Mekhi Becton

Jets Expect Mekhi Becton To Be Ready For Training Camp, Undecided On Position

The Jets’ Mekhi Becton waiting game has lasted a while, and this lengthy delay has led to doubts about his living up to the potential he showed as a rookie in 2020. But the Jets do have a timetable for their large left (or right) tackle.

Robert Saleh said Wednesday the team expects Becton to practice when training camp opens July 26, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Becton later said he is close to 100% (Twitter links). Since suffering a dislocated kneecap and sprained MCL in Week 1 of last season, Becton has been on the mend. He did not show for OTAs but has been at Jets minicamp, though not as a participant.

Issues about Becton’s weight and his position continue to surround the Jets’ offensive line. 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. Saleh did not confirm Wednesday if Becton is currently at a Jets-preferred weight, and Becton later declined to share his present weight. Doubts aside, Saleh said the third-year Louisville alum is a “transcendent” talent when healthy, Cimini tweets.

Health issues have plagued Becton since his rookie year. While the team’s then-unquestioned left tackle only missed two full games in 2020, he needed to be subbed out at points in others for health reasons. George Fant‘s play at left tackle last year has thrust the ex-basketball convert to a place in which he very well could relocate Becton up front. Saleh said the team is not sure if Becton will be the Jets’ first-string left tackle to start training camp, but the prospect of Fant playing there and Becton switching to the right side has been floated this offseason.

The Jets were connected to tackles in the first round, but they veered toward more pressing needs, giving Becton better odds at keeping a starting job. The team did, however, host veteran Riley Reiff on a recent visit. Reiff would seemingly represent Becton insurance. The team lost 2021 right tackle Morgan Moses in free agency, clearing a path for a Fant-Becton tackle tandem. Fant has experience on both the left and right sides, primarily playing right tackle during Becton’s 2020 rookie year. It will be interesting to see how the Jets configure their O-line — one that now has ex-49er Laken Tomlinson joining Alijah Vera-Tucker at guard — come camp.

AFC East Notes: Poyer, Becton, Jets, Patriots

Jordan Poyer continues to pursue a new contract, but that won’t keep him away from mandatory minicamp. The Bills All-Pro safety is in attendance for practice this week, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

The impending free agent is seeking a new deal, and the Bills have been in communication with the player’s camp. According to ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg, Poyer’s participation may be limited in a pseudo-holdout move.

“I think Jordan is in a good place mentally,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “He’s still staying in touch with his teammates, and hopefully, we’ll see him soon.”

Poyer has been a consistent starter on the Bills defense since joining the organization in 2017, missing only a pair of games. After collecting 100+ tackles between 2018 and 2020, the safety earned his first career All-Pro nod in 2021 after finishing with 93 tackles, three sacks, and five interceptions. The veteran inked a two-year extension with the organization in 2020.

More out of the AFC East:

  • The Jets could turn to a committee approach as they look to replace Jamison Crowder‘s spot at slot receiver, writes ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Many assumed that Braxton Berrios would slide into the role, but head coach Robert Saleh admitted the team is “working through it” and prefers to slide players in and out of the spot to keep things unpredictable. Elijah Moore and rookie Garrett Wilson are among the receivers who could join Berrios in the slot rotation.
  • Jets defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd rejected a better offer to re-sign with the Jets on a one-year, $1.1MM deal, according to Cimini. Incredibly, the 2018 draft pick is the team’s longest-tenured player, and he’s earned a reputation as a hard worker and loyal player. As Cimini notes, Shepard is now the biggest player on the team with Folorunso Fatukasi gone, and that could mean the veteran will see a more significant role in run-stopping situations.
  • Jets offensive lineman Mekhi Becton made it to mandatory minicamp after having sat out previous voluntary sessions, tweets ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The lineman didn’t practice, presumably because he’s still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. Meanwhile, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano writes that the player’s ability to return to the field could ultimately influence the left tackle competition between Becton and George Fant. “The faster that you can stamp ‘Hey, this is what we feel like is going to be our best going into Week 1 vs. Baltimore,’ the faster we can do that the better,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said (via Vacchiano). “I think it will play itself out fairly quickly. When we get back (for training camp), we’re rolling, we’re running the football, and we’re going to see. It’ll all play itself out.”
  • At least one “prominent” member of the Patriots offense believed the coaching staff was unprepared at the start of the team’s offseason workout, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. Following Josh McDaniels move to Las Vegas, the Patriots haven’t replaced anyone as their offensive coordinator, with former ST coordinator Joe Judge and former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia apparently taking on larger roles on offense. However, it sounds like the coaches are settling into roles, with Kyed describing Judge as the “passing game coordinator” and Patricia as the “running game coordinator.” Naturally, head coach Bill Belichick recently swatted away any questions about the offensive play calling. “If you’re asking about game plans, we’re months away from that — months,” Belichick said. “Months away. Months. What plays are we calling? Mini-camp plays?”

