Jets Projected to Give $15 Million to Former First-Round Pick

Alijah Vera-Tucker

Getty The New York Jets are projected to exercise the fifth-year option of former first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The New York Jets have just a few more weeks to pick up the fifth-year option for Alijah Vera-Tucker, the team’s former first-round pick from 2021.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay projected which fifth-year options would get picked up prior to the May 2 deadline. There are some obvious no-brainers from the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, Vera-Tucker’s decision isn’t a slam dunk according to Kay.

“Vera-Tucker has been great when healthy, but injuries have limited him to only 28 games,” Kay wrote. “He’s played every position other than center for the New York Jets and thrived at all of them, but his 12 appearances over the last two seasons could give the front office pause in extension negotiations. Still, his versatility and upside warrant at least one more season.”

Vera-Tucker would be due to make $15.3 million in 2025 on the option. That’s a hefty price tag, but the 24-year-old has a chance to make that look like a bargain with a big 2024 season.

Alijah Vera-Tucker’s Breakout Could Be Coming

It’s been a roller coaster of a start to Vera-Tucker’s NFL career. However, 2024 could be the year that he finally settles into a role that will help him reach his full potential.

Vera-Tucker was a 4-star recruit in high school before committing to USC. He started 19 games for the Trojans playing both guard and tackle with back-to-back All-Pac-12 honors.

After a strong college career, Vera-Tucker was taken with the 14th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. His career got off to a strong start with 16 starts as the team’s left guard as a rookie.

However, new faces and injuries to starters caused Vera-Tucker to move around the offensive line in 2022 and 2023. Both seasons were also cut short due to separate injuries. He suffered a torn triceps in 2022 and a torn Achilles the following season.

The Jets are hoping for some stability for Vera-Tucker in 2024. The team has even publicly stated that they plan on keeping him at one spot on the offensive line to help him regain some lost confidence.

With a clean bill of health and a locked-down position, Vera-Tucker could regain his footing this season.

The Jets Need Long-Term Answers on the Offensive Line

The Jets have completely revamped their offensive line this offseason. However, all of these short-term answers won’t be viable long-term options in New York.

Tyron Smith was arguably New York’s splashiest signing of free agency. A former All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys, he signed a one-year deal to hold down the left tackle spot. However, he’s 33 years old on a short-term deal, and the team doesn’t have a long-term answer at a vital position.

Morgan Moses is also 33 years old. The Jets reunited with the veteran tackle thanks to a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. He’ll also be a free agent after the 2024 season, and it’s unclear how much longer he’ll continue to play in the NFL.

Adding established veterans on the offensive line is a great short-term move to keep Aaron Rodgers clean in the pocket. However, if they’re serious about rebuilding the unit, it might be worthwhile to prioritize linemen in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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