Protecting Sam Darnold is a priority for the Jets, and their first big move this offseason should help.
The Jets reached an agreement in principle to acquire former two-time Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders, a league source confirmed Sunday. The Jets will send a fifth-round draft pick (141) to the Raiders for Osemele and the sixth-round pick (198) that Oakland acquired from Chicago in the Khalil Mack trade.
The deal will not be official until the new league year begins Wednesday. It is a significant move for a team that needs help on the offensive line.
The Jets had to replace free agent James Carpenter, and they upgraded the position. They were expected to make a run at Rams free-agent guard Rodger Saffold, but because they’re set to land the 6-5, 333-pound Osemele — whom they pursued when he was a free agent in 2016 — they can look to shore up other spots when the free-agent negotiation period starts Monday.
Their top areas of need are edge rusher, running back, wide receiver and the defensive backfield.
The move for Osemele, who will be 30 when the season starts, will eat into a decent chunk of the cap space the Jets had for free agency. But the former second-round pick of the Ravens in 2012 could be a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Jets. Osemele will make $10.2 million in 2019 and is owed $11.7 million next year. If it doesn’t work out, the Jets can cut him and it won’t count on their cap.
The Jets also are re-signing free agent Jonotthan Harrison, who played guard and center last season. Harrison performed well after replacing Spencer Long at center for the final seven games. Long, a free-agent signing last year, was cut by the Jets last month.
The Jets should be left with more than $80 million to spend in free agency, the second most in the league behind Indianapolis, according to overthecap.com.
They are expected to pursue running back Le’Veon Bell, but if his asking price is too high, they could make a bigger push for Tevin Coleman of the Falcons. Others on the Jets’ radar: defensive end Trey Flowers (Patriots) and outside linebacker Anthony Barr (Vikings).
They also need a No. 1 wide receiver and might look to trade for one. They were never really in the mix for Antonio Brown, whom the Steelers traded to the Raiders.
The Jets also will try to sign some of their own 27 free agents, particularly defensive end Henry Anderson, cornerback Morris Claiborne, returner Andre Roberts and kicker Jason Myers.