Greg Van Roten, the first player the Jets called during free agency, officially signed his new contract Thursday.
The Rockville Centre product inked a three-year, $10.5 million contract to play guard for his favorite team growing up. Van Roten, 30, is a key piece of an offensive line that Jets general manager Joe Douglas has rebuilt.
“I can bring experience, perspective and just my ability as an offensive lineman and someone who’s been around the league for a while and has found a way to navigate it,” Van Roten said. “I think I’m a valuable resource for younger guys that are trying to figure out what to make of this whole NFL world.”
The Jets needed to strengthen the offensive line after they ranked 29th out of 32 teams in sacks allowed last year. They were also next-to-last in rushing yards. Douglas re-signed guard Alex Lewis and added four new linemen: Van Roten, tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and center/guard Josh Andrews, whose one-year deal became official on Thursday..
“I think it’s pretty rare for a team to sign so many offensive linemen in free agency,” Van Roten said. “For them to sign five at this point that’s pretty significant. You can tell they’re committed. Some people are saying these are great signings. Some people are like, ‘Who are these guys?’ If you pay attention to football, you have a good appreciation for the talent that he’s been able to get together.”
Van Roten, who went to Chaminade High School, has bounced around since joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Packers in 2012.
He spent two years with Green Bay, played two seasons in Canada for the Toronto Argonauts, and was with the Panthers the past three seasons. Van Roten started all 27 games he played for Carolina the last two years. He only appeared in 11 games last year before going on IR with a toe injury.
Former Colts cornerback Pierre Desir is officially a Jet, having signed his one-year deal. Desir is expected to be one of the Jets’ starting corners following the release of Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts.
A fourth-round pick of Cleveland in 2014, Desir spent the past three seasons with the Colts. He played in 37 games, including 29 starts. He had 161 tackles, 26 passes defensed, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Desir’s play dipped a little last year and the Colts waived him early during free agency. The Jets quickly pursued and landed Desir. Douglas said his assistant GM Rex Hogan, who was in Indianapolis’ front office the prior two years, played a big part in bringing in Desir.
The Jets are still in the market for a second starting corner. They re-signed Arthur Maulet and drafted Bless Austin last year. Both started six games, but the Jets may look for someone more proven. They also re-signed slot corner Brian Poole to a one-year deal.