Will Laurent Duvernay-Tardif return to the New York Jets?
One of the most notable New York Jets players set to hit free agency in the 2022 offseason is veteran guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. The 30-year-old (he’ll turn 31 on Feb. 11) was a spark plug for the Jets offensive line after being acquired in a mid-season trade and starting seven games.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets are expected to have interest in retaining Duvernay-Tardif, although they will likely not be overly aggressive in the pursuit.
“Duvernay-Tardif isn’t a long-term answer, but you can win with him. Look for them to take a wait-and-see approach,” Cimini writes in a Thursday report.
Duvernay-Tardif was acquired from Kansas City in exchange for tight end Daniel Brown ahead of the Jets’ Week 9 game against the Colts. He would make his Jets debut in Week 10 on special teams and would make his first start the following week against the Miami Dolphins, replacing Greg Van Roten at right guard.
The right guard spot is the only gaping hole on the Jets’ offensive line entering the offseason. New York has returning starters at left guard and center in Alijah Vera-Tucker and Connor McGovern, respectively. The team also has two starting-caliber tackles in Mekhi Becton and George Fant, though their exact roles are undetermined as the duo is expected to compete for the left tackle spot.
There are many different ways the Jets could go about trying to fill that right guard spot. With $48.1 million in cap space, per Over The Cap (fifth-most in the NFL), the Jets could begin free agency by pursuing a top-end free agent guard like Brandon Scherff, Connor Williams, or Laken Tomlinson with the plan to fall back on Duvernay-Tardif if they fail to reel in a big fish.
However, Duvernay-Tardif showed he still has starter-quality ability in 2021, so he will likely field competitive offers from other teams early in the free-agency period. He might not last long enough for the Jets to use him as a fallback.
It’s also possible New York simply decides to pursue Duvernay-Tardif with the idea of penciling him in as the starting right guard, aiming to build upon the late-season momentum the offensive line was building near the end of 2021.
Another possibility is the Jets moving McGovern to guard and adding a new center. McGovern played right guard for the Broncos over his first two NFL seasons.
The draft is another factor in all of this. When the Jets come on the clock at No. 4 in the first round, it’s very possible their selection could be an offensive lineman; likely Alabama’s Evan Neal or North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu. Both players were tackles in 2021 but appear capable of kicking inside to guard. Additionally, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum is considered one of the best prospects at his position in recent memory and could be in play with the Jets’ No. 10 pick.
There are certainly a vast number of directions the Jets could go with the offensive line over the coming months. Duvernay-Tardif is one of the most important chess pieces in the equation.