The New York Jets are going to be playing a game of musical chairs with the offensive line this offseason.
A Troubling Injury for Jets OT Duane Brown
Cimini didn’t specify why he believed Brown wouldn’t back next season, but it is easy to read the tea leaves of the situation.
Brown, who will be 38 years old when the 2023 season starts, has played the past 11 games with a shoulder injury (a torn rotator cuff, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport) suffered in the week before the season opener. If Brown elects to repair the damaged shoulder in the offseason, recovery would take two to four months, according to Rothman Orthopaedics.
Considering Brown’s age and additional damage incurred playing through the injury this season, retirement seems as though it could be a viable option this offseason.
After spending the first four games of the season on injured reserve, Brown chose to forgo season-ending surgery and play through the injury. He has played on every single offensive snap since then.
Brown “easily could have walked out of here,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur told reporters on October 13. “For him to say, ‘You know what, I’m not going out like this’ — that’s the exact words that he used: ‘I’m not going out like this’ — he could’ve walked away, it was fully guaranteed, and he wasn’t leaving.”
Cimini wrote that if the Jets move on from Brown, the team will get hit with cap charges of $6.3 million in 2023 and $4.7 million in 2024.
Losing Brown Would Leave a Massive Void on Jets OL
When the Jets initially kicked the tires on Brown in the preseason it was with a first-world problem mindset. The team thought it could sign Brown as a swing tackle in case another starter on the line went down with injury.
When Becton was lost for the season, the idea of signing Brown went from a luxury to a priority and the Jets coughed up more money than they were probably comfortable handing out, but the problem of replacing Becton was solved.
Bleacher Report gave the Jets an “A” grade for the deal, writing on August 18: “Finding Brown available was a best-case scenario in this situation. Though he’s on the older side at 36, he has shown that he’s still capable of playing at a high if not elite level. Financially, it’s not a bad deal for a New York team in a jam. Brown is now the 26th-highest-paid offensive tackle in annual salary. Getting a Pro Bowl-level lineman at that price and with a dire need is a big win.”
Upon coming off injured reserve, Brown has been solid for the Jets. He has earned an impressive 74.2 pass block grade from Pro Football Focus.
If he is not on the team next season, the Jets would have a massive void to fill in the trenches, both literally (6-foot-4, 329 pounds) and figuratively.
Becton has been lost in back-to-back seasons to serious injuries. George Fant is a pending free agent. Rookie sensation Max Mitchell exclusively played on the right side prior to being lost for the season due to blood clots.
It all adds up to more questions than answers at offensive tackle.