Jets general manager Joe Douglas spent much of the first day of the NFL’s free-agency negotiating period watching potential targets sign with other teams.
But Douglas finally struck a deal about nine hours after legal tampering opened.
The Jets reached an agreement Monday night with former Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman George Fant on a three-year, $30-million deal, a league source confirmed. The guaranteed portion was $13.7 million.
It certainly was not a sexy pickup or one that makes the Jets a playoff contender. But in his first offseason as an NFL general manager, Douglas has made revamping the offensive line and protecting Sam Darnold a priority, and he got a big lineman.
The 27-year-old Fant is 6-5, 322 pounds and a former basketball player at Western Kentucky. Fant joined the football team as a senior and played tight end. Signed as an undrafted free agent, Fant spent three seasons with the Seahawks, mostly at left tackle and some tight end, and started 24 games. Last season, Fant played 462 snaps and allowed two sacks.
It was the first of what will be many moves for Douglas and the Jets now that the NFL is open for business. The league year will begin, as scheduled, on Wednesday at 4 p.m. But things started slowly and somewhat unexpectedly for Douglas and the Jets.
They were very interested in Patriots guard Joe Thuney, who many expected to be the Jets' top offensive line target. But the Patriots surprised many by placing the franchise tag on Thuney just before Monday’s 11:59 a.m. deadline — a shrewd move since Thuney was expected to be in high demand. Bill Belichick basically forced the Jets – and any team, for that matter — to give up draft capital if they wanted Thuney.
The Jets also saw ex-Lions guard Graham Glasgow reach an agreement with the Broncos and former Titans tackle Jack Conklin go to the Browns. The Jets were pursuing Glasgow and had Conklin on their radar.
They could turn their attention to Panthers guard and Chaminade alum Greg Van Roten now. The Jets also are expected to address the line in the draft, perhaps with the No. 11 pick if any of the top tackles are still on the board.
Cornerback is another position of need for the Jets, and two players who were linked to them also agreed elsewhere. The Giants reached a deal with former Panther James Bradberry and the Dolphins with ex-Cowboy Byron Jones.
The Jets also reportedly showed interest in linebacker Kyle Van Noy, but the ex-Patriot is heading to the Dolphins.