After the Super Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, all of the attention will be focused towards free agency before the ride to the draft. The Baltimore Ravens have decisions to make on some of their upcoming free agents and players they are looking to restructure or release.
One of those players that will be hitting the market is starting center Ryan Jensen. Ever since Matt Birk retired after the 2012 season, Baltimore has yet to find a true replacement for the former Raven and Minnesota Viking. The Ravens tried Gino Gradkowski in 2013, and he was one of the worst offensive linemen in the league that season. General Manager Ozzie Newsome traded for veteran Jeremy Zuttah the very next year and the move paid off in 2014, before Zuttah struggled the following two seasons. John Urschel came in relief at times when Zuttah was out with an injury and was the favorite for the job entering training camp this past season, but he retired on the first day of camp.
Jensen would win the job and even beat out the returning Zuttah during training camp and the preseason. Jensen turned in a solid 2017 and was a very physical player on the line. What made his season even more impressive, is that he did it while losing starting guards Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda. Jensen now enters this offseason with the Ravens looking to get their offensive line intact with their two guards returning, but Jensen is looking to get paid. One of the teams that looks to be interested in his services will be the New York Jets, according to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini who was answering questions from Jets fans:
Not a Wes Johnson fan? There will be two solid centers on the FA market -- Ryan Jensen and Weston Richburg. I expect the Jets to be in pursuit. https://t.co/tvii0epabj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 3, 2018
The Jets are also looking to replace a longtime veteran in Nick Mangold, who was released after the 2016 season and was never signed this past year despite interest from Baltimore. New York's starting center from last season, Wesley Johnson, is a free agent as well, but he was disappointing and the Jets will look to upgrade the position coming into a critical 2018 for their current regime.
New York has a ton of cap space, with possibly $100 million available. The Jets will of course be on the lookout for a quarterback. Kirk Cousins is at the top of their list and they have the 6th pick in the draft with players such as Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Sam Darnold potentially being available at that spot. Whoever their quarterback will be, they will need to form up a solid offensive line to protect him.
With the Jets having the cap space and in need of a center, they are sure to be contenders for Jensen. This situation with Jensen could be similar to Ricky Wagner last year and other free agents. Baltimore will give Jensen an offer they feel matches his services, but if a team is willing to offer him the money he wants, Baltimore will surely be in the market for a center again.