Although the 2012 NFL league year and the free agency period is only a few days old, the New York Jets are playing things close to the vest, unwilling to use all of their cap space on a big splash marquee signing.
Instead, the Jets are being pragmatic, weighing all of their options and waiting patiently for the right player at the right price to come along.
They didn’t express much interest in tight end Martellus Bennett, a guy I would’ve loved to see in a Jets uniform, who instead took a one-year deal with the New York Giants on Wednesday afternoon.
They also don’t seem to be linked to free agent right tackle Eric Winston, who I believe is the best offensive tackle on the market and likely out of their price range because of that.
I don’t intend to try to predict the guys who actually will sign with the Jets. Instead, I’d like to offer up another name on my wish list who I’d like to see the Jets make an offer to: Carolina Panthers right tackle Geoff Schwartz.
Schwartz intrigues me for a few reasons. The former Panther seventh-round draft pick is pretty young and does not have a lot of experience, having only started 19 career games.
In fact, the 6’6, 330 lb Schwartz missed the entire 2011 season with a hip injury, and has not generated much of any interest this offseason despite some flashes of brilliance when he was on the field for the Panthers.
Schwartz started all 16 games on the Panthers offensive line in 2010, seeing time at both right tackle and right guard, and he impressed the folks at Pro Football Focus, who called him Carolina’s “Secret Superstar.”
That season, Geoff Schwartz started five games at right tackle, where he excelled in run blocking and graded above average in pass blocking as well.
He was moved to right guard because of his versatility, and in 11 games over there he ended up grading better in pass protection, while still also grading out positively as a run blocker.
In a total of 1016 snaps on the Panthers offensive line in 2010, Schwartz allowed just 13 pressures on the quarterback. He played two positions and played them both well, without missing a single snap along the way.
There is a degree of risk of course, as he did not play at all in 2011, but for a guy who only turns 26 in July, he has a ton of potential if he can prove he’s healthy and ready to go for the 2012 season.
If the Jets feel that guys like Winston are out of their price range, it couldn’t hurt to take a flier on Schwartz, who looked like he was becoming a fine player before getting injured.
I think he may be worth a look. It stands to reason that he could offer the Jets insurance at the guard spots while also competing for the starting right tackle job.
It can’t hurt having quality depth at the right price.
The only question is what price that is, exactly, and whether or not the Jets are willing to spend any more money on a tackle with Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse already under contract.
Remember the name, football fans. Geoff Schwartz may be the sleeper signing that gets totally ignored by everyone, except the team that’s fortunate enough to get him.