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2 players hold the keys to NY Jets’ offseason

Joe Douglas
Joe Douglas

The New York Jets’ 2024 offseason plan will revolve around two of their young offensive linemen

The beginning of free agency is hours away.

For the New York Jets, the upcoming offseason will be a critical turning point for both the present and future. With their jobs potentially in jeopardy, Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh’s regime must ensure that the team is in a good position to compete in 2024.

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To make contending at the highest level a reality, the Jets need to upgrade their offensive line considerably. They have three voids in their starting lineup and must address the unit’s overall depth.

The specific positions of need, though, are predicated on the team’s two remaining offensive line starters.

New York’s Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann, the team’s two best offensive linemen, arguably hold the keys to the team’s offseason plan.

It all boils down to the players’ versatility along the offensive line.

Vera-Tucker, a USC product, was initially drafted to play left guard for New York. He had played left tackle during his final season in college but was immediately moved off that position due to his significantly below-average arm size.

Vera-Tucker did not stay at guard for long. In 2022, he filled in at both tackle positions after the Jets suffered injuries along their unit. The 2023 season brought more of the same, as Vera-Tucker filled in at right tackle due to injuries.

The 13th overall pick of the 2021 draft did miss large chunks of the 2022 and 2023 seasons with a torn triceps and torn Achilles, respectively. Despite the question marks surrounding his durability, Vera-Tucker has shown that he can play at a high level at guard and tackle.

In the running game, Vera-Tucker consistently cleared paths for the Jets’ running backs. As a pass blocker, Vera-Tucker held his own and looked comfortable at both positions.

Similarly, Joe Tippmann was drafted out of Wisconsin to play center for the Jets in his rookie year. Instead of staying at one position, though, the rookie split time between his drafted position and right guard. Tippmann began the season at right guard over his first four starts before moving to center for his next 10 starts.

The Wisconsin product was able to hold up in both areas of the game despite not staying at one position. He showed plenty of promise to give the team hope that he would develop into a long-term solution.

At this point of the offseason, a long-term home for both players has not been decided on. As a result, the versatility of Vera-Tucker and Tippmann could allow the Jets to adjust the types of moves they make.

If Vera-Tucker plays at tackle and Tippmann plays guard, the Jets could have their offensive line’s left or right side locked down long-term. This would allow the team to attack the veteran free agent market for offensive linemen, targeting players such as Tyron Smith at tackle, Robert Hunt at guard, and Mason Cole at center. The same could apply if Tippmann plays center, as the team would have to address the other guard spot.

Essentially, this scenario would open up the Jets to a multitude of options in the draft. By having their starters taken care of, they could focus heavily on upgrading their weapons or have a BPA approach.

On the other hand, the Jets could opt to keep Vera-Tucker and Tippmann on the inside. This would likely mean the Jets would have to address both offensive tackle spots externally, along with either a guard or center.

Regardless of New York’s approach, Tippmann and Vera-Tucker will have a huge influence on the Jets’ offseason. Wherever the coaching staff slots them in, they will impact how the team approaches free agency, the draft, and trades.

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