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Should NY Jets trade for an offensive lineman before the deadline?

Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans
Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans, Getty Images

After the James Robinson trade, speculation abounds that Joe Douglas will make another move

The New York Jets announced themselves as trade deadline buyers when they acquired running back James Robinson. It’s the first time in the Joe Douglas era that the Jets have been looking to add talent via trade rather than draft picks.

However, the Jets lost two of their most important players on Sunday, and they have yet to find a replacement for arguably the more valuable of the two. Alijah Vera-Tucker played three different offensive line positions this season, and he played all of them admirably. Suddenly, he’s gone, and with that went the Jets’ most ferocious run-blocker and most reliable pass-blocker.

Deal or no deal?

Does Joe Douglas want to give up more assets for a trade? Does he think that anyone is available at a reasonable price? It’s hard to imagine that the savvy GM would give up earlier draft picks for anyone, no matter how good. That leaves a lower level of player available.

This question depends on a few factors. First of all, when will George Fant and/or Max Mitchell return?

Fant was hideous in action through three games, allowing an 8.9% pressure rate (the average for tackles is 5.3%), including two sacks. However, it was pretty apparent that his knee was never right following offseason surgery. His current stint on injured reserve is for that injury. If he does fully heal, you can bring him back and slot him in at right tackle, where he can hopefully do at least a decent job.

What if Mitchell returns? He wasn’t quite as bad as Fant, particularly when considering that he is a fourth-round rookie who was considered a developmental prospect. Mitchell’s 7.1% pressure rate was well worse than average. However, if the Jets now consider him their right tackle of the future, they may want to get him more snaps rather than giving them to Fant, who is a free agent following this season and is unlikely to return.

Cedric Ogbuehi, the Jets’ current right tackle following Alijah Vera-Tucker’s injury, played well in his debut, allowing one pressure on 23 pass snaps (4.3%). However, in 2020, the last time Ogbuehi saw meaningful snaps, he registered a 7.7% pressure rate (168 snaps). Do the Jets want to ride with him until Fant and Mitchell return? Do they know how long that is going to be?

Tackle or guard… or both?

The names I discussed above are the Jets’ tackles, and the team has virtually no backups at the position. Right now, they have Mike Remmers, a fellow practice squad signee along with Ogbuehi, as their lone backup. That makes trading for a tackle a natural need.

However, it’s important to remember that with AVT out, the Jets don’t have much depth at guard, either. Nate Herbig is a below-average starter (although he’s only at a 4.0% pressure rate currently), and Laken Tomlinson has been mostly very poor this year (6.4% pressure rate with a league average of 4.9% for guards). Beyond them, the only other option on the roster is Dan Feeney, who is also the backup center. The Jets are razor-thin along the offensive line.

Do the Jets choose to wait out the return of Fant and/or Mitchell and trade for a guard instead? If so, it would clearly be either a backup or a right guard, since they’re not going to bench their $40 million man, underachieving though he may be.

Technically, the Jets could choose to trade for both, but I find that exceedingly unlikely. Joe Douglas does not like to bare the cupboard.

Names to keep an eye on

Andre Dillard, Eagles, LT

The Eagles’ first-round pick in 2019, Andre Dillard has been thrown around in trade rumors since the offseason. Jordan Mailata is the Eagles’ stalwart along the offensive line, rendering Dillard unnecessary. It should be possible to acquire him for a fifth- or sixth-round pick, possibly a conditional pick like the one the Jets traded for Robinson.

Dillard’s cap hit this season is $3.94 million, which means the Jets would be on the hook for roughly $2.3 million in cap this season. He is an unrestricted free agent following the year.

The biggest question about Dillard is his actual capability as an NFL starter. In relatively limited action, Dillard has been mostly horrific as a pass-blocker. For his career, Dillard has allowed an enormous 10.4% pressure rate, including 8% in 2021. He was also called for seven penalties on just 340 snaps that year.

