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New York Jets Working On Securing a Center

Gang Green has interest in veteran Ben Jones while 2022 starter Connor McGovern remains on the free agent market

The New York Jets have yet to obtain a starting center for the 2023 season.

While speaking to a media scrum at the National Football League Owners’ Meetings on Monday, Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas confirmed a reported interest in 11-year veteran free agent Ben Jones.

“There is interest in Ben, another outstanding veteran. [He was a] Pro Bowler last year. You talk about tough, smart, just a great leader, great person,” said Douglas.

The 34-year old Jones, who has played his entire NFL career in the AFC South, spent the last seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He earned his first-ever Pro Bowl nod in 2022.

Jones, who went to the Houston Texans with the No. 99 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has been a full-time starter since 2014. After playing out his rookie contract with the Texans, the former Georgia Bulldog signed with the Titans and proceeded to make 108 starts.

Whether it’s Jones, another free agent or a draft pick, securing a center is likely high on the Jets’ Offseason To Do List.

“It’s a position [center] we want to continue to address. The entire offensive line, we still want to address and make sure that we’re maximizing that group,” said head coach Robert Saleh on Monday in Arizona. “Again, those are things we’re studying, we’re still looking at all the free agent lists. We’re going through the Draft to look at what’s available.”

The Jets could opt for familiarity at center by re-signing free agent Connor McGovern. The former fifth-round draft pick (Denver Broncos) made 48 of a possible 50 starts after joining Gang Green in 2020.

McGovern, who started all 17 games last fall, may have initially carried too hefty of a price tag for the Jets, but the market appears to have evolved since February. Spotrac had estimated that McGovern, who will turn 30 years old this April, held a $12.5 million average annual value.

It’s not unusual to see veteran players re-sign after testing the free agent market and not attracting the level of demand that was expected. Although at a different position, the Buffalo Bills had a similar experience with All Pro safety Jordan Poyer this offseason.

The Jets’ recent signing of free agent Swiss Army knife Wes Schweitzer could serve as an insurance policy at center. Schweitzer has NFL experience at the position, but the eighth-year pro likely fits best for the Jets at guard.

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