Report: Jets want to sign Austin Howard before free agency

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The Jets have designs on signing one of their starting offensive linemen to a new deal before free agency begins.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have begun contract talks with right tackle Austin Howard, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in March.

The 26-year-old Howard has started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons for the Jets. The Jets signed him off the Ravens’ practice squad in 2011.

Teams have shown a willingness to pay for right tackles in free agency. Last offseason, the Vikings re-signed Phil Loadholt to a lucrative deal just before the start of the new league year, and the Colts struck quickly to sign Lions right tackle Gosder Cherilus once the signing period began.