Is Dillard any better than Max Mitchell right now? Frankly, I don’t think so. If Mitchell will be back in the next few weeks, I’d rather see Duane Brown and Mitchell at the tackle spots than Brown and Dillard or even Dillard and Mitchell.

Jack Conklin, Browns, RT

Jack Conklin has been a solid tackle throughout his career. This season, he’s allowed just eight pressures in 186 pass protection snaps, a 4.3% pressure rate that’s significantly below the average for tackles. He would be an upgrade and a piece that the Jets would want to have as part of their team.

The first problem with trading for Conklin is his contract. His cap hit this year is $11 million, which, even prorated for the remainder of the season, is quite high. Even though he’s a free agent after this season, there are two void years on his deal, which means he has a dead cap hit of $6 million in 2023 and another $3 million in 2024. With Duane Brown’s contract already structured that way and C.J. Mosley’s restructure, it’s highly unlikely the Jets would want to take on another potentially thorny contract.

More importantly, I can’t imagine the Browns giving up Conklin for less than a second- or third-round pick. I don’t think Joe Douglas would want to do that.

Taylor Moton, Panthers, RT

I haven’t heard this name thrown around too much, but it’s worth at least writing here. The Panthers have put several players up for sale, although their prices are reported to be ridiculous. The haul they got for Christian McCaffrey is astonishing, and the fact that they turned down two first-round picks for Brian Burns is eye-opening.

Moton’s cap hit is $7.9 million in 2022 and $24.54 million in 2023-25. Although there is base salary to convert into a bonus and spread out over a few years, those numbers are likely cost prohibitive.

Moton has been good in pass-blocking at right tackle this year, allowing just a 4.1% pressure rate and only one sack. However, his contract, coupled with the assets Douglas would have to give up for him, make him a highly unlikely option.

Laremy Tunsil, Texans, LT

This one has generated the most buzz, as Laremy Tunsil is known to be one of the best left tackles in football. This season, Tunsil is at it again, with no sacks allowed and a minuscule 2.6% pressure rate.

However, whenever we discuss a left tackle who’s never played right tackle, we’re brought to the dilemma of what to do with Duane Brown. Brown has never played right tackle, and it makes little sense to move him there. Essentially, Brown would become Tunsil’s backup, and Ogbuehi would remain the right tackle until the return of Fant or Mitchell. It would certainly shore up the left side of the line and likely elevate the play of Laken Tomlinson, but it would leave other issues in its wake.

Tunsil has a cap hit of $17.7 million in 2022 and $35.2 million in 2023. That would mean an automatic restructure. However, Tunsil is said to be unhappy with his deal and would likely want more money. The Jets’ GM is not known for his maneuverability from his price.

Speaking of that price, the cost to acquire Tunsil would be hefty in and of itself. It’s been said that Houston would want a first-round pick for him. Theoretically, if the Jets had planned on taking a tackle in the first round next year, it could be worth having the proven commodity over the unknown. However, Tunsil’s price, along with rumors about his poor locker room presence (he held out due to his displeasure with his deal), make the chances very slim that he becomes a New York Jet.

Dalton Risner, Broncos, LG

The Jets just saw Dalton Risner this past week, and they weren’t too impressed with the three pressures he allowed in 50 pass-blocking snaps (6% rate). However, on the season, Risner has a 4.3% rate, which is still above average for guards (4.9%).

Risner is 27 years old and has a cap hit of $3.6 million this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the year, and he’s likely set for a nice payday. Risner’s career-worst mark in pressure rate is 4.5%, indicating that he is an above-average pass-blocker. However, he’s a left guard, which means that either he or Laken Tomlinson would need to move over.

The biggest issue with trading for Risner is that the Jets likely have no interest in re-signing him unless they plan on keeping Alijah Vera-Tucker at tackle. After all, as bad as he’s been, Tomlinson has an $8.5 million dead cap number next year, so he’s not budging from his guard position.

