You can practically feel it in the air, NFL free agency is right around the corner and the New York Jets have several areas to shore up.
One well-known position of need is offensive tackle. General manager Joe Douglas will enter the 2023 offseason with four tackles under contract. Those players are the 37-year-old Duane Brown, the oft-injured former first-round pick Mekhi Becton, the new potential health-risk Max Mitchell, and Eric Smith — who most likely just produced a collective, “who,” from readers.
This is not exactly a crew of iron men, and Douglas will need to add some talent and depth here no matter who is at quarterback in 2023. One option is to draft a new left tackle at No. 13 overall, and if the Jets go that route, NFL analyst Jim Cerny of Clutch Points believes the Green & White should look into a veteran reunion behind that youngster: Former three-year starter Kelvin Beachum, who has spent his past three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
Jets, Kelvin Beachum Reunion Makes Sense for All Parties
So, here’s the scenario from Cerny. “The assumption here is that Duane Brown either retires or is cut, Mekhi Becton returns healthy after two seasons dealing with knee issues and the Jets use the No. 13 overall pick in the draft on a tackle,” he explained.
Adding: “Reuniting with this former New York tackle is not a sexy option. But the 33-year-old is a good fit in a backup role and could slide in as a starter if something goes awry, as it often did this season.”
In other words, Brown gets released as a post-June 1 designation cut in a cap saving move of $9.705 million (pushing his dead cap hit of $4.728 million into 2024). The Jets then sign Derek Carr or any free agent quarterback that does not force them to trade their first-round pick, with a clear plan to spend it on the best OT available barring something unforeseen. In the meantime, they sign Beachum, a veteran swing tackle that should only cost a third of what Brown is making.
That would give you four solid options at offensive tackle between Becton, Mitchell, the new draft pick, and Beachum.
As a cherry on top, Jets fans might remember that Beachum is extremely durable. Over his underrated 11-year career, the former seventh-round selection has started 147 games with 152 appearances. Throughout his NFL tenure, he’s only logged less than 15 appearances three times — twice with the Pittsburgh Steelers on his rookie contract and once with the Jets during his final campaign in 2019 (13 starts).
“Beachum is a decent pass protector and not great in the run game,” Cerny continued, concluding: “He’s also reliable, has been healthy and would be a familiar, affordable option.”
Pro Football Focus projected Beachum’s salary at two years, $3 million ($2 million total guaranteed) in free agency.
Jets’ Mekhi Becton Is Feeling Fit Heading Into 2023
Becton got some end-of-season buzz after he showed up in the locker room on the final media day looking leaner than usual.
“Mekhi Becton looks slim,” veteran beat reporter Brian Costello tweeted at the time, and New York Daily News reporter Antwan Staley added emphatically that “The Big Ticket is here.”
Fans still have questions about the first-round disappointment’s health and rightfully so, but on the bright side, the hard work appears to have continued into February. Becton posted another photo of himself on Twitter on February 22 with an adjacent meme that read: “Damn, I look good.”
He also captioned the picture: “YALL WORKOUT TODAY??” Adding: “Ya boy look real swolioli, [if you know you know].”
Becoming a father appears to have inspired the high-ceiling prospect more than anything. Back on January 9, he told reporters that “it’s been good for me [mentally] to be around my son [and] see him grow up.”
He also made it clear that he’s “very motivated” to win the left tackle job back in 2023.