Jets’ Mekhi Becton Expected To Attend Minicamp

The Jets haven’t seen Mekhi Becton in person this offseason, but that will likely change this week. ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports that the offensive tackle is expected to attend mandatory minicamp. 

[RELATED: Jets Host OT Reiff]

Becton chose to skip the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason, in a move which surprised many. He is still one year away from being eligible for an extension, so the decision wasn’t a result of a contract dispute. That, coupled with his injury situation, made his absence somewhat noteworthy.

The 2020 first-rounder played just one game last year due to a knee injury. The recovery from the resulting surgery didn’t go according to plan, adding to the list of health- and conditioning-related concerns which have dogged the early part of his NFL career. Further compounding those issues is the fact that Cimini reports Becton isn’t expected to practice this week.

After losing the Louisville alum in Week 1, the Jets turned to veteran George Fant at left tackle. His level of play there, coupled with the availability concerns related to Becton, has left open the possibility for the latter to play at right tackle. With Morgan Moses having left in free agency, that starting spot is available for him, but a lack of practice reps in the offseason will leave question marks about his effectiveness there.

A return to health will, of course, be the top priority for Becton and the Jets heading into 2022. The team will get a much-needed update on that front if he does attend minicamp, but where he lines up in training camp and the start of the season – along with his level of play – will remain a story worth watching.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Becton, Jets, White

In the research that led to the Bills’ new stadium deal in Buffalo, the team acknowledged that they looked at many cities that are “oft-mentioned in NFL circles,” according to Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News.

The Bills organization didn’t specify which cities they researched, but O’Shei’s report lists those often-discussed cities as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, and Louisville. International markets, such as Toronto or London, have also recently entered discussions.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple notes from Jersey:

  • In a post-Draft analysis of the Jets, ESPN’s Rich Cimini discussed the situation surrounding Jets tackle Mekhi Becton. Rumors before the draft were hinting that New York would use one of their two top-ten draft picks to add a tackle to assist them in moving on from Becton, but the Jets instead addressed the cornerback and receiver rooms. Head coach Robert Saleh initially claimed Becton would compete with George Fant for the blindside job, but hinted more recently that Becton may move to the right side of the line. Unfortunately for the Jets, they won’t have an opportunity to see how he fits over there until he reports, as Becton has decided to skip the team’s voluntary workouts. Cimini makes a great point that, since their insurance policy of Morgan Moses departed to Baltimore in free agency, it is crucial that Becton sees success at right tackle.
  • Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated also wrote an analysis of the NFL Draft with a section focusing on the Jets’ historic first round. Breer mentions how, after the Jets were able to land Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the top-ten, Saleh encouraged general manager Joe Douglas to go after Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II should he start to slide down the board. New York turned up the heat after the Eagles moved ahead of the Ravens and Johnson continued to fall, making phone calls to the Texans (at 15), the Commanders (at 16), and the Chargers (at 17). After talking to the Titans, who had moved up to 18 with the A.J. Brown-trade, Douglas knew Tennessee was going to select a wide receiver to fill their new A.J. Brown-shaped hole, but a discussion was made about a potential swap for the Titans’ other first-round pick at 26. Douglas had only one line in the sand: the Jets owned two early second-round picks, and he wanted to keep at least one of them, to eventually draft Iowa State running back Breece Hall. Johnson fell right into their laps at 26, and the Jets had their three Day 1-selections.
  • Unfortunately for the Patriots, Becton won’t be the only AFC East player missing voluntary workouts this month as veteran running back James White is still recovering from the hip injury that ended his 2022 season in a Week 3 loss to the Saints, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. White was quoted at the team’s draft party, saying, “I still have a little while to go (after) a pretty rough injury.” Reiss points out that this is a golden opportunity for running back J.J. Taylor to show he has what it takes to take over White’s role.