If the Jets decide to move AVT to tackle full-time, then a guard spot would open up and the Jets could re-sign Risner. However, giving up what will likely be a mid-round pick for a guard who will play half a season isn’t the kind of business that Joe Douglas generally likes to do.

My prediction

It’s hard to make a prediction without knowing the long-term status of both Max Mitchell and George Fant. However, my guess is that Douglas will acquire none of the guys listed above. If he does make any moves, it will likely be for backups that cost very little.

However, if Mitchell and Fant are both expected to miss additional extended periods of time, then maybe Douglas does go with the “all gas, no brake” mentality and make a move. I just don’t see any options, at least from the ones that have been listed, that would make sense for the Jets.

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Peter Buell
1 year ago

Tonsil has the talent but everything else seems to point to a pass on him.
We went into this season with one of the big objectives fo ding put if Wilson can be a top 15 QB.
last week he was chased by 3 defenders way way too often.
. If OL isn’t at the top of the list next year, it should be.
If we can find a good starter who won’t put us in salary cap he’ll ot should and must be done.
We may not be one player away from the Bills and KC but maybe 4 or 5. Keeping Zack upright and heading forward instead of backward is well worth a 2nd round pick.
When AVT comes back we’re one player closer.
It an expense we didn’t expect this year but how do we go into an NFL game with no backups on the OL.
A starter is needed and maybe someone has use for Mims White or even Usomah. Conklin seems entrenched and with a dominant D there are plenty of teams fighting for a playoff spot with thier defense as thier calling card.
If contracts need to be restructured..do it. No backups and no free agents to be. Bring in quality that is controlled….or wait till next year because Wilson will be running for hid life.

Peter Buell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Thanks for the perspective.akes alot of sense. if Zack can’t play then we’re missing the the engine or maybe in today’s world, the battery pack.
It’s a chicken and egg situation imo. We need to find out if Zach can be at least a QB who can lead an otherwise very good team to the promise land.
He has to be the Kirk Cousins or better that the Jets were after 4 or so years ago.
Anything less the that is a fail. Joe had brought in so much talent in the later rounds (which obviously saves capital and cash)
Currently at 28 and ranked the 6th ranked tackle in some places, thus might be the right player at the right time to take a shot in working out a deal where he will be here 3/4 years.
We keep dreaming about Bechton but we need to look at him as a plus if he ever stays healthy.
Despite how badly I want a stud on the line after the bye maybe Joe can leave it to fate.
If they take a 2nd rounder or 2nd rounder plus Mims you pull the trigger assuming a deal with Tinsik is agreed on. If not, we’ll need to move on.
Rivka, it’s funny to think that a Jets second round pick won’t be way up there after so many years of draft position being the biggest thing we had to root for.
Thanks again!
PS: Zack breaks out this week!! 😉

Jim G
1 year ago

Deadline trades only seem to make sense in a few instances: where one team is “one player away” and the other team is selling; where one team just needs a leg up on its division rivals; where one team is really desperate.

I don’t see the Jets being in any of these situations. They aren’t one player away from being competitive with the Chiefs or Bills. They seem to be doing just fine in their division (we may confirm or refute that Sunday). They aren’t desperate enough to mortgage the future.

So, you are probably right. It may be best to use the players they have, let the coaches coach them up and hope for the best until the cavalry returns.

1 year ago

I don’t see JD adding an OT or OG for the reasons you outlined above, but more importantly, there is a scarcity of good OL in the NFL, and I don’t see any team trading a starter or quality backup. The only OL they’d be willing to trade would be older, more expensive OL on the downside of their career who is not in their plans. Such an OL would not help the Jets at all. Unless someone else goes down with an injury (God forbid), they’re just going to have to make do with what they have.

