Skip to main content

Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy on LT Tyron Smith: 'He Still Can Play at an Extremely High Level'

49ers HC Kyle Shanahan, Ravens HC John Harbaugh Talk Highly of DL Javon Kinlaw and LG John Simpson


The Jets have been active this offseason signing seven free agents from other teams during the first two weeks of official free agency.

With a host of new players, however, comes a lot of unknowns. At the 2024 NFL Owners Meetings this week in Orlando, the former head coaches of the Jets' newest additions spoke to the media and gave them, and the fans, a better idea of what to expect.

The Jets began their second week by making arguably their biggest signing of the offseason in All-Pro LT Tyron Smith. Smith, a first-round pick (No. 9) in 2011 by Dallas, started 13 games in 2023 for Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy.

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2010s All-Decade team and a potential future Hall of Famer, Smith's has experience, ability and is a true professional.

"Tyron is one of those guys who is in the weight room every morning," McCarthy said. "He takes great care of his body, still can play at an extremely high level. With the new schedule we put him on last year, I thought he knocked it out of the park. It's not as much as just getting him ready but still make sure he's coordinated with the left guard and the protection help components because it's always about the other guys. It's common sense to be smart with veteran players who've played a lot of snaps but how's that coordinated with game-planning and cohesiveness of his teammates. I thought he crushed it last year."

McCarthy became Dallas's head coach in 2020 and has had a 42-25 record over that stretch, which included three postseason appearances. In the games Smith played during McCarthy's tenure, the Cowboys went 20-10 and averaged 122.7 yards rushing per game.

"Tyron's special," McCarthy said. "He's obviously a great Cowboy and we want to make sure we recognize that, and he has a lot of football left. I just think he's played a lot of football. The injury challenges he has speaks for itself, but I thought he did an incredible job last year. I thought our plan for him last year was probably the best one we had for him in my time here. His professionalism and his approach is second to none in operating in that realm as far as how he prepared. If Tyron stays healthy, the've got themselves a special player."

See photos of OL Tyron Smith visiting the training facility for the first time as a Jet.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh provided insight on LG John Simpson. Simpson signed with the Jets the second day of official free agency (March 14) after one season with Baltimore.

"He's a good athlete," Harbaugh said. "He's a fourth-round pick out of Clemson for a reason and physically he's a big guy [6-4, 330]. I just like him as a person. He's really determined, he's really conscientious, he wants to be a good teammate, all the things that you're looking for."

Drafted by the Raiders in the fourth-round (No. 109) of the 2020 NFL Draft, Simpson spent three seasons with Las Vegas before being released in December 2022. He then signed with Baltimore 10 -days later.

In 2023, Simpson won the training camp battle for the starting left guard spot over rookie Malaesala Aumavea-Laulu and former third-round pick Ben Cleveland. He started all 17 games for the league's No. 1 rushing offense (156.5 yards per game) and played a team-high 1,159 snaps.

"He's a great guy, a hard worker, he's very determined, he really wants to do well," Harbaugh said. "I love him, I wish he was still going to be a Raven. But the Jets got a really good player and a really good person."

Kyle Shanahan, head coach of the reigning NFC champion 49ers, spoke glowingly of DL Javon Kinlaw.

Kinlaw, drafted by the San Francisco in the first round (No. 14) of the 2020 draft, signed the same day as Simpson following four seasons with the 49ers. His first three seasons in San Francisco he battled injuries playing in just 24 games (22 starts). Last season, he recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks for a 49ers defense that finished No. 3 in points allowed (17.5 per game).

"I was so happy for Javon," Shanahan said. "This year was really the first year where he fully got to play. I hated to lose him, but I can see why the Jets went ahead and paid him. His tape was good this year, the first year where he really was able to practice through throughout the year. He really found his niche on how to do it. I'm a big fan of Javon and you guys got a hell of a player."

Following the Kinlaw signing, the Jets continued to beef up their defensive line adding Cardinals DT Leki Fotu. Fotu, who was selected by Arizona in the fourth round (No. 114) of the 2020 draft, produced 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles last year.

Cards head coach Jonathon Gannon described Fotu's style briefly: "He's violent, aggressive and plays really hard."

Related Content