Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
Although the bombshell move for veteran center Ryan Kalil was announced yesterday, many Jets fans remain dissatisfied with the state of their offensive line. If anything, suggestions among some fans that the Jets should make another move have only intensified. Disgruntled Washington left tackle Trent Williams is the current object of their desire.
Reports indicate that the perennial Pro Bowler's relationship with medical staff is so fractured that he intends to continue holding out, even though he faces substantial fines. He obviously wants to be traded, with the Jets' divisional rival New England believed to be one potential suitor.
If the 31-year old becomes available, he would provide the Jets with a further upgrade to a unit that struggled badly last season but has since been bolstered by the additions of Kalil and guard Kelechi Osemele. On paper, it could give them one of the best starting groups in the league, while also blocking the Patriots from upgrading a potential problem area.
However, this move is not necessarily the no-brainer it might seem. There are several reasons why this might not be the panacea some fans believe.
Make no mistake, Williams has been one of the league's outstanding offensive linemen over the past several years. He's deservedly been voted to the last seven Pro Bowls and earned himself a five-year, $66 million contract back in 2015.
So why should the Jets have reservations?
Firstly, with several teams likely to be interested, the Jets could end up in a bidding war and might end up having to part with a day two pick. Joe Douglas might prefer to head into his first draft with a full complement of picks, although if it filled a hole it might be worth it.
In addition, although he no longer has any guaranteed money, the Jets would need to pay Williams $24 million over the next two seasons, then decide whether to extend him at age 33.
Can Williams be relied upon to play as well as he has in the past, though? It might be a risk worth taking, and - as with Osemele and Kalil - even if he's lost a step, that still might provide an upgrade.
However, what if he's breaking down altogether?
Reports indicate that Williams was unable to work out during the offseason because he had to undergo multiple surgical procedures. He missed 13 starts over the past three seasons and hasn't started all 16 games since 2013. Those same reports suggest that even if Williams wasn't holding out, he'd probably be on the PUP list right now, so he's unlikely to be close to game shape, making it difficult to develop chemistry in time for the regular season.
The Jets could justify taking this kind of chance if they felt it would make them a contender, but they are already pushing their luck, as their other two additions are both over 30 and the other returning starters have all had recent durability concerns.
If the Jets signed Williams, they would then have to decide how to accommodate him in the lineup. Either Kelvin Beachum would become expendable or Brandon Shell would have to drop to the bench, leading to Beachum moving to the right side.
For many fans, Shell is considered a part of the reason the Jets' offensive line struggled last year, but this may be unfair. In 2018, he had half as many penalties as Williams (six) and gave up less pressure in more pass block snaps.
Even if the Jets' current staff isn't high on Shell, asking Beachum to move to the right side is no cakewalk for an undersized player who is better in pass protection than as a run blocker. That might even downgrade the right side of the line in terms of the running game.
If there was an injury, that changes the calculus, though. When Beachum left practice with a foot/ankle injury on Friday, suddenly thoughts turned to Williams as being more of a necessity than a luxury. Thankfully, the injury is reportedly not serious as Adam Gase referred to Beachum as "day-to-day" after practice.
Ultimately, it's easy to see why making a move for a player of Williams' ability could be tempting. In 2008, the Jets added Alan Faneca and Damien Woody to form one of the league's most outstanding units. However, when both were gone a few years later, the Jets were left with holes they've been struggling to fill ever since.
With Sam Darnold emerging, the Jets' window of contention is just opening. Tempting though it may be to make a short-term splash, the team needs to consider the longer term and should be thinking about building around players like Shell rather than replacing him while he's about to reach his prime.