Peter Buell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

For the right price Is take either. Conklin a 5 that can turn into a 4. Tonsil will cost on both ends but he might just be worth it if we can get him for a wnd rounder or maybe a 2nd rounder plus Mims
Alot would depend on the deal that can be worked out with Laremy. If we’re giving up a 2nd I’d like him here for 3/4 years at age 28.
Given the roster construct we probably take a lineman in the first round next year. The expensive contract is the price we pay to keep the 1st round pick and the comfort in knowing we’re getting a stud and getting him when needed most.
Funny feeling when you think a Jets early round pick isn’t gold since we’ve become so accomtomed to picking early.

1 year ago

I agree w/ what seems to be the majority here; sit tight.
As Matt said, we were not expected to even be sniffing the playoffs, so to have a “win now” perspective makes little sense. We are ahead of schedule, at least in my opinion.
Of course, if Joe can pull another rabbit w/o mortgaging the future or screwing up the dead cap that he’s worked so well at reducing, then go get it. As someone else said, we need OL in the draft, a proven commodity is better than an educated guess (see Becton).

1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

I disagree. Anyone worth trading for (young, a quality player, and cheap) is not going to be traded. I questioned trading for a RB with so many OL already lost to injury. At some point, regardless of your W-L record, one has to accept that this is not going to be one’s year and just bite the bullet. I applaud JD’s wanting to show the players he believes in them, has their back, and wants to keep winning, at some point, one is simply throwing good money after bad (or draft picks). The Jets may not even make the playoffs this year. They are not getting to or winning the SB. With so many of their top players hurt, imo, JD should save any more draft capital until the draft, and not mortgage the future going all in on this season when it’s not going to bear fruit worthy of the cost.

Peter Buell
1 year ago

I mentioned yesterday I’m not well versed in NFL trades

could pur together a nice 3 team trade with my other sports love,tge Mets bit football with all the other implications like dead money and how it relates to the cap etc.
Tp keep it simple, the Jets could spend the first second and 6th round picks next year and it wouldn’t be wasteful.
In 7 games so far its obvious the line and safety, although safety has improved are big spots for improvements.
I think we’re a year ahead of schedule but that’s coming from both draft pi
reforming ell above what can be expected and hitting on important free agents.
So much of the adds on the offensive side were brought in to help Zach grow and see what he can do with weapons.
Wete not going to know much if he is running for his life like last week.
Since I beleive we will need to address the line next year anyway with early picks/, if a T Or G in his 2nd year on a team going nowhere, Browns come to mind, JD might as well use a higher pick to get that guy now as long as it’s a significant upgrade and dosent kill the cap.
Just thought from an NFL trade novice

Peter Buell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Rivka, Was referring to baseball with the 3 team trade because there are less variables to it.
I’m aggressive by nature but given the extreme need and also needing to know if Zack can play like he did late in the Pittsburg game, a 2nd rounder plus Mims would make sense if a deal that is livable as it relates to the cap and he is here for the next 4 years though age 32, I would be hoping JD pulls the trigger.
. My thought process is we’re getting better than a top 10 T and the pricey contract is what we pay to keep next years 1st rounder
Tunsil steps right in and is proven where a 1st rounder next year who’s cost is less could also bust.

1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

Trading their 1s, 2nd & 6th round picks is a horrible idea imo, and would be total malfeasance on JD’s part. They’re not getting to or winning the SB this season. Yes, we might make the playoffs, but even if so, more than likely we’ll be one and done. Mortgaging the future for that is not worth it and would hurt the team going forward. No team is going to trade a topflight starter. This isn’t the NBA of MLB where trades are made deep into the season to help bolster a team for their playoff run. Few, if any, teams have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, except maybe the Bears, and they’re starting to show some life.

Peter Buell
1 year ago
Reply to  ncjetsfan

who said 1st 2nd and 6th. If I can get Tunsil on a 4 year deal that dosent break the cap, I do it for a 2nd rounder and Mims.
We’re 4 or 5 pieces away and can’t expect to get the talent from the draft we did the past two years.
We would spend a 1st rounder next year on the line. With Tunsil we get a top 6 T while a 1st next year may take time to develop or even bust.
Someone has to keep Zack from having 3 guys racing after him on too many plays.

