It’s been the number one concern of New York Jets fans all summer — the state and health of the offensive tackle position.
That nervousness began with former first-round selection Mekhi Becton, and it turned out to be warranted after the young blocker suffered his second-straight season-ending injury during training camp. Enter the 37-year-old Duane Brown and oh, by the way, George Fant has also been working his way back from knee surgery this summer.
Needless to say, the Jets are in a perilous state at O-tackle and to add to the drama, general manager Joe Douglas surprisingly cut projected backups Chuma Edoga, Conor McDermott and Grant Hermanns — although the latter did return on the practice squad. That leaves developmental rookie Max Mitchell as the sole swing option on the roster outside of a major reshuffling of starters.
Which begs the question: Will the Jets still add a veteran OT swing before Week 1?
Heavy’s NFL Insider Makes Some Calls
This exact question was posed to Heavy’s own NFL insider Matt Lombardo during his mailbag column this week and the response did not disappoint.
“There’s no doubt that Mekhi Becton’s injury threw a wrench into the New York Jets’ offensive tackle plans,” Lombardo began. “Even before New York signed Brown on August 15, multiple sources told Heavy the plan was for Brown to start at left tackle opposite Becton with Fant in the swing-tackle role due to concerns about Fant’s health and getting fully up to speed in the offense.”
This early note was a minor bombshell from Lombardo in its own right, but the Becton injury makes it a moot point. He continued further:
Multiple agents who represent offensive linemen claim the Jets are not making calls on veteran linemen, but some inside the league have heard differently. ‘I guarantee you they’re looking,’ an NFC personnel executive told Heavy. ‘A lot of teams are looking. They’re not good enough, or deep enough.’ The executive suggested Jason Peters as a fit, although the 40-year-old was also named as a fit for the Dallas Cowboys.
Is Peters an Option for NYJ?
We’ve spoken on the Peters connection here on Heavy in the past. It’s an intriguing idea if the long-time veteran is willing to settle on a backup role with a team that’s not necessarily viewed as a Super Bowl contender by most.
“Peters showed last season with the Chicago Bears that despite his age, he is still capable of playing at a high level,” Lombardo detailed. “According to Pro Football Focus, Peters allowed 6.0 sacks in 853 total snaps, but produced a 77.5 overall grade.”
The insider also noted a cautious warning on the subject (from the same unnamed NFC exec): “If you expect a veteran with 10-plus years of experience and you expect them to be a starter, you better hope you get eight games out of them. Hope. During the season. Because, once you get comfortable with an older guy at that position, if he gets hurt, you’re totally screwed, again.”
That same thought could apply to Brown as much as it applies to Peters.
One thing’s for sure, starting the season with three O-tackles doesn’t fit Douglas’ M.O. — especially when you factor in Fant’s injury history, Brown’s age, and Mitchell’s inexperience. It feels like the Jets will find a way to remedy this before Week 1 and a recent contract restructuring from C.J. Mosley should help.
Here are several other available free agents that could fit the description of a backup left tackle or veteran swing:
- Eric Fisher.
- Daryl Williams.
- Mike Remmer.
- Nate Solder.
- Brandon Shell.
- Kendall Lamm.
- Ty Nsekhe.