The Jets landed a gamechanger at quarterback this spring, and now it’s up to them to figure out how to protect him. Head coach Robert Saleh made sure to communicate that the plan is to play the five best linemen, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post, clarifying that the center and tackle spots, specifically, will be open for competition.
The guard spots are presumably safe. Despite a down year for Laken Tomlinson, the Jets signed him to a three-year deal last year to start at guard. After an admirable rookie year as a starter, Alijah Vera-Tucker put together a strong start to his sophomore season last year, even being forced into playing tackle due to injuries before a torn triceps injury of his own sidelined him for the rest of the year. Confirming earlier reports, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post recently reported that Vera-Tucker is still on track to return from his injury by training camp.
At tackle, Mekhi Becton is also slated to return in time for training camp after missing all but one game of last season due to an avulsion fracture of his right knee. Duane Brown mostly held down the left tackle position while right tackle was mostly handled by Vera-Tucker, Max Mitchell, and George Fant. Fant departed as a free agent, but the team brought in veteran tackle Billy Turner from Denver who can compete for the position, as well.
At center, Connor McGovern has handled starting duties in New York for the last three years, grading out as a top 10 center in the league in each of the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The Jets only re-signed McGovern to a one-year contract, though, so it may not be so surprising that his job is open for competition. That point was further dictated by New York drafting one of the top center prospects in the draft, Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann, in the second round as the first center off the board. Despite McGovern’s recent years of success, Tippmann may represent the future at the position for the Jets.
Here are a few more rumors surrounding Gang Green this offseason:
- Speaking of the Aaron Rodgers acquisition, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer indicated that Rodgers playing two more years was reportedly a big part of the team’s discussions with him before the trade. That supposed dedication was only reinforced when Rodgers claimed that he would participate in offseason workouts. Many veterans don’t feel the need to attend such workouts, but considering Rodgers is new to the facility, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio’s report that he plans on being present for “more than half” of the remaining offseason workouts is encouraging for Jets fans.
- New York recently re-signed long snapper Thomas Hennessy to a four-year extension. The new deal, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, has a value of $5.97MM. The deal has a guaranteed amount of $1.96MM consisting of an $875K signing bonus and Hennessy’s first year base salary of $1.08MM. $670K of his 2024 salary is guaranteed for injury at signing, and the rest of the $1.21MM will become fully guaranteed on the fifth league day of the 2024 season. He’s set for base salaries of $1.26MM in 2025, $1.3MM in 2026, and $1.35MM in 2027, but the contract has a potential out built in after this season that would allow the Jets to cut Hennessy after this year with only $700K of dead cap.
- The Jets recently included Southern Mississippi wide receiver Jason Brownlee in their group of undrafted free agents. New York was clearly eager to ink Brownlee, giving the rookie a $246K guarantee, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. That amount is the equivalent of the guarantee given to a low fifth-round pick.
- With all their offensive line suffering so many injuries last year, the Jets were happy to have the help of veteran Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Now, with his contract expired, Duvernay-Tardif may have set his sights past football. The medical school graduate has been spinning several plates since the season ended, working shifts in the emergency department of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, starting a Masters of Public Health program at Harvard, and promoting a French skin care brand. Still, while Duvernay-Tardif maintains that medicine is still his future, he hasn’t committed to retiring claiming that he’s still in shape “if the phone rings in October.”