Latest On Jets’ Center, Tackle Competitions

Despite serving as a capable starting center for the last four years, Connor McGovern — who just completed a three-year, $27MM deal that he signed with the Jets in 2020 — did not find much of a market for his services this offseason. In April, McGovern signed a modest one-year, $1.92MM contract to remain with New York, and he watched the team draft Wisconsin snapper Joe Tippmann several days later.

While Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic (subscription required) recently reported that McGovern will get every chance to retain his starting job, he ultimately believes the club will hand the reins over to Tippmann for the start of the regular season. Rich Cimini of likewise believes McGovern is merely an “insurance policy” for the rookie. 

In the eyes of Pro Football Focus, McGovern finished as the 10th-best center out of 36 qualifiers in 2022, with solid scores for both his pass-blocking and run-blocking. PFF was similarly high on the Missouri product in 2021, but Gang Green clearly believed an upgrade was in order. As Cimini notes, McGovern ranked near the bottom of the league in ESPN’s pass- and run-block win rate metrics, and as the Jets are eyeing a deep playoff push, they are obviously trying to field the best lineup possible and will not give McGovern a boost because of his tenure with the team or the locker room respect that he enjoys.

Whichever player wins the right to snap the ball to Aaron Rodgers will be sandwiched by Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker at the guard positions. As Jets fans know all too well, however, there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the OT slots.

Mekhi Becton, a former first-rounder who was initially drafted to be the team’s franchise left tackle, has been plagued by knee injuries and conditioning problems, and after playing in Week 1 of the 2021 season, he has missed the last 33 games. Becton has lost a signficiant amount of weight in an effort to get his career back on track, and he has made it clear that he wants to return to the blindside. But recent reporting suggests that veteran Duane Brown — who has five Pro Bowls on his resume and who signed with New York last August when it becamse clear that Becton would miss the entire 2022 campaign — has the inside track to remain in that role.

The problem is that Brown is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and is presently unable to practice. That would seem to open the door for Becton to at least narrow the gap between himself and Brown on the left tackle depth chart, but as Brian Costello of the New York Post recently tweeted, Becton is currently taking LT reps with the second team, while free agent addition Billy Turner is working with the first-stringers. Connor Hughes of, meanwhile, says Becton is not a full participant just yet (Twitter link).

The fact that the Jets are taking it easy with Becton does not necessarily mean that he has suffered some sort of setback; at this point, any sort of participation on his part is encouraging. Still, it appears that the only way in which Becton will open the season as the starting left tackle is if Brown is unable to play, so Becton’s quickest path to a starting gig may be at right tackle (much to his chagrin). Turner, who worked under new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in Green Bay and Denver, will also be in the mix for that job, and Rosenblatt believes Turner will be the team’s Week 1 RT, with Becton or 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell getting the nod later on.

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