When NFL free agency gets underway in March, the New York Jets will see both of their starting offensive guards become unrestricted free agents. Reading the tea leaves, it’s unlikely that both will be Jets again in 2013.
Matt Slauson (above, second from right) and Brandon Moore (above, far left) are both set to hit the open market, and it’s more likely that only one of them comes back, if either of them come back at all.
As noted last week, the Jets’ offensive line was one of the best in football in 2012, even with the Jets breaking in a first-year starter at right tackle and employing a two-man rotation at left guard.
Slauson got the majority of snaps at left guard, but every third or fourth drive, he would give way to 2010 second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse (above, far right) who has not quite lived up to his draft status just yet.
While some would say that Ducasse only got token playing time in a desperate attempt to validate his selection, there was definitely a method to the madness of giving Ducasse live reps over the course of the year.
Ducasse was being groomed to take over one of the starting guard spots in 2013, and while many fans recall his disastrous start to his NFL career, it’s not crazy to think that Ducasse can be a serviceable starter next season.
The powerful, athletic 25-year-old is a bruising run blocker who performed quite well when he was on the field in 2012, and while his pass blocking needs improvement, there are few guards in the league with his physicality.
It’s very likely that the Jets will slot in Ducasse at the left guard spot, between perennial Pro Bowl left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. The question will be, who plays right guard?
I don’t have any concerns with signing either Moore or Slauson to play right guard, even if Slauson’s never played there in the NFL. Transitioning from left guard to right guard shouldn’t be all that difficult.
It’s going to come down to which one of them will be the better value. Moore is the better player, but he’ll be entering his 12th NFL season. Slauson has only played four seasons, three as a starter.
Which one of them will generate more interest on the free market? If I were John Idzik, I’d try to bring back Brandon Moore, even if he is a little past his prime. Either one of them would be a quality starter for most teams.
While there’s a chance both of them walk, the chances both return are probably slim to none. Deciding which one of them is the better gamble going forward is just another decision for the Jets’ off-season to-do list.