The Jets are unlikely to exercise offensive tackle Ben Ijalana‘s option for the 2018 season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Even so, New York could potentially re-sign Ijalana during free agency, per Rapoport.
Due to the structure of Ijalana’s two-year contract, the Jets must decide by today whether to pay a $500K bonus that would trigger the 2018 season of his deal. By not picking up the option, New York will save roughly $4.672MM in cap space but incur $1.25MM in dead money.
Ijalana, 28, started 13 games and played more than 83% of Gang Green’s offensive snaps in 2016, and even spent time at left tackle when called upon. While he wasn’t spectacular — Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 60 tackle among 78 qualifiers — Ijalana provided depth and looked to be the frontrunner for the Jets’ starting right tackle position in 2017.
Instead, Brandon Shell took over at right tackle, relegating Ijalana to swing tackle duty. In all, Ijalana played only 56 offensive snaps and 42 special teams a season ago, making his $4.5MM salary for 2018 untenable. He’ll hit free agency, and given the dearth of tackles available on the open market, it’s not out of the question that Ijalana could compete for a starting job elsewhere.
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