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Long-term implications of Becton injury
The news we were expecting but dreading came yesterday as Saleh confirmed that Becton is likely to miss the entire 2022 season with a fractured kneecap.
Yesterday we touched on the immediate need to fill that right tackle spot for the upcoming season. Today I want to focus on what this injury could mean for 2023 and beyond.
Before we do that, let’s get to the practice notes from yesterday.
Let’s start with some positives. Zach Wilson continues to stack up good practices completing 13-16 passes yesterday, including a couple of touchdowns to Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis. Zach hasn’t been perfect, but it’s unfair to expect him to be, but he’s hitting a lot of the short throws he was missing last year, which tells me he’s improved his footwork and mechanics.
Corey Davis continues to have a very good off-season. He had too many drops last year but that was abnormal for him, if he can lower that back to his career rate and continue his pre-season form into the 2022 season, the Jets are going to be difficult to stop on offense. Corey on his day is a matchup nightmare for any CB in the league.
DJ Reed continues to sit out of practice with a hamstring injury, the Jets aren’t concerned and expect to have the former Seattle man back next week but it’s always worth monitoring a hamstring injury because they can really drag in relation to recovery.
There was another scuffle in practice today, this time it was offensive lineman Grant Hermanns and defensive lineman Micheal Clemons going at it. I respect the confidence of Hermanns, but if there was one player on the Jets roster I wouldn’t mess with, it’s Clemons.
Elijah Moore continues to make play after play. It was a catch over the middle from Zach Wilson that had people singing his praises yesterday. His play was a huge feature of a 60-yard drive by Zach Wilson that ended with a Corey Davis touchdown.
The kicker battle continues to rage. Eddy brought it back earlier this week but Greg Zuerlein poked his head into the lead yesterday with a perfect day. Greg the leg was a perfect 5/5 including makes from 43, 48, and 55 yards. Eddy was 4/5 making a 55-yarder but missing the 43-yard attempt.
Sauce Gardner continues to lock down receivers. According to Athletic Jets beat writer Zack Rosenblatt, Sauce hasn’t had a single bad practice all off-season. Yesterday he was praised for perfect coverage on Garrett Wilson, with Reed missing on Friday, the expectation is that Sauce and Bryce Hall will start at outside cornerback.
When Joe Douglas took over the Jets General Manager role, he had a goal to overhaul the offensive line and offer stability to a unit that had been in a state of constant flux since D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold hung up their cleats.
Yesterday we looked at what the Jets would need to do to ensure their 2022 season is not derailed by the Mekhi Becton injury, today we’re going to focus on 2023 and beyond.
George Fant - Playing on the last year of his deal
Laken Tomlinson - Signed through 2024
Connor McGovern - Playing on the last year of his deal
Alijah Vera-Tucker - Signed through 2024, with a 5th-year option.
Mekhi Becton - Signed through 2023, with a 5th-year option
There is a world where the Jets will be looking for three starting offensive linemen next year. George Fant is still looking for a contract extension and progress has been slow for a couple of months now. I’ve heard nothing about Connor McGovern getting a new deal, and the Jets have a big decision on Mekhi Becton.
Before the start of the 2023 season, the Jets will need to decide whether to pick up Becton’s 5th-year option, which usually happens at the start of May. With Becton slated to miss his 2nd straight season through injury, there is little chance of the Jets picking that option up, it wouldn’t be logical. It also wouldn’t be logical to have Becton slotted as a starter in 2023, you have to plan as if he won’t be available because you can’t rely on a player who’s missed two seasons in a row.
Will the Jets try and trade him? I’ve seen that mentioned over the last 24 hours, but the market for a tackle who’s missed 2 of a possible 3 NFL seasons won’t be robust. Keeping him without relying on him is almost certainly the best option for the Jets.
The best case scenario is the Jets re-sign Fant and McGovern and Becton comes back healthy and puts a good season on the board. But does anyone really expect it to be that simple?
I do expect the Fant extension to get done, there is interest on both sides to get it over the line but I think the hope from Fant’s camp was to have it signed before the season starts and we’re running out of time for that to happen.
The 2023 free agent class at tackle has a few notable players headlined by Kansas City Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown Jr, who is playing the 2022 season on the franchise tag. Elgton Jenkins in Green Bay is an extremely versatile player who has played every position on the offensive line in his three-year career and excelled at each one. Jack Conklin is also a free agent and he’s one of the best right tackles in football when healthy, but he missed a large portion of the 2021 season so that’s a big question that will need to be answered in 2022.
The center market is a little less attractive, Rodney Hudson in Arizona is a notable name set to be available, but he’ll also be 34. Mitch Morse in Buffalo and Bradley Bozeman in Carolina are also set to be available, but I’d argue that in terms of run blocking and playing the system we want to play, Connor McGovern is the best option. I’ve often said this off-season that I’m fully in favor of Joe Douglas re-signing McGovern, and seeing the upcoming free agent market has done nothing to change my opinion on that.
The draft is always difficult to predict this far out. At this point last year nearly every mock draft had Spencer Rattler as the #1 pick, yet he headed back to college after transferring due to losing his starting job. People loved Ekwonu, but very few had him as a first-round talent at this stage last year.
If you want a few guys to keep an eye on in relation to the offensive line. Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr, Northwestern tackle Peter Skoronski, Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison, Notre Dame Center Jarrett Patterson, TCU Center Steve Avila, and N.C State center, Dylan McMahon.
The point here is that the Jets find themselves in a little bit of a sticky situation if they want to maintain consistency on the line. The guards are set for the next three years, but every other position comes with a huge question mark.
The Jets did draft Max Mitchell this year, and from my understanding, they genuinely see him as a long-term high-end starter, they have an incredible amount of faith in him at the NFL level. So it could be argued that the Jets may only be looking for two linemen next year if they can’t sign Fant and McGovern, but until we see him on the field, blocking an NFL edge rusher…it’s just too hard to project.
Deshaun Watson is set to start his first game in over a year when he lines up for the Cleveland Browns on Friday night.
The Buzz from Pittsburgh Steelers camp is that Mitch Trubisky is pulling ahead of rookie Kenny Pickett in the battle to be the starting QB.
Kyle Shanahan isn’t happy with the NFL who won’t allow him to wear any cap other than the official cap for the 2022 season.
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