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Should NY Jets pursue free agent OL Connor Williams?

Connor Williams, NY Jets, Free Agent, Center
Connor Williams, New York Jets, Getty Images

Interior offensive line depth is still a need for the New York Jets

This offseason has been a successful one for the New York Jets. Most notably, they bolstered their offensive line by trading for RT Morgan Moses, signing LT Tyron Smith and G John Simpson, and drafting LT Olu Fashanu.

Despite the many additions up front, the Jets could still afford to strengthen the depth on the interior of their offensive line. As Jets X-Factor’s Rivka Boord recently broke down, New York lacks a proven backup on the interior outside of Wes Schweitzer.

The Jets’ offensive line struggled with injuries last season, resulting in a league-high 13 different line combinations. As they seek to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers as effectively as possible, they need to be prepared to deal with injuries.

Former Jets center Connor McGovern is an option to shore up the Jets’ interior depth, but another notable player from the AFC East remains on the market. That player is center Connor Williams, who most recently played for the Jets’ divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Williams “is in discussions with multiple teams” and expects to be ready for the start of the 2024 season.

If you had told me nine months ago that Williams would still be available at the end of June, I would have called you crazy. Before a season-ending ACL tear in Week 14, Williams was playing like arguably the best center in the NFL. Pro Football Focus scored Williams with an 86.5 overall grade, which led all centers through Week 14. He had an even more impressive grade of 90.5 as a run blocker.

Despite tearing his ACL on December 11, Williams is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Why the Jets should show interest in Williams

Williams is a player who should certainly attract the attention of Jets general manager Joe Douglas.

While the Jets’ tackle positions are secured, concerns remain about the depth of the interior. Outside of eighth-year veteran Wes Schweitzer, the Jets’ next-best backups on the interior include unproven players like Xavier Newman, Chris Glaser, and Jake Hanson. Williams could help shore up the second-string unit if he’s willing to take on a backup role coming off a serious knee injury.

A second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, the Texas product has six years of NFL experience. Williams has appeared in 83 games while starting 77, offering experience at all three positions on the interior. He split time between both guard spots as a rookie before exclusively playing left guard over his next three seasons in Dallas. When he signed with Miami in 2022, he moved to center, where he remained for the entirety of the past two seasons.

Williams’ versatility will allow him to back up multiple positions. That would be key for the Jets, as right guard Alijah Vera-Tucker has missed 22 games over the past two seasons. Williams would not only provide an upgrade at the backup center spot behind Joe Tippmann, but he could fill in for Vera-Tucker in a pinch as well.

The main reason Williams remains available is the uncertainty of his health as he recovers from an ACL injury. If teams believe in Williams’ health, he will likely land a starting role somewhere, which he deserves based on his play last season. In this case, the Jets would be ruled out as an option.

However, if the concerns about Williams’ health force him to settle for a backup role, the Jets should be highly interested.

Regardless of whether they sign Williams, the Jets’ only hole on the offensive line is their interior depth. However they choose to do it, the Jets would be wise to address the issue before the season opener.

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