The New York Jets want to upgrade their offensive line, and they got an early start Sunday by agreeing in principle to acquire left guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade with the Oakland Raiders, sources told ESPN’s Josina Anderson and Adam Schefter.
Osemele, who made the Pro Bowl for the Raiders in 2016 and 2017, is expected to replace James Carpenter, a four-year starter for the Jets and pending free agent.
By rule, trades aren’t official until Wednesday, the start of the new league year.
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The Jets traded a fifth-round pick for Osemele, receiving a sixth-round choice in return from the Raiders, according to a source.
The terms of the deal were first reported by Bay Area News Group.
It was the second trade in less than 24 hours for the Raiders, who late Saturday agreed to acquire wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan made an aggressive bid for Osemele in 2016, when the emerging lineman was an unrestricted free agent after four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He wound up signing a five-year, $58.5 million deal with the Raiders, who received a nice return on their investment in the first two years.
But Osemele’s play slipped last season as he battled knee and toe injuries, missing a total of five games. There were rumors that he’d be shipped out before the trading deadline, but he made it through the season on a poor offensive line. Quarterback Derek Carr was sacked 51 times.
Osemele has two years remaining on his contract, with cap charges of $10.2 million and $11.7 million. None of his remaining salary is guaranteed. The Jets have more than $90 million in cap space.
In recent days, there was speculation that Osemele, who turns 30 on June 24, would be cut. In February, he released video on Twitter that suggested he’s determined to have a bounce-back year. He tweeted that 2019 would be devoted to “health and wellness” and he showed himself tipping the scale at 296 pounds.
He was listed by the Raiders at 330 pounds.
Maccagnan, speaking at the scouting combine, said the offensive line is a “position we’re going to look at very strongly in free agency. … It’s definitely an area we want to improve upon.”
The Jets were expected to show interest in Los Angeles Rams left guard Rodger Saffold, who will be one of the most coveted interior linemen on the free-agent market, but he’ll be more costly than Osemele in terms of guaranteed money.
Osemele was a second-round pick of the Ravens in 2012. For his career, he has played 93 games, all starts.