$20 Million Jets Starter Refused to Retire Amid Serious Injury

Zach Wilson, Jets

Getty New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson taking a snap during an NFL game.

The New York Jets have unfortunately experienced free-agent failure throughout their storied history.

They have identified countless talented players over the years and paid them a lot of money to come in and deliver. Sadly more times than not those players have fallen short of expectations due to injuries, poor performance, or all of the above.

It appeared that veteran offensive tackle Duane Brown was destined to join those ranks. After flirting with a potential signing during the preseason the Jets were in scramble mode after Mekhi Becton was lost for the year.

That forced the Jets to pay a premium price for an older player (37 years of age) to the tune of $20 million with $9 million of that guaranteed.

Duane Brown Suffers Serious Injury Ahead of Ravens Game

Brown was initially discussed as a potential backup swing tackle, but after the Becton injury that conversation evolved into a starting role.

Heading into the season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens, Brown was slated to be the blindside protector for Zach Wilson.

Unfortunately, the veteran big man suffered a serious shoulder injury early in game week that forced the team to place him on injured reserve unexpectedly.

That meant at a minimum Brown was slated to miss the first four games of the season if not more.

The Jets had been non-specific on what exactly the injury was that Brown suffered, however, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport cleared that up on Twitter:

“Jets left tackle Duane Brown is playing despite a torn rotator cuff, a source said. He opted for rehab rather than surgery with hopes his 2022 [season] would continue.”

If Brown would have opted for surgery he would have missed the entirety of the 2022 season before it ever truly began for him.

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur expounded upon that during his press conference on Thursday, October 13:

“We brought him in (Duane Brown) and it was a great addition by Joe Douglas and his staff and then he gets the injury. He easily could have walked out of here and no one would’ve batted an eye in terms of the respect you have for him. For him to say you know what I’m not going out like this, that’s the exact words he used, I’m not going out like this. He could have walked away, it was fully guaranteed and he wasn’t leaving. I have respect for him, I’ve gotten to know him over the last 5-6 weeks. He is the ultimate professional, he will do whatever it takes, he does not care, he wasn’t walking out without playing this game.”

Duane Brown Is a Pleasant Surprise

LaFleur said if Brown simply would’ve decided to hang up his cleats after this serious injury everyone would have understood.

It does come off as a very Jets situation though.

Throughout his 15-year NFL career Brown had been an iron man. Over the last four seasons, he had played in three full campaigns and had only missed four total games.

Of course, when he signs with the Jets immediately health became a question mark.

Despite what appeared to be a very serious injury that would have forced the Jets to make another pivot in the offensive tackle room, Brown stepped up for his team.

Wilson said during his press conference availability in the locker room that the fact that Brown is willing to “sacrifice his arm” for the team speaks volumes about his character and how much he loves his teammates.

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