The New York Jets found their veteran replacement for injured offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
On August 11, the Jets agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Duane Brown, arguably the premier offensive tackle remaining in free agency, league sources confirmed to Heavy. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report Brown’s signing.
According to multiple league sources, the Jets had been monitoring Brown for the past several weeks, initially as an insurance policy on tackle George Fant’s ability to get fully healthy and fully up to speed in the offense after suffering a knee injury late last season.
However, when Mekhi Becton was lost for the season due to a patella injury, the Jets’ interest in Brown intensified. He’ll now be tasked with replacing Becton along the offensive line in front of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.
“Even at his age, he’s still a top-tier offensive tackle in this league,” an NFC defensive coach told Heavy. “His pass-blocking skills and athleticism are top notch.”
Schefter reports the Jets committed $22 million over the next two years to Brown, a clear indication that New York views him as a starting caliber left tackle.
Brown, 37, allowed 33 pressures and 8.0 sacks last season for the Seattle Seahawks, but as a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, the Jets are hoping that he provides some veteran stability to the offensive line and softens the blow from losing Becton.
How Duane Brown Fits With the Jets
Brown fills an immediate need for the Jets, but the question remains whether he can make the kind of impact to help New York reach their lofty goals on offense, in Wilson’s second season.
“He has a little bit left in the tank,” an NFC executive told Heavy. “But, he isn’t someone you win with, or win because of.”
Multiple league sources believe Brown will ultimately wind up at left tackle, despite the Jets’ comments affirming their belief that Fant could play the left side.
“He’s a serviceable left tackle,” an AFC coach told Heavy. “If nothing else, he filled a need after Becton’s injury.”
It will be interesting to see how much of Brown’s regression last season — he allowed six more sacks than he did during the 2020 campaign — was a byproduct of a lack of talent around him on Seattle’s porous line, or the result of time catching up to him.
Pro Football Focus lists Brown as the outlet’s No. 37 ranked tackle, after garnering a 71.5 overall grade, matching 69.6 pass-blocking and run-blocking marks.
Where the Jets go From Here With Becton
The Jets chose Becton No. 11 overall in the 2020 NFL draft, which was historically deep at the offensive tackle position, and the Louisville alum arrived in Florham Park with high expectations that he would finally be the savior of one of the NFL’s more beleaguered offensive lines.
However, injuries have wreaked havoc on Becton’s career, as the 23-year-old has only finished eight games that he’s started.
Becton’s injury couldn’t possibly come at a worse time, as he will likely now not play another snap before the Jets must make a decision whether to exercise his fifth-year option.
Even if general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh, and the Jets do decide to pick up Becton’s option, the organization will likely need to see him prove he can stay healthy and begin living up to expectations as a top pick before committing to him long-term.