New York Jets right tackle and 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton will likely miss the entire 2022 after injuring his right knee during training camp on Monday, head coach Robert Saleh confirmed Tuesday. Becton will get a second opinion, per Saleh, but the Jets coach didn't sound too confident it would reveal anything different.
Saleh initially expressed optimism about the injury, telling reporters on Monday that "everything seems fine." But sources to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport that Becton suffered an avulsion fracture of the kneecap.
Per the Jets, Becton sustained the injury during a team drill. He fell to the turf and clutched his knee before limping off the practice field to be evaluated. The injury is to the same knee that sidelined Becton for all but one game in 2021. He was spotted wearing a new brace on the knee last week during drills.
Becton dislocated his kneecap and injured his MCL in 2021's season opener against the Carolina Panthers. The injury required surgery and was initially expected to sideline him for a few weeks. It ended up costing him the entire season.
The Jets anticipated Becton to return this season, but moved him from left tackle to right tackle in favor of George Fant, who moved from the right to protecting quarterback Zach Wilson's blind side. Saleh told reporters in July that Fant is "more comfortable" at left tackle.
The injury is another setback for Becton, whom the Jets selected amid high expectations with the 11th pick of the 2020 draft out of Louisville. Becton played in 14 games including 13 starts at left tackle as a rookie protecting Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco's blind side. But he's played in just one game since thanks to his season-opening injury against the Panthers.
Jets replacement plan
The loss of Becton is a tough blow for a Jets team looking to develop an offense around Wilson, the second-year quarterback selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft. Becton's absence leaves a gaping hole on the Jets' offensive line. Right now, New York's backup right tackle options are veterans Chuma Edoga, Conor McDermott and 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell. They have a combined 18 starts over the course of eight NFL seasons between them.
The Jets have also been in discussions with five-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Duane Brown, who spent the past four-and-a-half seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Brown, who will turn 37 this season, attended the Jets' preseason scrimmage at MetLife Stadium on August 6 and Jets GM Joe Douglas confirmed this morning that "the wheels are in motion" for a potential deal.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler added that he's been told Brown and the Jets have "mutual interest" and Saleh said that the team is "working on" any potential deal with Brown. Saleh was also an assistant coach with the Houston Texans during three years of Brown's tenure there.