1 year ago

I like the idea of Conklin trade, he’s young and great. He has injury history but I would suggest giving a 4 maybe a conditional 3 but he would have to resign and restructure his contract. He could be our starting RT for the next 5-8 years potentially.

I also like the idea of Moton who didn’t cross my mind, if the price is right. But like you said, I don’t think it will be reasonable.

Last edited 1 year ago by dudizt
1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

The reason I think may go for it is because I’m not sure if they can resign him in the off-season with the contracts they have. If they lose Monday, they will be 2-6 and even Watson coming back, they’d be most likely out of playoff picture. Better to get something then nothing.

I could be wrong but JD has worked magic before.

Peter Buell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Joe needs two more years of nailing it before the fairy dust fades.
Couldn’t have imagined we’d get a guy in here to make us respectable plus so soon

Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

I don’t think JD makes any moves here. I think we can beat NE with Ogbuehi, and we probably can’t beat Buffalo even with AVT. We should get at least one of Fant or Mitchell back after the bye. Let’s just ride it out.

1 year ago

I’m with you…ride it out. This is still a developing team, and I have to believe Mitchell and Fant will be back at some point. This game is huge, as you mention Buff is a tall task no matter, not saying it’s a “throw away” game but there is a bye after that. I have to believe one if not both the OT’s will be back after the bye.

I also think there’s some interest in seeing what Ogbuehi can do. He has some experience, was a first round pick, and they say he’s athletic so he may be serviceable if not solid in this system.

Herbig is still young and they like what he brings to the table, he could still be improving. No season should be regarded as a throw away at this point but I do think they are still “developing” make no move and develop what you have. Even if it causes some growing pains.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

I really have no faith in Ogbuehi, he was on the practice squad for the Texans before this. Hope I’m proven wrong but not a gamble I would take.

As with everything, it comes down to the trade value. But I would be targeting a younger guy like Moton or Conklin who we can resign and keep for the next 2-4 years. Going into next year, we have no tackles in place. Duane will be 38-39 coming off shoulder surgery, Fant is a FA, Becton is coming off another surgery and can’t be relied upon, and Mitchell is hopeful but I wouldn’t want to guarantee him anything. If we could sure up one spot now, it would make it easier this off-season.

Matt Galemmo
1 year ago

I’m having a blast watching this team and would love for it to continue. That said, I was not expecting a wildcard this year, and I have to remember that. I’ve already seen everything I had hoped to see in just seven games, save one thing: Zach is still a question mark.

But if you break Zach down further, he’s only a question mark under pressure. Crazy as it sounds, some reps with a 20th-ish ranked line might be good for him. If Fant and Mitchell are will be back week 11, 20th might even be a little bearish.

So if Fant and Mitchell will be back, I think let it go as is. It might be ugly at times, and there may be a loss or two that could’ve been different, but so be it. It’s a bummer, but injuries always are.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Zach has issues to work on and needs to play better, but I’m so tired of Jets fans and Jets’ media trashing Zach, yet that idiot MLF gets a pass. His playcalling is often awful. He does little to help Zach get into a rhythm. His play design is either often bad, or the WRs and TEs aren’t executing the way they are supposed to which gives Zach little or no option as to where to throw the ball. Jets WRs, RBs, and Conklin are still dropping passes. They’ve dropped something like 4-5 TD passes so far. Also, Hall was stopped twice at the 1 yard line. Zach is neither a pocket passer, nor a game manager, and asking him to play like one is totally stupid on MLF’s part. Wise HCs and OCs adapt their systems to the talents of their QB and players. They aren’t rigid and try to force square pegs into round holes. Look at what Baltimore did with Lamar Jackson. Look at what Brian Daboll is doing with the Giants. I guarantee you that if we had a better offensive scheme and Daboll as our HC, Zach would be lighting it up.