Stay or Go: Should Jets bring Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back for 2022 NFL season?

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif treated image
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif treated image

The Jets’ offensive line displayed improved play in 2021, but Joe Douglas wasn’t prepared to give up on continuing to improve the unit.

Right before the trade deadline, he dealt backup tight end Daniel Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs for their former starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who ended up starting seven of the last eight games.

Duvernay-Tardif replaced Greg Van Roten, who had been the subject of some fan criticism over the past two seasons, at the right guard position. The Jets may have been hoping that their offensive line would become a strength in the second half of the year. However, it’s debatable as to whether there was any tangible improvement.

So, should Duvernay-Tardif stay or go?

Case to stay

Duvernay-Tardif immediately settled into his role with the starters and showed his smarts and instincts in terms of how quickly he was able to pick up the system. This seemed to have the biggest impact in the running game, where the Jets rushed for over 100 yards as a team in four of his seven starts. They only managed this twice in the other 10 games.

The veteran is obviously regarded as a solid starter, having signed a deal for over $8 million per season back in 2017, but probably wouldn’t cost as much on a new deal.

While his overall impact perhaps wasn’t quite what the Jets hoped it would be in 2021, they might reasonably expect a more consistent performance from him in 2022 if he’s able to practice with the team throughout the offseason and develop better chemistry with his linemates.

Also, the Jets had a lot of other injuries down the stretch that had a dramatic effect, so even though the offensive line didn’t elevate the offense, it might be unfair to single them out as having underperformed.

Case to go

The main question surrounding Duvernay-Tardif’s time with the Jets is how much he actually helped them. The Jets lost six out of seven games with Duvernay-Tardif in the starting line-up last year, beating only the lowly Texans.

In addition, although the running game showed some statistical improvement down the stretch, their best game of all saw them rush for 273 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. And Duvernay-Tardif missed that game because he was on COVID-19 reserve. This suggests perhaps there were other reasons behind that late season improvement.

In pass protection, the Jets were arguably worse with Duvernay-Tardif in the lineup, as they gave up 26 sacks in his seven starts (3.7 per game) but only 27 in the 10 games he didn’t start (2.7 per game). This could perhaps be due to the lack of chemistry he had with his linemates and some late-season injuries, though. Unofficially, he only got beat for one sack himself.

Although some fans and reporters singled out Van Roten for criticism after a rocky start to the season, he had actually settled down nicely in the middle part of the season, so the change may have been unnecessary. Advanced metrics from analysis sites such as Pro Football Focus suggest that Van Roten performed better than Duvernay-Tardif in 2021, and he remains under contract -- so the Jets may just opt to revert to him.

Verdict

At the end of the 2020 season, the Jets made a similar move to get Pat Elflein, who started several games at left guard for them down the stretch.

That was another move made with the hope that the player would establish himself as a reliable starter going forward. However, Elflein played poorly and ended up signing a three-year, mid-level deal to start for the Carolina Panthers. Duvernay-Tardif can perhaps expect something similar.

The Jets didn’t give up anything to get Duvernay-Tardif. Brown ended up being released by the Chiefs and was soon back with the Jets. However, to retain him, they’d need to make a significant financial commitment which may prove unnecessary with Van Roten already under contract at a reasonable figure.

Expect the Jets to let Duvernay-Tardif walk unless he’s prepared to sign a very team-friendly deal. Instead of filling the right guard position with stopgaps, the Jets should instead seek upgrades here.