The Jets weren't very aggressive in what was a shallow free agent market for centers back in March. They seemed content to go with Jonotthan Harrison at that position. Or at least former GM Mike Maccagnan did.
But coach Adam Gase was reportedly uncomfortable with that decision, and now new GM Joe Douglas found a solution. In the GM's first big splash since he was hired in June, he lured Ryan Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowl center, out of retirement on Thursday.
And that could be a huge boost to the Jets' offensive line.
The fact that it costs the Jets $8.4 million for one season is yet another sign they are thinking and planning as if they are a playoff contender this season. They know they have an outstanding young quarterback and seemingly enough weapons. But the one big question they've had is whether they can adequately protect Sam Darnold, and block for running back Le'Veon Bell.
Could Harrison, a sixth-year pro, had done the job? Probably. He's a fine player, but he projects more as a backup or a spot starter. And the truth is, on a line that features left tackle Kelvin Beachum, left guard Kelechi Osemele, right guard Brian Winters and right tackle Brandon Shell, Harrison was the weakest link.
The 34-year-old Kalil could be the missing piece to that line and turn it from a question mark into a potential strength for the Jets. That possibility makes him more than worth the risk for Douglas and Gase.
And there is risk.
Even though Kalil played all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers last season, neck and shoulder injuries limited him to a combined 14 games in 2016-17. It's also unknown if he's really, physically ready for NFL action since he announced his retirement nearly seven months ago.
But if he is healthy and ready, the 6-foot-2, 300-pounder is a huge upgrade over Harrison. Of course, Harrison is still on the roster and able to go in if anything goes wrong, but the Jets now have a professional-looking line that's less of a question mark than it once was.
And if they really can keep Darnold protected and open holes for Bell, the Jets' offense could be difficult to stop.
Gase must have known that when he arrived. It's why so many expected the Jets to make a run at one of the big free agent centers - either Mitch Morse or Matt Paradis. And Paradis seemed to be a likely target since he was with Denver when Gase was the offensive coordinator there. But the Jets never really made a strong run at him, and he eventually signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Panthers, ironically to replace the retired Kalil.
Now Gase has his upgrade at center, which should make running his offense a little bit easier than it was. Maybe Kalil will only be around one season. Maybe the Jets will have to find their center of the future next offseason. But the Jets obviously didn't make this move with the future in mind.
They brought in Kalil because they expect him to help them win right now.