While they may not get much notoriety compared to skill positions, it is hard to discredit the value of offensive lineman in football. The line is the first and only line of defense against the imposing pass-rushers looking to bring down the quarterback. They also open up the holes that allow running backs to break off big yardage that keep drives alive. New York Jets guard Willie Colon is in the midst of contract negotiations with John Idzik and hopes that he will be able to continue playing for Rex Ryan and his hometown team.
"Of course I want to be a Jet," Colon said, in an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "This is home for me. My family is happy I'm home. I'm happy I'm here."
Colon spent his first six years as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing with Gang Green last offseason. The Bronx native grew up in the New York area and attended college at Hofstra before making the jump to the professional level. Colon embraced his time as a Jet. He was a mainstay on the offensive line and his intensity and care for his teammates quickly made him a locker room favorite.
Colon had two primary responsibilities as a guard; protect and keep rookie quarterback Geno Smith on his feet and open lanes for Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory to run through. Colon was exceptional at pass blocking. He was credited with allowing just one sack in 16 games this season and finished with an overall grade of 11.1, a dominating figure amongst his colleagues. However, he did not perform well in run blocking and finished with a grade in the red at -6.5. Moreover, Colon is now 30 years old and with the Jets seeking to get younger, one wonders if Colon may not fall into their plans.
With a lack of depth and options at the position in free agency, the Jets would be well served to bring Colon back for a deal similar to this year. A one-year deal would keep a proven veteran on the line with a reputation for being a dominant pass-blocker. Gang Green could use the 2014 season as a bridge period for Colon and his eventual replacement. The NFL Draft is where linemen are sought and the Jets would be well-suited to find a long-term replacement for one of the NFL's most vital positions.