Fant, the presumed favorite to be the Jets left tackle, is entering the final season of his three-year deal
Fant would like his due after putting up a career year on the quarterback’s blind side in 2021. Last season, Fant put up a 71.1 Pro Football Focus grade. That included a career-best 75.1 pass-blocking grade, which ranked 25th among 66 qualified tackles.
Fant took to Twitter to express his displeasure with his own situation following Minkah Fitzpatrick’s four-year extension with the Steelers, saying, “Must be nice.”
Jets general manager Joe Douglas does not appear to be in a hurry to lock up the offensive line cornerstone. He may want to see whether 2021 was a one-hit wonder taking advantage of lesser competition or an actual career ascension.
Additionally, with the uncertainty regarding Mekhi Becton‘s long-term status on this team, Douglas may not want to commit to left tackle money for Fant. It is plausible that he still thinks of Becton as the long-term answer on the blind side. Fant may have a leg-up for the position in 2022, but Becton is younger and has more upside.
Possible contract terms
If a deal were to happen before Week 1, what would it possibly look like?
PFF has Fant listed as a player “likely” to sign a contract extension before the season begins. After describing the conundrum regarding Fant’s position, this is what they had to say about a possible extension:
Contract Projection: Three years, $35 million ($11.67M per year), $19 million total guaranteed.”
The average annual value is not that far off from Laken Tomlinson’s ($13.3 million), though with less guaranteed money. Meanwhile, Tomlinson is coming off a Pro Bowl season, albeit at a less premium position.
Although Jet X-Factor’s Michael Nania already detailed legitimate reasons to believe in Fant’s 2021 breakout, he also advised that it is best to proceed with caution before anointing Fant the long-term left tackle.
My guess is that, despite PFF’s prediction, Douglas will not actually sign Fant before the season begins. With premier edge rushers such as Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, and Trey Hendrickson on tap for three weeks of the first four weeks of the season, the Jets will get a good look at Fant’s true ceiling.
If Fant proves himself up to the task, Douglas has already shown himself willing to deal during the season. He signed stud defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers to a four-year, $55 million extension in October of last season.
If Fant struggles out of the gate, Douglas will have a decision to make, both during the season and afterward.
While Fant’s desire for financial security is understandable, he has the opportunity to let his actions speak louder than words.