The New York Jets want to lock up a key in-house free agent before he hits the open market.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that the Jets have started negotiations with right tackle Austin Howard, according to a team source. The team hopes to sign Howard to a multi-year deal before free agency kicks off on March 11.
Howard, 27, brought stability to right tackle for the Jets last season. He can be a liability as a run blocker, but he allowed just two sacks in 16 starts, according to Pro Football Focus. He's an average talent at the position, but he counts as a significant upgrade over what the team had before his arrival in 2012.
At the right price, he's a player well worth keeping around.
Around The League, in our Offseason Forecast series, listed Howard as the Jets' No. 1 free agent. Austin's partner on the right side of the Jets' line, guard Willie Colon, is also a pending free agent.