4 Free Agent Offensive Linemen the Jets Must Target to Protect Aaron Rodgers

Heading into the 2024 season the top priority for the Jets must be protecting Aaron Rodgers and their are still top options on the market for the Jets

Sep 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) sits on
Sep 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) sits on / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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Day One of the Legal Tampering window was wildly underwhelming as the Jets only signed John Simpson and Isaiah Oliver while re-signing kicker Greg Zuerlein. The Jets severely need to address their offensive line with only John Simpson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Joe Tippman penciled in as starters for the Jets. The team released guard Laken Tomlinson as a salary cap casualty while Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, and Conner McGovern hit free agency.

The biggest issue for the Jets is that a majority of the top offensive linemen went off the board on day one of the legal tampering period as Jon Runyan Jr, Mike Onwenu, Robert Hunt, and several other top linemen agreed to deals. The Jets will need to add at least two of the remaining free agents in order to keep Aaron Rodgers upright in 2024.

1. Tyron Smith - Offensive Tackle

Dec 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) runs off the
Dec 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) runs off the / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The long-time Dallas Cowboy has been one of the top tackles in all of football since entering the league in 2011. The issue with Smith hasn't been his play, but injuries playing just two games in 2020, 11 games in 2021, four games in 2022, and 13 games in 2023. Despite missing time, Tyron Smith was named a Second-Team All-Pro in 2023.

Signing Smith would give the New York Jets an immediate boost at left tackle over what they've gotten out of Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown. Smith will likely sign on a short-term deal fitting the Jets window with Aaron Rodgers still at the helm. As one of the best tackles in the history of the sport, signing a player of Smith's caliber would instantly bolster the Jets playoff hopes.

Tyron Smith is as plug-and-play as any tackle in free agency with nearly ten thousand career snaps in his career. The Jets would be better suited signing a Tyron Smith type player on a short term deal over reaching on an offensive tackle they are unsure about or signing an unproven tackle on the market.

2. La'el Collins - Tackle/Guard

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle La'el Collins (71) walks for the locker room before halftime in
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle La'el Collins (71) walks for the locker room before halftime in / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

If the Jets are to sign Tyron Smith, then a great player to sign to play alongside him at guard would be his former teammate La'el Collins. Collins spent six seasons in Dallas as a tackle before rejoining the team late in 2023 for a playoff run at guard. The long-time Dallas Cowboy will likely look for middle-of-the-road money making him a viable option for the Jets who only have $20 million in cap space.

The versatility of Collins should be attractive for the Jets just as much as his ability. Collins has spent time at both tackle positions as well as at left guard making him capable of playing any of the three roles the Jets need to fill.