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Did the Jets make a mistake by letting Matt Slauson go in free agency last year, not expecting the development that he ended up making this season with Chicago?  

Michael Fensom brought the question for the Star-Ledger in the wake of the big news about the re-signing of Jay Cutler (and Slauson) by the Bears:

What we do know is that the Jets hired an offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, during the 2012 offseason who has a tendency to call more passes than runs. In that respect, Slauson — who signed a deal initially with Chicago worth slightly more than the veteran's minimum — was automatically of more value to the Jets due to his specialty in that area.

Secondly, the Jets knew that the guard positions would be tenuous this season. They entered camp with four players competing for two open positions (2012's right guard, Brandon Moore, was also not retained last offseason and eventually retired).

Historically, Slauson played the pass better than the run when with the Jets. In Chicago this season, Marc Trestman installed an aggressive offense with lots of spread elements to take advantage of Matt Forte and Jay Cutler.

Slauson's pass protection skills certainly flourished in Chicago, but part of his success was moving away from the plodding run-heavy attacks that the Jets used. Conversely, under Trestman, Cutler went from a player who was sacked 2.98 times a game during his first four years in Chicago (2009-2012), to one who was sacked just 1.72 times in 2013. That's a massive improvement that comes from getting the ball out of the quarterback's hand much more quickly.

Slauson benefited from being in the Trestman system, so it is hard to disassociate his success from the overall improvement that took place in Chicago. We don't doubt that Slauson deserves whatever contract he just got from the Bears ... in fact we're very happy for him.

Maybe had the Jets retained Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets would have kept the lines of communication open better and the team would have been more invested in re-signing Slauson and pushed Ducasse or whomever came along in the draft/free agency into the former Brandon Moore spot.

Once John Idzik arrived, priorities changed. The Jets were serious about saving as much cap money as possible, even if they really wanted to re-sign Slauson, they might have been able to offer him enough to make him stay. It was clear that was not part of Idzik's plan.

By piecing together the timeline of the Stephen Peterman signing the Jets made in the offseason, we can determine that the Jets were serious about drafting future interior pieces on the line. The timing of the announcement of Peterman's signing was odd. It came from draft insider Tony Pauline during the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, right after the Jets drafted Geno Smith. Then the Jets went OL, OL, OL with their next three picks. Those aren't coincidences. The Jets were serious about drafting interior players and once they didn't have a sure-fire player who could start, they hedged their bet with Peterman.

Spinning things forward, Brian Winters had a very rough 2013, but he started to come around at the end of the year. Winters was put in a tough spot, starting was a tall task for the rookie while he was also transitioning to an interior spot from playing tackle in college. Teams keying on him for the better part of eight games and it wasn't until near the end of the year that the Jets scheme started to protect Winters a little better. We fully expect Brian Winters to be better in 2014.

As far as a notion that Slauson might have returned after his one-year deal with the Bears? That ship has sailed, now more than ever with the news of his deal. The Jets drafted three interior offensive linemen in 2013 ... I doubt those guys will sit on the bench forever.

Tags: NYJets , Brian Bassett
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