The Jets made offensive tackle Ben Ijalana a free agent on Monday after they failed to exercise his player option.
New York did not exercise Ijalana's $500,000 option bonus that would have activated his $4.5 million base salary for the 2018 season. By doing so, the Jets will save a total of $4.6 million.
Ijalana, who has been a Jet since 2013, has appeared in 27 games for the Jets over the past two seasons, including 13 starts in 2016. He has appeared in 34 games since making his NFL debut with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011.
The Jets can still bring back the 28-year-old Ijalana through free agency.
It hasn't even been a year since the Jets signed Ijalana to a two-year, $10.25 million contract with the hopes that he could be their right tackle in the future. But he lost the job to Brandon Shell, and barely played for the Jets last season.
That made this decision a no-brainer. The 28-year-old Ijalana would've counted for $5.9 million againast the Jets' cap, and they save more than $4.6 million of that by releasing him now. They also still have the option of bringing him back at a lesser price if they want. The 6-foot-4, 322-pounder does have some potential, and he's not likely to attract much interest on the market more than a minimum-salaried deal.
The Jets do have bigger priorities on the line in free agency, though. Centers Wes Johnson and Jonatthon Harrison are both free agents, as is backup lineman Dakota Dozier. Backup tackle Brent Qvale is also a restricted free agent. All of them are higher priorities than Ijalana on the Jets' list.