 2019 and signed Nate Solder to a huge contract in the 2018 free agency period. These are the two moves New York has made to acquire veteran talent on the offensive line. In 2020, though, the Giants shifted towards a more youthful approach on the offensive line.
New York spent the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on left tackle Andrew Thomas. They then doubled down at the position in the third round, selecting offensive tackle Matt Peart with pick number ninety-nine. But the Giants were not done there. They also spent a fifth-round pick on offensive guard Shane Lemieux in 2020.
These rookies saw plenty of playing time in the 2020 regular season. However, their performance was not always consistently good. However, there are reasons to believe that the Giants’ offensive line will improve further in 2021.
Continuity is key
The New York Giants’ offensive line severely lacked continuity and experience in 2020. Along with the rookies that saw extensive playing time, the Giants started second-year lineman Nick Gates at center, a position he had never played before. Gates was practically a rookie as well.
Taking that into consideration, the Giants had experienced players at only two of the five offensive line positions last season. Right guard Kevin Zeitler is an excellent, veteran player. Right tackle Cam Fleming is also an experienced veteran. However, the rest of the line was comprised of rookies and inexperienced players for the majority of the season.
The Giants also had no continuity along their offensive line. In terms of calling protections and passing off stunts, continuity and chemistry is crucial. No one on the Giants’ offensive line in 2020 lined up next to a teammate that they lined up next to in 2019.
Kevin Zeitler was placed between a brand new center and a brand new right tackle. The absence of Nate Solder left rookie Andrew Thomas as the Giants’ starting left tackle, sandwiching the left guard position between two newly acquired players.
The 2021 season will see the Giants’ offensive line play with far more chemistry and continuity than they did in 2020. There is not likely to be much overturn at all along New York’s offensive line. There could be a change made at the right tackle position, but the other four positions will likely be manned by the same players from last season. Additionally, the Giants made a change at the offensive line coach position midseason in 2020. Hopefully, in 2021, New York’s front line can enjoy the coaching of a singular coach. This second-year together could allow the Giants’ offensive line to grow and develop into a more continuous and consistent unit.
The New York Jets’ blocker hasn’t taken kindly to those hoping for the team’s intentional demise to secure the top draft pick next spring.
Over the final three weeks of a dreary 2020 season, the New York Jets (0-13) are going to try and win a game…whether their fans like it or not.
So scorned have Jets fans been by this season from the depths of the football underworld that some vocal legions have taken to openly rooting against them in hopes of securing the top overall pick in next spring’s draft. The Jets currently “lead” the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12) by one game in the race for the top pick, who is widely believed to be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Neither team appears destined for a win during Sunday’s Week 15 action, as the Jets head out west to battle the Los Angeles Rams (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox) while Jacksonville heads to Baltimore to face the Ravens (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Both Los Angeles and Baltimore are in the thick of their respective conference’s playoff chase and are thus heavily favored.
Jets blocker Connor McGovern, however, isn’t playing into any draft hype. The 2020 acquisition, in fact, had some harsh words for any Jet fan looking ahead to Lawrence-inspired antics and openly rooting for their squad’s demise.
“I don’t put my body through this, I don’t think anybody on the Jets puts their body through it, to lose,” McGovern said this week, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “It might be easy for somebody sitting on the couch, eating pizza, chips, and dip, to say they should keep losing, but if they’ve ever strapped the pads on, that sounds like an impossible thing for me to do. I’m going to do whatever I can to win.”
McGovern, 27, has been a rare beacon of green consistency as the only Jets’ offensive starter to begin each of their 13 games to date, despite dealing with a hamstring issue for a good portion of the year. He is one of the rare offseason acquisitions whose status for next year is relatively safe, as his contract was the only veteran deal the Jets signed that doesn’t include a potential 2021 out. Formerly of the Denver Broncos, he has yet to partake in an NFL playoff game, a streak that will obviously continue this season.
Nonetheless, don’t expect the Jets’ lost season to prevent McGovern from doing anything he can to add to the left side of their standings columns.
“Honestly, I think it’s been a good growing year for me,” he said, per Joyce. “I’ve seen a lot of personal growth, starting off a little bit rougher than I have from the past and playing at a much higher level here in this homestretch and being the player the Jets paid me to be and hopefully more than the Jets paid me to be.”
The New York Jets’ veteran blocker will not partake in Sunday’s game against Las Vegas after being placed on the non-football injury list.
