If the New York Jets come to an agreement with offensive tackle Morgan Moses, here are 5 paths they could take.
The New York Jets are reportedly considered the favorites to sign former Washington Football Team offensive tackle Morgan Moses. Released by Washington in late May, Moses started at right tackle in every one of Washington’s regular season and playoff games from 2015-20.
Should they end up coming to an agreement with Moses, the Jets have a few different ways they can manage the roster to fit him in. Particularly, the fate of current starting right tackle George Fant is a big question that would have to be answered in the event of a Moses signing.
Here are a few ways the Jets can manage a Moses signing.
Start Moses at RT, move Fant to RG
If the Jets want to start Moses at right tackle and keep Fant in the starting lineup, they could move him to right guard, but I’m not sure that idea is a realistic possibility.
Fant doesn’t have the ideal strength to succeed at guard. He struggles mightily with power moves against smaller edge rushers in pass protection, so it is tough to picture him holding up against defensive tackles on the inside. In the run game, he doesn’t create much movement when working to the inside on defensive tackles.
This proposition is most likely not on the table.
Start Fant at RT, move Moses to RG
As I broke down in detail, Moses has a skill set that could allow him to enjoy a very successful transition to guard.
Moses is a bigger, stronger tackle who thrives against power moves in pass protection and does his best work as a run blocker when working to the inside on larger defenders. Those two skills translate well to the guard position. Conversely, Moses does not have the greatest mobility, which you typically want your tackles to have in Mike LaFleur‘s outside zone running scheme. Fant does offer that athleticism, making him a more enticing fit in the offense at tackle.
I believe this path would be the best way to maximize the talent on the roster in the event of a Moses signing, but Moses might not have any desire to play guard. Tackles are paid significantly more than guards in the NFL, so the veteran probably isn’t going to switch positions and decrease his earning potential unless his hand is forced and teams are only interested in having him start at guard (which seems unlikely considering the dearth of tackle talent in the league).
If I were playing Madden, this is how I’d divvy it up. It is hard to imagine Moses would accept a guard role, though.
Start Moses at RT, use Fant as the backup swing tackle
The Jets could simply slide Moses in at right tackle and relegate Fant to the bench.
This would still be a great move for the health of the roster, as the Jets are very light on tackle depth at the moment. Beyond Fant and Mekhi Becton, the only other tackles on the team with starting experience are Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott, who have combined for a measly 15 career starts and have generally performed badly.
Having Fant with the second team as the first option to fill in at either left tackle or right tackle would be tremendous for the unit’s depth.
Over the course of his career, Fant has played 1,253 snaps at left tackle and 831 snaps at right tackle, so he has plenty of experience at both positions.
Fant’s two-way experience is not the only advantage that comes with having him as a backup. He also offers the rare bonus of being able to line up as an extra offensive lineman/tight end in certain packages.
From 2018-19, Fant came onto the field as a sixth lineman/tight end on 450 snaps for the Seahawks, the most in the NFL among offensive linemen over that span (and more than twice as many as the second-ranked player).
That’s a ton of playing time for such a unique role that very few teams utilize. When not starting on the offensive line, Fant was placed on the field as a “tight end” for an average of 15.5 snaps per game, playing as many as 41 snaps in one game as a pseudo-tight end. It was a job that worked great for him, as most of the highest-graded performances in his career came in games where he was playing this role.
It’s worth noting that the 49ers did not regularly utilize any of their offensive linemen in this role over the course of Mike LaFleur’s four years there under Kyle Shanahan.
Start Moses and bench Fant (with pay-cut)
If the Jets go with the previous option and start Moses at right tackle while utilizing Fant as a backup, they may want to reduce Fant’s cap number to accommodate the change in his role, just as they did with Jamison Crowder.
Fant is entering the second year of his three-year, $27.3 million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus and $13.7 million guaranteed. He will have a cap hit of $9.8 million in 2021, which is currently set to rank fifth-highest among right tackles and 16th among all offensive tackles.
Obviously, that number would be very high for a backup. The Jets would certainly explore the idea of bringing Fant’s number down.
Releasing Fant is not a realistic option, as cutting him now would result in a $6.45 million dead money hit spread over two years ($5.45M in 2021 and $1.0M in 2022) versus only $4.4 million in immediate cap savings. Negotiating a restructured deal might be the best bet.
It would be a little more difficult to come to an agreement on a restructure with Fant than it was with Crowder, as Crowder had almost no leverage while Fant has a decent amount of it, but the Jets may still at least explore the possibility.
Start Moses and trade Fant
The Jets could look for a tackle-needy team that would be willing to give up compensation for Fant. Trading Fant would make much more sense financially than releasing him, as trading him would net the Jets $8.8 million in immediate cap savings while costing them only $2 million in dead money ($1M in 2021 and $1M in 2022).
Ultimately, the most feasible scenario would seem to be starting Moses at right tackle while having Fant serve as the backup swing tackle and coming to an agreement with him on a contract restructure.
There are a lot of options, though, and that would be the beauty of the Moses signing. While he may not be a superstar offensive lineman who would provide a gargantuan upgrade, he would simply represent the addition of one more talented player to the unit, which is excellent for competition and depth purposes. Plus, he’d become by far the most experienced lineman on the roster, bringing wisdom to the table that could be beneficial for young linemen like Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Cameron Clark. Even Fant could benefit.
It is unfortunate for Fant that he may not get the chance to show what he can do as a Week 1 starter in LaFleur’s wide-zone running scheme, which is a great fit for him, but the Jets would be remiss if they did not attempt to bring in an accomplished, durable, and productive veteran at a position of great importance.