As the Jacksonville Jaguars work on re-tooling the offensive line, recently released New York Jets center Nick Mangold makes a lot of sense.
It isn’t every day that a team like the New York Jets decides to move on from its longtime starting center. Stability at that position is often overlooked, but it’s a cornerstone role for more teams. For the Jets, Nick Mangold provided 11 seasons of stability.
Now, released by the Jets and entering the twilight of his career, he can provide some stability for another team. That team may as well be the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mangold’s only season spent missing more than two games was in 2016, when he played in eight. That is not heartening or sweetening any deals for the center as he approaches free agency. It is, however, the one outlier in a long career of consistency which may get a team like the Jaguars interested enough to pull the trigger.
Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin has made it known he will be searching for players to upgrade the offensive line and has already been influential in moving on from left tackle Kelvin Beachum and trading for Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Branden Albert. That move either provides stability at left tackle or, as Albert has been used in his past, at guard.
Bringing in a center like Mangold would enable the Jags to move Brandon Linder back to guard, his more natural position, making the Jags’ interior offensive line much stronger. Whether Albert stays at left tackle or moves to guard would depend entirely on who the Jags target in free agency or the 2017 NFL Draft. If they manage to bring in a stud tackle, Albert can move to the interior. If they find a suitable guard, Albert can stay outside.
How Mangold fits into all of this is by giving the Jags more flexibility. There’s no guarantee that Linder will be at center for his entire career or even if that is the best spot for him. Allowing the Jags to play with the right configuration is only possible with someone locking down at least one spot. Mangold would lock down center.