The New York Jets have placed offensive lineman Alex Lewis on their reserve/non-football injury list.
Head coach Adam Gase announced on Friday that Lewis would not partake in Sunday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, CBS). According to notes from the Jets, Gase said that Lewis’ departure was “an organizational decision”. He would also insist that Lewis’ departure was not disciplinary and that he has continued to attend positional meetings.
“He’ll be out for the game,” Gase said. “He’s been in meetings…As soon as we have a resolution to this, then we can talk more about it.”
With his placement on the NFI list, Lewis will miss at least the next three games, eligible to return for the Jets’ penultimate game of the season on December 27 against the Cleveland Browns.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini shed some light on Lewis’ situation, mentioning that he is seeking help for an “off-the-field issue”. The Jets will continue to pay him during this process.
Lewis, 28, is in the midst of his second season with the Jets, having come over in a late-summer trade with the Baltimore Ravens during the 2019 offseason. Pro Football Focus has Lewis consistently ranked as the second-best lineman among qualifiers behind only Mekhi Becton. Lewis signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason but could be a salary cap casualty with the Jets poised to save just over $5.3 million if he is released.
It’s possible that relative newcomer Pat Elfein could take over for Lewis in his spot on the offensive line’s interior. Elfein took over for Lewis last week against Miami and previously made 43 starts over three-plus seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He appeared in Minnesota’s Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but was sidelined with a thumb injury that led to a stint on injured reserve. The Jets signed him shortly after Minnesota released him upon activation from IR. Elfein was limited in Friday’s practice with a shoulder ailment.
Despite the loss of Lewis, the Jets (0-11) will be getting some of their blocking depth back, as Gase said that he expects to have both George Fant and Chuma Edoga back from ankle issues after each missed last week’s loss to Miami in East Rutherford. Fant was limited on Friday, but while Edoga was a full participant every day this week.
New York Jets fans often complain about “having” to watch their team play, but they can opt-out at any time. Greg Van Roten, however, has literally seen everything.
The offensive lineman, working his way through his first season as a Jet, has partaken in every single offensive snap the Jets have had over their first ten games. Van Roten has become a welcome staple of relative consistency on a unit that has seen a drastic amount of in-season turnover through injuries and transactions. He’s provided some of the few silver linings in New York football this season, such as the top guard ranking from Pro Football Focus during Week 5 action.
It hasn’t been enough, however, to keep the Jets away from pro football infamy. New York (0-10) is the only winless team left in the NFL and many believe they’re destined to join the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns in the unholy brotherhood of carrying an 0-16 record. They’re also the only team mathematically eliminated from the NFL postseason after 11 weeks of play.
The light at the end of the tunnel in a winless scenario won’t be reached until spring, as imperfection would undoubtedly net the Jets the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. With five of the Jets’ final six opponents either holding or tied for a current playoff spot, many Jets fans are willing to bite the bullet and take the goose egg in the win column if it means hearing Roger Goodell inform the NFL world that the team will be on the clock first when the selection meetings commence.
Van Roten isn’t buying into that idea for a second.
“Why would you want to be in that group?” Van Roten asked rhetorically in his Wednesday post-practice availability, per Jack Bell of NewYorkJets.com. “The hunger is there, especially if you’re older. I don’t want to be a part of one season that is historically bad. We have six games left and we will try to win as many as we can.”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he continued. “If we lose every game it’s possible that I’m not here next year. Nothing in this league is guaranteed. Not the next game, the next year, or the next play. In this league, you can’t concern yourself with the long term.”
The 30-year-old signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract after spending the prior three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, but the Jets can save over $3 million in cap space if they release him prior to June 1 after this season.
Van Roten isn’t the first Jet to speak out against Jets fans’ apparent wishes of 0-16. Veteran rusher and fellow first-year Jet Frank Gore issued similar sentiments after the Jets’ latest loss, a 34-28 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend. The blocker referenced Gore’s statements and said that they are by no means the only ones in the locker room to believe it.
Furthermore, Van Roten doesn’t want the Jets to stop at one win. If and when that victory comes, he believes the Jets can conjure up more.
“When we win, it will be a relief for sure,” he said, per Bell. “You never expect to lose this many in a row in this league. When we finally win, we want to get another and another.”
The Jets’ quest for a win continues on Sunday, as the Jets battle the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS).