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Jets Need to Center Their Attention on Important Position

Last year's starting center Connor McGovern is an unrestricted free agent and Gang Green has a decision to make
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With much of the fanfare focused on acquiring quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets also need someone to snap the football.

Unrestricted free agent center Connor McGovern has yet to sign with a team, but the veteran presumably has decent market value considering his reliability in recent seasons.

The seventh-year pro, who began his NFL career with the Denver Broncos, has made 48 of a possible 50 starts since signing with Gang Green in 2020. McGovern started all 17 games last fall.

One would think that the Jets are interested in a center that has missed only two games total in the last five seasons. Although he lacks Pro Bowl credentials, McGovern has been an adequate performer at an extremely important position.

McGovern, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, will turn 30 years old next month.

There’s one fewer option on the free agent market after Jake Brendel reportedly re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers. The veteran made every start for Kyle Shanahan’s team in 2022.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who suggested that the Jets showed interest in Brendel, reported the free agent deal to be worth $20 million over four years.

Meanwhile, Spotrac estimates McGovern’s average annual value on the current market at $12.5 million, which appears to be somewhat on the high side.

There's zero chance that Jets general manager Joe Douglas is ignoring the need for a center. The question is if Jets’ brass will choose to continue with a known commodity or look elsewhere.

“I’ve said before, O-line, D-line are going to be a high priority for us always and so if there’s an opportunity to upgrade tackle, center, guard, d-tackle, d-end, we’re always going to look at doing that,” stated Douglas during his press conference at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The Jets’ newly-announced signing of free agent lineman Wes Schweitzer could serve as an insurance policy at center. Schweitzer, an eighth-year pro, has played the position before, but most of his NFL experience has come as a guard.

Gang Green could opt for a more salary cap-friendly approach to addressing the center position and wait until this NFL Draft in late April. The Jets currently hold one selection in each of the first six rounds of the three-day draft.

There are a few appealing prospects in this year’s draft class, but relying on a first-year pro to start at center can be a risky proposition. Then, there’s the issue of whether or not a particular player will still be available when the Jets’ turn to pick.

Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz is a name that has been linked to the Jets in NFL Draft circles. The five-year college letterwinner, who was an Associated Press Division I FBS All-America First Team honoree in 2022, is the top-ranked center on draftnik Ric Serritella’s big board.

“Experience, good technique and intelligence are some of the most important qualities in a starting center and Schmitz has all of them.” - NFL Draft Bible

It has been rumored that Schmitz has an official top-30 pre-draft visit lined up with the Jets.

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