Jets release Laken Tomlinson ahead of O-Line rebuild

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) celebrates with guard Laken Tomlinson (78) after scoring a touchdown.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) celebrates with guard Laken Tomlinson (78) after scoring a touchdown.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The first domino of the New York Jets’ offensive line overhaul appears to have fallen.

Gang Green has released veteran guard Laken Tomlinson, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, to open up some more cap space.

The durable 32-year-old, who has started 114 consecutive games, would have provided an $18.9 million cap hit on the Jets’ books in 2024. Releasing him saves New York $8.1 million, though $10.7 million is still on the ledger in the form of dead money. 

As it stands, the Jets have only two experienced members (at least 20 career starts) of the offensive line under contract — Alijah Vera-Tucker and Wes Schweitzer — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The protection unit was one of the worst in the NFL with only three teams allowing more than their 64 sacks yielded. 

Mekhi Becton, Connor McGovern, and Duane Brown are headed to free agency while Joe Tippman is projected to be the team’s starting center. He and Vera-Tucker, who missed most of last season with a torn Achilles, are the only starting-caliber players currently available for the line.

It’s the same line that left Aaron Rodgers out to dry in his extremely brief Jets debut in Week 1 as quick pressure from the Buffalo Bills led to the QB scrambling and ultimately tearing his ACL. Backups Zach Wilson and Trevor Siemian didn’t receive much more support, ultimately ending Wilson’s Jets career on a sour note as he couldn’t contend behind a porous line. 

According to Spotrac, the Jets have an estimated $28.6 million in cap space heading toward the start of the new league year next month where free agents can officially begin signing with new teams. 

The offensive line will obviously be addressed during that time but the 2024 NFL Draft could also provide a golden opportunity to draft a foundational piece of that unit. Gang Green possesses the No. 10 pick where the likes of Penn State tackle Olumuyiawa Fashanu and Oregon State tackle Taliese Fuaga are expected to be available. 

For more on the Jets, visit AMNY.com