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As NFL Draft nears, Jets make some roster moves

Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant warms up before

Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant warms up before an NFL game against the Browns on Oct. 13, 2019, in Cleveland. Credit: AP/David Richard

The Jets made some roster moves official hours before Thursday’s NFL Draft, where they hope to add a franchise-changing player.

Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, left tackle George Fant and backup quarterback David Fales all signed their contracts. Jenkins and Fales inked one-year deals, while Fant signed a three-year, $27.3 million contract with $13.3 million guaranteed.

The Jets also signed four exclusive rights free agents: linebackers Frankie Luvu and B.J. Bello, kicker Sam Ficken and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi.

Fant was the first player the Jets reached an agreement with in free agency, and he will be a big piece of their revamped line. The former Seahawk is projected to start at left tackle. General manager Joe Douglas signed five offensive linemen in free agency, and could add another tonight with the No. 11 pick in the draft.

The Jets need a play-making wide receiver, but protecting Sam Darnold is a priority. If any of the top four tackles are still on the board when the Jets pick, there’s a good chance Douglas will grab him.

Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr., Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs or Georgia’s Andrew Thomas could be the next tackle to join the Jets’ rebuilt line. If the Jets take a tackle in the first round, they’ll likely address wide receiver in the second round.

The Jets also need an edge rusher, but if they address it in the draft it’s expected to be in the later rounds. That’s why it was important for the Jets to bring back Jenkins, a third-round pick in 2016. Jenkins tested the market but decided to return to the Jets, and will make $5 million in 2020. He was the Jets’ top pass rusher last year, leading the team with eight sacks.

Fales also returns to the Jets as Darnold’s backup. Fales only played eight snaps in two appearances and didn’t attempt a pass. It’s expected that the Jets will bring in a more experienced veteran quarterback.

The Jets also announced on Thursday that the Johnson Family will donate an additional $2 million to support COVID-19 relief in New York and New Jersey.  Funding will go primarily to food insecurity, first responders and regional relief.

Last month, the Johnson family made a joint $1 million donation with the Jets to multiple local United Way agencies to help combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

"On behalf of my family and the Jets, we would like to extend our support to these organizations who battle daily against an unprecedented challenge," Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. "No region in the country has been affected by COVID-19 more than ours and because of that, our resolve has only grown.

"These organizations continue to nourish the vulnerable and target the needs of those on our front lines. At no time has being a good teammate ever mattered more."

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