As he becomes a free agent for the second time in his career, Ryan Jensen is very much in the spotlight this time around. Snapping the ball to and protecting Tom Brady has put a focus on the performances that Jensen has provided throughout his career. Let’s take a look at the potential market value for Jensen, who ranks 11th in PFN’s top free agents for 2022, and take a look at some predictions and potential landing spots this offseason.
Predictions for free agent Ryan Jensen
After a slow start to his career, Jensen has become a valuable contributor since his fourth season in 2017. He started all 16 games with the Ravens before moving to Tampa Bay, where he has not missed a single regular-season game.
Coming off a four-year, $42 million contract, Jensen should carry a similar value this offseason. He is highly regarded, and his experience of playing with Brady for the last two years will have also enhanced his stock. Jensen’s current projected market value is a three-year deal worth $30.3 million. However, with a handful of teams potentially in the market for a veteran center, he could end up commanding a higher AAV.
Jensen’s best landing spots
As the clear top center on the market, Jensen should have no shortage of offers. That will give him the luxury of selecting the fit he feels is best. Among the teams potentially in the market, there is a good combination of teams with young QBs and teams gearing up for a Super Bowl run looking for a steady influence at center.
If you were to pinpoint the top option on this list, the Bengals would likely be it. They have the potential opportunity to tick a number of the boxes that Jensen might be looking for. The Bengals are fully expected to be back in the Super Bowl picture next year. Nonetheless, they also have the cap space to compete with some of the offers that Jensen could get elsewhere.
The Bengals’ offensive line was a matter of much discussion last year. Joe Burrow was consistently under pressure, and they need an overhaul of the group. That also goes for the center position — locking up a player like Jensen, who could then work with Burrow for the next three to four years, is extremely valuable.
Another offensive line that was much discussed last year was the Miami Dolphins. Greg Mancz is set to be a free agent this offseason, and Michael Deiter was less than convincing. Entering Tua Tagovailoa’s third season in the NFL, the Dolphins need to give him a solid line and a settled situation.
Putting Jensen in the middle of that line would give stability up the middle. Addressing the tackle position has drawn the headlines for the Dolphins, but the team cannot overlook the interior of the line. Putting an experienced veteran in front of Tua to help him read defenses and make protection calls is something the Dolphins must have on their to-do list this year.
New York Jets
The Jets have a few tough decisions on their offensive line this season. Connor McGovern had a solid year but hurt his knee late in the season. He is set to be a free agent next year, so the Jets have to make a call.
At this point, you want to get a settled partnership between Zach Wilson and his center for the next three to five years. If McGovern was that guy, the Jets need to commit. The problem is the knee injury makes that decision tougher. If the Jets are on the fence about McGovern, signing an established veteran center like Jensen is a must.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are very much in flux right now. With Tom Brady’s retirement, they have no idea who will be playing QB right now. Additionally, the retirement of Ali Marpet has completely reshaped the inside of that offensive line. Both Jensen and Alex Cappa were already due to be free agents. Now, the Buccaneers could be looking at a future without all three of them.
That will make their transition to a new QB much more difficult. If that new QB were coming in behind a settled offensive line full of veteran experience, it would help. Instead, he is now facing the absence of three talented players on the interior. Of the Buccaneers’ free agents, Jensen feels like a player they have to prioritize unless they are going down the route of a rebuild.
The Commanders made a splash heading into free agency when they traded for Carson Wentz. Their offensive line is sure to draw some focus this offseason, especially if Brandon Scherff departs in free agency. Chase Roullier has done a solid job through the last two seasons but suffered a fracture to his fibula last season. An injury like that is tough for an offensive lineman given the stress that goes through their legs on every play.
Therefore, the Commanders may have to be thinking of a long-term plan at center. Jensen would certainly offer them that. In a best-case scenario, Roullier returns in 2022 and could be a serviceable option at guard alongside Jensen at center. With question marks at guard, where players tend to command a higher value in free agency, shifting Roullier and adding Jensen to play center should be given serious consideration.