Grading Joe Douglas: The New York Jets got a starting center at a solid value point

Kristian Dyer

The offensive line was the top priority for the New York Jets this offseason, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that general manager Joe Douglas made upgrading the center position a centerpiece of his rebuilding efforts.

In Connor McGovern, the Jets get a steady and reliable center, something they haven’t had since Nick Mangold retired following the 2016 season.

He instantly helps the offensive line individually but collectively as a smart, adept interior lineman.

The lowdown: Since the tail end of the 2017 season, McGovern has been a starter for the Denver Broncos. He began his NFL career at guard before becoming Denver’s starting center last year.

His first year in the middle of the line was pretty, pretty good. He allowed just a single sack a year ago and is known for being a calm, steady player who doesn’t rack up penalties.

If there is a criticism on McGovern, it is that his arms are a little short, sometimes making him susceptible to the bull rush and players with a dominant wingspan.

At 27-years old and with a little over two years as a starter, he is entering the prime of his career.

What McGovern brings: There is some good position versatility here as McGovern could play either guard position for the Jets or center, an added bonus given the team’s injury issues along the line a year ago.

He’s solid, steady and physical. McGovern is a good technique guard who isn’t overly reliant on his athleticism. He pulls well and brings solid leadership capabilities to the locker room.

Where he fits: Given the Jets relative strength at guard, including incumbent starters Alex Lewis (who was re-signed at the start of free agency) as well as the steady Brian Winters, McGovern should be the starting center come Week 1.

Long-term outlook: He is likely with the Jets for the next two years. In free agency, he signed a three-year, $27 million contract with $18 million in guaranteed money. He is a heavy cap hit until 2022.

But given his age, his performance and the low mileage on his four-year career so far (he didn’t play as a rookie and made just five starts his second season), McGovern was a shrewd investment by Douglas.

Grading the move: This was a very good signing by Douglas, one of the first free agents that the Jets picked up on the open market this year. They went after him and got him while the rest of the NFL was chasing bigger names on the line.

He is a healthy contract in terms of a cap hit but also a good value. He’s a solid player who is an upgrade at either guard or center for the Jets from what they had available a year ago.

There is an awful lot to like about this move. McGovern got a nice contract and a big raise (good for him) and the Jets got a solid starting center at Tier II free agent money…one who is a low-hit in terms of dead money come 2022.

All in all, this is peak Douglas right here.

Grade: B+