NFL Insider Tags Jets’ Mekhi Becton as ‘Deep Sleeper’ in Trade Talks

Mekhi Becton

Getty New York Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton on December 6, 2020.

It was a wasted season for New York Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton in year two and critics are only getting louder by the day, whether they’re talking about his weight concerns or his work ethic.

The one thing nobody doubts is his talent, but sometimes talent can only get you so far in a league as competitive as the NFL. Becton should get one more offseason to prove that he belongs on Robert Saleh’s Jets — at the least — but an NFL insider wrote that the leash may not be much longer after that.

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Becton Listed as ‘Under-the-Radar Trade Candidate’

ESPN staff writer and NFL insider Jeremy Fowler put together an article on “under-the-radar trade candidates” in 2022 and the 6-foot-7 left tackle represented the Jets — despite the fact that he was only drafted in 2020. Fowler stated:

This feels like a long shot because GM Joe Douglas might have a tough time moving off his first draft pick in New York. Plus, concern about his fit in the Jets’ zone-running scheme is a bit overblown. Becton is a major talent who should be scheme-transcendent, but his second year couldn’t have gone worse. He came to camp overweight and missed 16 games with knee issues. The Jets found something with George Fant and Morgan Moses at the tackle spots, though Moses is a free agent and upped his value. (No wonder the Jets tried to do a two-year deal with Moses last summer.) The Jets believe Becton is a good player who probably didn’t respond to Year 2 adversity well enough, so how he responds this offseason will be crucial for him. Let’s call this one a deep sleeper. Nothing is expected to happen, but his name bears watching.

We’ve heard varied reports about Becton’s standing within the Jets organization but one eye-opening piece from Tony Pauline suggested that the coaching staff was fed up with the young blocker. The Pro Football Network analyst added that there might be a “possible split” on his future with the franchise, between Douglas and Saleh’s staff.

The Jets have kept this situation close to the vest and Fowler’s right, a bounce-back campaign would silence all the skeptics who want to discuss motivation or scheme fit. Still, the arrival of Douglas was supposed to end nonsense like this in New York and when drama arose with Jamal Adams or Marcus Maye, the excuse was that Mike Maccagnan drafted those players.

That explanation does not exist with Becton. He’s a Douglas guy and not only that, he was the GM’s first selection on the job.

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What Would a Becton Trade Look Like?

Just for the sake of speculation, what might a Becton trade even look like at this point and time? Because it’s hard to believe that a first-round pick is still on the table.

First off, a deal like this is not happening before June 1. As Fowler noted, “nothing is expected to happen” anytime soon and the Jets will probably monitor Becton’s enthusiasm over the offseason.

The second part of that is his rookie contract, which has a dead cap hit of over 100% if you trade him before June 1. What do I mean by that? Becton is scheduled to make $5.03 million in 2022 but his dead cap hit would rise to $5.487 million and change if you move him too early. After June 1, that dead cap number drops to a little under $2.744 million.

So for those expecting a trade before the NFL draft, that’s not happening. Having said that, depending on how free agency and those 2022 picks shake out, Douglas could make a move later on if his left tackle continues to regress. At that point, Gang Green may have some added insurance on the roster at the position.

Depending on his health and physical shape, Becton might garner something along the lines of a conditional second in 2023, but that’s a long way down the road.

It would be a horrible look and an eerie reminder of old times for Jets fans if they ended up parting ways with the former first-round pick before year three of his rookie deal. At the same time, the only way to build a culture is to stand by what you believe in.

Douglas and Saleh must do everything in their power to make this relationship work out in the long run but if Becton refuses to meet them halfway, he’ll quickly learn that no player is untouchable.

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