Instead of heading into his final season (per contract) with the New York Jets, Nick Mangold is one of the most coveted free agents on the market all of a sudden, with the likes of the Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals waiting to approach him.
Prior to 2016, Mangold missed only 4 games in 10 seasons with the Jets, that included making the Pro Bowl 7 times and being named to All-Pro teams four times. However, two ankle injuries made him miss half of the 2016 season, and the Jets, who put themselves in a tough position salary-cap wise due to their investment in a very unbalanced defensive line, couldn’t’ afford to keep Mangold, who has been with the team since entering the NFL in 2006 as a 1st round draft pick for the Jets.
It doesn’t seem like a reunion is likely. From the rumors floating around, the Jets didn’t seek to restructure his deal and ask Mangold for a pay cut. They simply released him, immediately turning him into a surprising prize on the free agency market. He’s no longer one of the best centers in the league, but he’s still starting calibre when he’s healthy, which would be the main concern for the next team that tries to sign him, which could be in the next couple of days, as he’s not under restriction of the deadline being lifted; the Jets released him.
The Vikings might be the main contenders to sign him considering all of their offensive line problems last season, derailing a strong start as they missed the playoffs. The Redskins, Lions and Bengals had their share of offensive line problems too. It won’t be too surprising to hear of the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and maybe a few other teams trying to sign Mangold, but the more likely scenario is that the 33-year old will try and find a place on a team looking to contend or at least make the playoffs, instead of somewhere that has no shot of coming close to that right now.
Mangold has appeared in 164 regular season games for the Jets, and 7 postseason games in their runs of 2006, 2009 and 2010. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015, but hasn’t been named to an AP All-Pro team since 2011.