I’ve been compiling potential franchise tag candidates for a column this week. Jets nose tackle Sione Pouha is a player that hasn’t been written about much, but he should be.
New York has salary cap issues, so they may not be able to afford to use the tag on him. They still have to think hard about clearing room for Pouha if they can’t reach a long-term deal first.
Consider: The Dolphins paid nose tackle Paul Soliai over $12 million last year because nose tackles are so hard to find for a 3-4 defense. The tag this year is projected to be closer to $8 million.
Jets coach Rex Ryan has constantly talked that Pouha is the unsung player on the Jets defense. Pouha got some All Pro votes after a career year; you could argue he was the best pure run-stopping interior lineman in football last year.
While he’s only been in the league seven years, Pouha is 33 years old. That actually makes him a better candidate for a big one-year offer than a long-term deal. Len Pasquarelli of the Sports XChange reported that the Jets will “make a big push” to sign Pouha before free agency starts.
The Jets could keep Pouha’s cap number lower by signing him to a two or three-year deal. In an offseason with a lot of questions for New York, re-signing Pouha may be their top priority.