A Jets First-Rounder’s ‘Future Is Already in Question’: Insider

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh staring off into space before an NFL game.

Earlier this week the New York Jets lost their star offensive tackle, Mekhi Becton, for the season due to a fractured kneecap.

Although the latest buzz could indicate that not only is his immediate future murky, but so is his long-term future.

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A Sad State of Affairs

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic wrote a beautiful long feature talking about the past, present, and future of Becton in a Jets uniform.

Since being the No. 11 overall pick out of the 2020 NFL draft, the former Louisville product has only finished eight total football games. That means he started those games and also finished them.

There have been plenty of examples where he would start a game but would leave shortly thereafter due to injury.

Now with him out for the entirety of the 2022 season, Becton will have missed 33 of the last 34 games. That is significant for a few reasons including how that factors into a big-time decision at the beginning of May.

Rosenblatt explained why the odds say Gang Green will decline his fifth-year option and gave a murky prediction for his future in New York:

“The Jets have to make a decision on his fifth-year option for 2024 by May — and odds are, they’ll wind up declining it. The harsh reality of the NFL is that Becton’s career has barely started, and his future with the Jets is already in question.”

All of that seems crazy to say for a 23-year-old talent that still has all the potential in the world to be a star in the NFL. However it is the brutal reality for a player with so many injuries early on.

The World Keeps Spinning

With Becton out for the season, the Jets signed veteran Duane Brown to a two-year deal worth over $22 million.

He will immediately fill the void for Becton this season and could even be the answer in 2023 as well.

When players are out for the season they often become ghosts in the facilities. The coaches and players are forced to move on to deal with whatever is happening during the football season.

Becton won’t travel with the team to road games and won’t be in the public eye as much as he would’ve been if he never got hurt.

That will cause his story and future to get lost in the shuffle, but remember the Jets will have to make a decision on his fifth-year option in early May.

As previously discussed Rosenblatt said on the Can’t-Wait Podcast that he “couldn’t imagine” the Jets exercising that option. Especially because that option is now fully guaranteed, previously it was only guaranteed for injury.

That means if the Jets decline the option, Becton will be heading into a contract year following the 2023 season.

Rosenblatt said his gut says Becton is still on the team in training camp, but there are a ton of unknown variables.

For the Jets, there is no other choice.

If the green and white were going to trade Becton they would’ve had to do it during this offseason. As soon as he got hurt for a second consecutive year with a serious injury, his value evaporated.

Although credit head coach Robert Saleh for going out of his way to provide a passionate statement to the fan base and giving Becton his support for the future by saying, “we love Mekhi. We appreciate everything he’s done. His ride is not over. His story is not over.”

Now with a murky future ahead, Becton will now have to prepare, rehab, and try to get himself ready for the 2023 season.

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