Jets Considering Mekhi Becton At RT

After a knee injury knocked him out for the majority of the 2021 campaign, Mekhi Becton is expected to slide back into the starting lineup…just maybe not at left tackle. When speaking with reporters today, Jets head coach Joe Douglas wouldn’t definitively say whether Becton will slot in at his usual starting spot.

“[W]e are operating like Mekhi is going to be one of our two tackles,” Douglas said (via Brian Costello of the New York Post on Twitter). “That’s our expectation that he’s going to come back ready to roll. I know he’s fired up to get back on the field and compete.”

When the Jets drafted Becton with the 11th-overall pick in the 2020 draft, he was expected to be their starting left tackle for the foreseeable future. He started 13 games at the position during his rookie campaign, and he was expected to slide back into that spot in 2021. However, midway through the first game of the 2021 season, Becton suffered a knee injury that ultimately kept him off the field for the rest of the year.

As ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes, the Jets may not be committing to Becton at left tackle in the hopes that the player “gets the message and fulfills his immense potential.” Further, Cimini opines that George Fant, who started 15 games at left tackle last year, deserves to defend his starting spot. There’s a good chance that the loser of the LT competition would simply slide over to RT, but Cimini leaves open the possibility that the Jets could select an offensive tackle with the fourth-overall pick, which would force one of Fant or Becton to the bench.

AFC Rumors: Bengals, Colts, Chark, Jets

The Bengals‘ Super Bowl LVI performance made their offensive line need known worldwide. While the team is not traditionally known for big-ticket free agency splashes, it has spent to fortify its defense over the past two offseasons. O-line reinforcements may be coming, too. At least, a growing expectation exists the Bengals will try to add multiple blockers in free agency, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Cincinnati still has Joe Burrow tied to a rookie contract through at least 2022 and holds nearly $35MM in cap space, as of Saturday. The Bengals have not been much for spending on guards, letting both Evan Mathis and Kevin Zeitler leave in free agency during the 2010s, but they may need to deviate from that blueprint soon. Cincinnati has been connected to centers ahead of the market’s opening, being mentioned as interested in Ryan Jensen and Bradley Bozeman. Not usually a closely monitored team in free agency, at least nationally, the Bengals will see their O-line strategy spotlighted soon.

With the legal tampering period less than 48 hours away, here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Mentioned in this week’s Amari Cooper trade talks, the Dolphins saw the Browns acquire the veteran from the Cowboys. The Dolphins also may have their eye on a cheaper option. They have been connected to D.J. Chark ahead of free agency’s outset, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus tweets. Despite changing coaches again, the Jaguars would like to re-sign Chark. The Dolphins’ 2021 receiver plan partially worked out, with Jaylen Waddle showing immediate promise. But Will Fuller bombed on his one-year Miami deal. The Fins also have DeVante Parker headed into his age-29 season. Chark suffered a fractured ankle in October but surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in 2019. He may not have to settle for a prove-it deal in free agency.
  • In what would make for interesting trade talks, Gardner Minshew is a name to watch for the Colts, La Canfora tweets. Not only did the Colts acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles last year, they faced Minshew during the 2019 and ’20 seasons when he piloted bad Jaguars teams. Of course, Minshew went 2-0 as a starter against Indianapolis during his Jacksonville stay. The Colts landed a surprising return for Wentz, but they now have a glaring QB need again. One year remains on Minshew’s rookie contract.
  • Some of Joe Douglas‘ top draft choices have fallen out of favor with the Jets. Not only has Mekhi Becton struggled with injuries and his weight, but Connor Hughes of The Athletic notes the Jets were close to benching the former first-round left tackle before his Week 1 injury last year (subscription required). Becton reporting to the team’s offseason program and training camp in less-than-ideal shape irked the Jets, and the knee injury sustained cost him 16 games. The mammoth edge blocker showed promise when available as a rookie, but going into 2022, he appears behind George Fant to be Gang Green’s left tackle.
  • While Becton has displayed starter-caliber talent, Denzel Mims has barely seen the field. The 2020 second-round pick has clashed with coaches during practices, Hughes adds, leading to a real chance he will not be with the Jets when they set their 53-man roster in September. Mims caught eight passes for 133 yards last season. Although the Jets are holding out hope the 6-foot-3 wideout will pan out, his future is very much in question.

