Jets Move Mekhi Becton To Right Tackle

Although padded practices have yet to commence in 2022, the Jets have determined their tackle configuration. Mekhi Becton will slide to the right side, leaving George Fant at the position Becton was drafted to play.

This marks a quicker-than-expected development for the Jets, though the prospect of Becton moving to the right side surfaced in late March. While Becton is still expected to start in 2022, the move is notable.

The team used Fant at right tackle opposite Becton in 2020, when the Louisville product enjoyed a quality rookie season. Questions about Becton’s weight soon surfaced, however, and the kneecap dislocation and MCL damage he suffered in Week 1 of last season sidelined him throughout his sophomore NFL slate. Becton did not participate in the Jets’ offseason program, creating a pivotal stretch during camp. The Jets made it clear early Becton’s area of concentration.

Fant, whom the Jets removed from their active/PUP list Wednesday, is going into a contract year. Fant and the Jets have discussed his deal this offseason. A solid season as a left tackle would only stand to drive up the former Seahawk’s value. Fant, 29, is set to make $9.75MM in base salary this season. He rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 39-ranked tackle in 2021; PFF slotted Becton 31st for his left tackle work in 2020. Fant has played both left and right tackle as a pro; Becton has only worked on the left side. The Jets let 2021 right tackle Morgan Moses walk in free agency in March.

Tackle moves of this sort are not exactly unheard of. The Cardinals flip-flopped tackles in 2017, switching Jared Veldheer and D.J. Humphries‘ roles. That switch came in Humphries’ third year; he remains Arizona’s left tackle. But moves like this are still rather rare. This Jets staff, however, was not in place when Becton began his career at left tackle.

Becton was connected to being over 400 pounds at the end of last season, and the team was not happy with his conditioning before he sustained the knee injury last year. The Jets hosted Riley Reiff this offseason and were linked to first-round tackles, but the team passed on adding notable tackle insurance. This move should create more motivation for Becton, whose value has undoubtedly dipped since going 11th overall two years ago. Becton can still rehabilitate his stock on the right side, but it will represent a new challenge early in a career replete with obstacles.

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