Veteran offensive lineman Nick Mangold is on the open market, but that is not expected to be the case for long, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
Nick Mangold believes he has some good football left. Intends to keep playing and indications are he'll have interest from contending teams.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 25, 2017
The New York Jets continued purging their roster of expensive veterans on Saturday, waiving Mangold and declining their option on linebacker Erin Henderson. Mangold, the longest tenured Jets’ player, was released after spending 11 seasons with the team. The 33-year-old is a two-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection.
“For the past 11 years, Nick Mangold has been a cornerstone of our team both on and off the field,” said Jets owner Woody Johnson. “As our Pro Bowl center, Nick consistently demonstrated superior skill and unmatched toughness. Equally important, off the field, Nick exhibited respect, sensitivity, and compassion for the causes he supported. It has been a privilege to have known Nick these many years and, for all of us, I say Nick will always be a Jet.”
Mangold missed eight of the last nine games of the season with an ankle injury. The New York Times reports that the Jets will save $9.1 million against the salary cap by releasing Mangold. Restricted free agent Wesley Johnson is expected to take over at center full-time.
Johnson is a guard by trade, although he started the eight games Mangold was unable to last year. Overall, he has appeared in 26 games the past two seasons, which includes nine starts.
Mangold will likely be a relatively hot commodity as a free agent. He is still a quality center and is a great locker room presence. Mangold has not given up a sack in 33 games as Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahne tweeted. Jahne called Mangold the best center in the past decade.
Nick Mangold hasn't given up a sack in his last 33 games. The best center of the past decade. https://t.co/yJ8wu988ff
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) February 25, 2017
In 2016, Mangold graded out as the 25th best center by Pro Football Focus.
Dallas Robinson of Pro Football Rumors speculates that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals will be among the teams interested in Mangold. All six of those teams are expected to look to upgrade its offensive line this offseason. Robinson added that the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams also need offensive line help, but they are not expected to contend for a playoff spot next year.
A few hours after the Jets decided to let Mangold go, Darryl Slater of New Jersey Advance Media reported that the Jets cut ties with Henderson. The Jets will save another $2.75 million in salary by not picking up the 30-year-old linebacker’s team option, meaning that the team has cleared $29 million off the books this offseason. New York has said also goodbye to Ryan Clady Breno Giacomini and Nick Folk.
Henderson signed a two-year pact with the Jets prior to last season, but it contained no guaranteed money for this upcoming campaign. Henderson, who was a backup for the Jets in 2015, started four of the five games he appeared in 2016 before landing on the non-football injury list. He finished with 21 tackles last season with 12 being of the solo variety.
While the Jets appear to be building for the future, Rich Cimini of ESPN believes that 33-year-old linebacker David Harris will return to the squad next season.
Harris is coming off a strong season, registering 94 tackles, two forced fumbles and a half-sack in 15 starts. He ranked as the 35th best linebacker by Pro Football Focus. Harris, who was selected in the second round of the 2007 draft, has spent his entire 10-year career with the Jets. It is still conceivable that the Jets decide to release Harris as none of his $6.5 million base salary is guaranteed next year.
In other news, linebacker Kevin Minter is said to have interest in joining the Jets. Minter, who will hit the open market on March 9, was ranked as the 25th best linebacker by Pro Football Focus in 2016. The 26-year-old inside backer finished third on the team with 81 tackles. He also had 3.5 sacks and six tackles for losses. It is highly likely that Minter returns to the Cardinals.
[Primary Image by Julio Cortez/AP Images]