Jets Rumors: Draft, Hamilton, Thibodeaux 

The Jets are high on safety Kyle Hamilton, according to sources who spoke with Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Armed with picks Nos. 4 and 10, the Notre Dame standout should be there for Gang Green, if that’s who they want to take. Still, with several weeks to go between now and the draft, the Jets have ample time to consider all of their options, including players at more premium positions.

Here’s more out of East Rutherford, via Cimini:

  • The Jets are “always looking at” big defensive linemen, as head coach Robert Saleh noted recently, and that could lead them to Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. Cimini hears that the Jets would be hard-pressed to pass on him if he slips to No. 4. He’s long been thought to be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, but it’s definitely possible that Thibodeaux could fall to the Jets at No. 4.
  • Some insiders believe that GM Joe Douglas will zero in on the offensive line with a tackle at one of their two Top 10 picks. That’ll largely be dictated by the George Fant / Mekhi Becton situation, Cimini hears. The Jets may opt to leave Fant on the left side and move Becton to the right. If they follow through on that, that’s a sign that the Jets are losing confidence in Becton’s ability to shed weight and, by extension, his long-term potential.
  • While some see the cornerback position as a major draft target, Saleh continues to pump up his current trio of Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, and Michael Carter II. “The challenge for those three is to find the ball. Once they do that, they’ll be right there with the upper echelon of the league.” Combined, the three CBs tallied just two interceptions last year.
  • Braxton Berrios could be too rich for the Jets’ blood this offseason. One agent predicted that the speedy wideout will look for top slot money, which would put him at ~$9MM/year.
  • Jets tight ends coach Ron Middleton is fond of Colorado State’s Trey McBride and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, but it’s not clear if the scouting department likes either player enough in Round 2. The Jets could pass on that group of pass-catching TEs, Cimini hears, which would prompt them to spend in free agency instead.

Jets’ Mekhi Becton, George Fant To Compete For LT Job; Team Seeking Extension For Fant?

Having drafted LT Mekhi Becton with the No. 11 overall pick of the 2020 draft, the Jets were surely hoping that the Louisville product would not be fighting for his job after two seasons in the NFL. But according to head coach Robert Saleh, that’s the situation that Becton finds himself in. Saleh recently told reporters, including Brian Costello of the New York Post, that Becton and George Fant will be competing for the starting left tackle position (Twitter link).

New York signed Fant to a three-year, $27.3MM contract in March 2020, and he had a disappointing first season in New York, playing on the right side of the line and finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 64th-best tackle out of 79 qualifiers. The Jets brought in veteran Morgan Moses last May with the assumption that he would serve as Becton’s bookend and push Fant to a swing tackle role, but Fant put together a good training camp and surprisingly held onto his RT post.

Then, Becton suffered a dislocated knee cap in Week 1 of the 2021 campaign, which forced the Jets to shift Fant to LT. The former Seahawks UDFA thrived, allowing just 18 pressures in his 15 games, third-fewest in the league. Becton, meanwhile, never got back onto the field. Though his injury was a serious one, conditioning problems appeared to complicate his recovery, which was not the first time that Becton had run into weight-related issues.

Becton is listed at 6-7 and 363 pounds, though he reportedly played at a higher weight than that as a rookie. And Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network hears that Becton was actually over 400 pounds by the time the 2021 season ended. Pauline also writes that the competition that Saleh referenced will not be much of a competition at all, and that Fant has been told the job is his to lose.

