Jets Forced to Make $15.3 Million Move on Alijah Vera-Tucker

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets

Getty New York Jets offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker reacting in the middle of an NFL game.

Now that the NFL cap has been set at 255.4 million, the fifth-year option amounts have been decided.

New York Jets offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker’s contractual option has been set at $15.3 million. The green and white have to decide by Tuesday, May 2 if they will accept or decline that option. Once exercised, that option is fully guaranteed.

If the team accepts it, AVT will be under team control for the next two years through 2025. However if the team declines it, AVT will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

The Pros and Cons of the Jets’ Decision on AVT

After the season Jets general manager Joe Douglas called AVT a “cornerstone player” on the offensive line that they want to build around.

That sure sounds like someone who is going to be here for the foreseeable future.

I asked Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic on “The Boy Green Show” if the Jets accepting AVT’s option is a slam dunk this offseason and he responded, “I think so. Just because when he plays he is very good.”

“When he plays” is exactly the reason this upcoming decision is even a debate. Vera-Tucker had season-ending surgeries end both of his campaigns over the last two years.

In the past, the fifth-year option was only guaranteed because of injury but a recent change to the rules makes it fully guaranteed as soon as you accept it. $15.3 million is a large chunk of change in any scenario let alone for a player who has struggled to stay on the field.

AVT didn’t have any injury issues when he was back in college at USC. Both of the injuries that have ended his seasons in the pros, a torn Achilles and a torn triceps, have been described to me as “freaky unfortunate injuries” by medical professionals.

Vera-Tucker is expected to make a full recovery and these are considered atypical for the offensive line position.

Where Are the Jets Going to Put AVT in 2024?

After moving him around like a bad game of musical chairs, the Jets are ready to find AVT his forever home.

Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed to the media that they plan on finding him a spot on the offensive line and keeping him there regardless of other future injuries to the rest of the line.

AVT started out as a left guard in his rookie season but flipped to right guard in his sophomore campaign. When he was injured, AVT was playing offensive tackle on both occasions.

Rosenblatt told me if he was forced to make a prediction in February he believes AVT will end up at “left or right guard.”

He also doesn’t believe the Jets know where they will play him right now.

“I don’t think they know right now. I’d put my money on guard but I do think he does give them the ability to wait [and figure it out],” Rosenblatt told me on “The Boy Green Show.” “I think they want to have the best [starting] five [offensive linemen]. I would keep him at guard because that’s where he is best but he was really really good at tackle. I’m intrigued by that.”

Connor Rogers of NBC Sports said the Jets have a “competitive advantage” with AVT’s positional flexibility on the offensive line.

In theory, they can pursue whoever they want in free agency, trade, and the NFL draft this offseason. Once the dust settles, the Jets can then pick where they want to best deploy AVT.

Jets analyst Joe Caporoso mentioned on X previously Twitter that the interior offensive line market appears stronger than the offensive tackle market in free agency. If the Jets add a proven guard, that could open the door for a permanent AVT slide to tackle.

Read More