In 2017, the Detroit Lions traded former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson for a fifth-rounder only two years into his rookie contract. The veteran left guard spent five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, Tomlinson has found a new home with the New York Jets on a three-year contract in free agency.
Laken Tomlinson signs with the New York Jets
Tomlinson agreed to a three-year, $40 million deal ($27 million guaranteed) with the Jets on Monday, according to Mike Garafolo. Tomlinson has played consistently good football for most of his career in a league where quality offensive line play is hard to come by.
With Tomlinson heading to town to take over the right guard spot for the Jets, they no longer have to rely on Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to protect Zach Wilson. Tomlinson, 30, is heading into his eighth NFL season. He brings experience and consistency to a Jets line that was looking to improve after 2021.
Who is Laken Tomlinson?
Tomlinson entered the league as the 28th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He posted a 4.51 Relative Athletic Score coming out of Duke, recording poor athletic testing numbers almost across the board.
When Bob Quinn replaced Martin Mayhew as Detroit’s GM in 2017, he made the offensive line more athletic. Graham Glasgow had already supplanted Tomlinson in the starting lineup. There was no longer any need for his services.
After initially choosing to forgo Tomlinson’s fifth-year option, San Francisco signed him to a three-year, $18 million extension, retaining him through 2021. Now, he’s locked in as the second-ranked offensive guard in the free agency class.
Who is left in the guard market?
For a league devoid of quality offensive linemen, quite a few hit free agency in 2022. Tomlinson was the 18th-ranked free agent after the franchise tag deadline.
But there is a great mix of youthful and veteran options to choose from in free agency. However, it’s important to distinguish between left guard and right guard. They are not simply interchangeable.
With that said, the left guard market is almost exclusively in the 30+ club. Quinton Spain, Rodger Saffold, and Andrew Norwell are all veteran options at the position. But a sneaky name is Bradley Bozeman. He played center last season for Baltimore but previously spent time at left guard.