In fact, Pauline reports that the Jets are working on an extension for Fant, who will turn 30 in July and who is entering his contract year. Another season like the one he put together in 2021 could catapult him to top-tier LT money, and Gang Green may want to lock him in before that happens.

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, however, says there have been no extension talks with Fant. Cimini does confirm that the organizational concern with Becton is “very real,” and while the Jets are not going to part ways with him at this point, they want to see him committed to dropping weight this offseason. There is a good chance that the club will keep Fant at LT and move Becton to RT — which would perhaps obviate the need to draft a player like Alabama OT Evan Neal — but New York has also not foreclosed the possibility of re-signing Moses.

AFC Notes: Henry, Mayfield, Jets, Steelers

Initially floated last month, the prospect of Derrick Henry coming back for the playoffs is moving closer to reality. Henry returning for the Titans‘ first postseason game is the plan, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. Once thought to be out for the season, Henry has recovered well enough, per Rapoport, that the Titans would consider bringing him back for Week 18 — should the team need a win to reach the playoffs. Henry has been out since Week 8, when he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot. This would obviously be a tremendous development for the Titans, who have not been the same without the two-time reigning rushing champion. Henry’s 937 rushing yards still rank fifth in the NFL, despite the dominant back having missed the past six games. Henry underwent surgery Nov. 2.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although Baker Mayfield missed Monday’s game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the Browns quarterback has played through multiple injuries in the previous several weeks. The former No. 1 overall pick will, however, need offseason surgery and will be forced to wear a harness on his injured left shoulder the rest of this season, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Mayfield suffered a fractured shoulder bone in October. While some of Mayfield’s other injuries — of the knee and heel variety — have improved, the shoulder problem is unlikely to be in the rear-view mirror until after his 2022 surgery.
  • The Jets may be without their head coach in Week 16. Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Tight ends coach Ron Middleton would step in as acting head coach if Saleh remains sidelined on Sunday, when the Jets face the Jaguars.
  • Mekhi Becton has yet to resume practicing, with Saleh indicating earlier this week he had “no update” on his left tackle. Out with a dislocated kneecap he sustained in Week 1, Becton has yet to resume practicing. The Jets shutting down their left tackle would be wise here, Cimini writes. Two years remain on the 370-pound blocker’s contract, with a 2024 option included, but availability has become a concern for the 2020 first-rounder. Becton missed some time last season, and the Jets have previously levied discipline over his weight.
  • First-year Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has attracted interest from a high-profile college program. Oregon is pursuing the NFL assistant, ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg tweets. Promoted after two years as the Steelers’ assistant O-line coach, Klemm has only been an NFL assistant for three seasons. He worked as a college staffer previously, ending that run as a UCLA associate head coach. Oregon is assembling a new staff under recently hired HC Dan Lanning.

Latest On Jets’ Mekhi Becton

The outlook for one of the Jets’ key offensive pieces is not looking good. Second-year tackle Mekhi Becton is still not practicing weeks after knee surgery, per the New York Post’s Brian Costello (via Twitter). 

Becton suffered the knee injury during the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Panthers and was initially believed to be out four to six weeks. After a cleanup procedure meant to better the chances of Becton returning at some point this season, that timetable was extended by another two weeks.

[RELATED: Latest On Becton’s Timetable]

Almost three months removed from the procedure — and therefore three weeks overdue to be at least working toward a return — the 6-foot-7, 364-pound blocker is not in shape to resume practicing at this point, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Robert Saleh said Becton will “hopefully” return to practice at some point before the campaign is over.

With the Jets at 3-9 and in the basement of the AFC East again, however, there is likely not much need to rush the 2020 No. 11 overall pick back to action. The third tackle selected last year, Becton only missed two games as a rookie. The gargantuan lineman played well when on the field, but weight-related concerns have dogged the Louisville alum during his Jets tenure.

The Jets have relied on Morgan Moses and George Fant to man the tackle positions throughout the year, but Becton’s return at any point would be welcomed. He is under contract through 2023, and the Jets have a 2024 option season to exercise down the road.