Center isn’t as big a need as pass rusher or wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars but it’s a position they could and should address in the 2022 NFL Draft. They could take one in the second or third round but if they don’t manage to get one, they could then consider giving veteran JC Tretter a call.
Kristopher Knox recently discussed the top free-agent options for teams who miss out on major needs in the 2022 draft. He suggests that those clubs that aren’t able to land one of the top prospects sign Tretter. Knox notes that Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum is “expected to be pushed down the draft” and says that he may be available in the second round. On the other hand, he says that Tretter could be Plan B if the Jags (or another club) aren’t able to draft the former Hawkeye.
"While Tretter has never been a Pro Bowler, he’s consistent and amazingly durable. Over the past five seasons with the Cleveland Browns, he missed only one game on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He also played 100 percent of the snaps when active with the Browns. At 31 years old, Tretter can still be a long-term option for contenders and rebuilding teams alike. Signing him before the draft would actually make sense for a lot of franchises. While a team might be able to snag Linderbaum early on Day 2, it could instead land Tretter and address other needs in the draft."
A fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 draft, Tretter really took off when he joined the Cleveland Browns in 2017. Over the last five years, he played all but one game and has posted Pro Football Focus grades of 72.0 or higher in the last four seasons.
Signing JC Tretter would give Jaguars freedom in the draft.
The Jaguars brought back Tyler Shatley on a two-year deal and expect him to start at guard in 2022. But if they want to sign JC Tretter, they could do it before or after the draft. If they do it before, it allows them to address other positions such as wide receiver and linebacker. If they do it afterwards, it would probably be because they couldn’t land the prospect(s) they wanted.
Just keep in mind that Tretter is 31 and while he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, the Jags could be better off agreeing to a two or three-year deal. And if that’s the course of action they end up taking, center could again become a need in a couple of years. Then again, general manager Trent Baalke (if he’s still in Jacksonville) could target a center in the 2023 draft, so signing Tretter won’t exclude the team from making future additions to the position.
Now, the Jaguars have around $ 6 million in cap space and still need to sign their rookie class, which will take them around $ 10 million. But the team can restructure a few contracts or craft Tretter’s in a way that can fit the current budget. Either way, the cap shouldn’t be an issue if the decision-makers want to sign the veteran center.