The NFL’s free agency “courtship” period began Monday. The New York Jets must have forgotten to check the calendar because they only made one signing and it was late in the day.
Paging New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas. Paging New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas. NFL free agency has begun and we almost can’t find you. Hello! Joe, can you hear us. Your team needs help!
That’s right NFL free agency had its quasi start on Monday and the Jets missed out. The only thing Gang Green did was overpay for a part-time left tackle. They signed George Fant away from Seattle for three-years, $30M, with $13.7M guaranteed. For Fant it’s a great deal, the Jets maybe not so much.
For a team with big holes to fill all over their roster, the New York Jets have been slow to fill them in free agency. Meanwhile, quality players continue to sign with other teams. What could the Jets have done with impact players such as tackle Jack Conklin, or cornerbacks James Bradberry and Kendall Fuller?
If some were to have asked Fant six years ago if he would cash in as an NFL free agent, he probably would have given a polite chuckle. That’s because Fant had just finished his four years of college basketball eligibility at Western Kentucky and decided to stick around another year in Bowling Green, KY with the Hilltoppers football team. After his lone season as a college football player, Seattle signed Fant as an undrafted player.
Is he any good?
Well, the jury is still out on that one. Fant is both athletic and durable. Since missing all of 2017 with an ACL injury, he has played in all 32 games, starting 14 of them. Head Coach Pete Carroll has even taken advantage of Fant’s outstanding athleticism and used the 6-5 tackle as a third tight end.
Fant has been learning the tackle position on the fly. That’s the reason why he hasn’t played in more than 63 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in any single season. According to his 2019 Pro Football Focus grade, his 62.2 score ranks Fant in the low end of the backup range.
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I covered the Seahawks in 2018. Seattle wasn’t completely sold on Fant then as he recovered from his knee injury. Apparently they weren’t sold in 2019 either. To me, his PFF grade is slightly low, but on a good team, George Fant is not a starting left tackle.
Why Fant received such a big contract from the New York Jets is a mystery. The former Seahawk doesn’t seem to be an upgrade over Kelvin Beachum.
In Seattle, he could get away with a mistake or two, because quarterback Russell Wilson is such an incredible athlete who can make plays with his feet. Jets QB Sam Darnold is more of a pocket passer, now Fant’s room for error on the blindside is much smaller than it was with Wilson behind him.
Is Douglas in a fog or got so busy playing catch-up that he thought this was a necessary signing?