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Former NY Jets left tackle addresses potential free agency reunion

George Fant
George Fant

Could George Fant return to the New York Jets?

A former three-year starter for the New York Jets, George Fant is poised to be one of the more appealing offensive tackle options on the 2024 free agent market. Fant, 31, has logged 73 career starts across both sides of the line and is coming off a solid season with the upstart AFC South champion Houston Texans.

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Fant subtly addressed the potential of a reunion with his former team. Fant chastised an article that claimed the Jets should avoid him in free agency.

Fant signed a three-year, $27.3 million with the Jets in 2020. Following the conclusion of that contract, Fant joined the Texans on a one-year, $3 million deal. He ended up playing a key role in the surprising breakout of a young Houston team.

Fant was named Houston’s opening-week starting right tackle and would make 15 starts at the position (which includes two playoff games). His strong pass protection was an important cog in helping to facilitate C.J. Stroud’s phenomenal rookie season.

In the regular season, Fant allowed just three sacks and four hits across 559 pass-blocking snaps. This means he allowed a sack or a hit on just 1.25% of his pass-blocking snaps, which ranked 24th-best out of 83 qualified tackles. Fant still looks good if you evaluate him based on total pressures; with 30 total pressures allowed (3 sacks, 4 hits, 23 hurries), his pressure rate was 5.4%, placing 29th-best out of 83 qualifiers.

Fant was instrumental in the Texans’ blowout win over Cleveland in the playoffs. He allowed zero pressures on 23 pass-blocking snaps, helping the Houston offensive line hold Myles Garrett to three pressures (his third-fewest of the season).

Here’s Fant holding Garrett in check to help set up a crucial third-and-6 deep bomb on Houston’s opening drive of the game.

While Fant had an up-and-down tenure with the Jets, he showed the ability to be an excellent player when healthy.

In the 2021 season, Fant was absolutely stellar in pass protection, enjoying one of the most effective pass-blocking seasons by a Jets tackle since blocking statistics became available. On 594 pass-blocking snaps, Fant allowed 18 total pressures (3.0% pressure rate), including just one sack and three hits (0.67% sack-plus-hit rate).

A former college basketball player, Fant has unique athleticism for an offensive lineman, which he uses to his advantage on the field. Fant has quick feet when getting into his pass set. This helps him keep rushers in front of him so he can frame them and accurately shoot his hands into their chest.

The impact of Fant’s athleticism was on full display throughout the 2021 season. On many of the Jets’ best offensive plays of the season, you could see Fant holding his own on the blind side.

Fant’s 2022 campaign was marred by injuries. He missed nine games and was playing hurt every time he was on the field.

But in each of his last two seasons where he stayed reasonably healthy, Fant was a valuable starting tackle in pass protection. He enters the 2024 free agent market offering a reliable track record of pass-blocking production when healthy.

For a Jets team that needs to protect Aaron Rodgers by any means necessary, Fant’s pass protection makes him a very appealing option. He looks especially enticing amidst a paper-thin market of free agent tackles. Outside of Tyron Smith and Mike Onwenu, the Jets aren’t going to find someone who is definitively better in pass protection.

New York should certainly consider inquiring about a reunion. It’s just a matter of whether Fant would even be interested in coming back after the Jets didn’t show much interest in retaining him last year.

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4 months ago

He was injured and it clearly bothered him, with the Jets. He is also a late bloomer in that he started playing football later in his athletic life. I’ll use the same guidelines I have with other players…he’s better than the guys they have, so they can use him.