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First-Round Tackle Will Not Re-Sign With Current Team, Will Test Open Market

Mekhi Becton Free Agency

New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton is one of the biggest high-risk, high-reward players entering free agency. Originally selected with the 11th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Louisville product looked like he had the making of a franchise tackle as a rookie. During his first season, Becton started 13 games and finished with a 74.4 PFF grade, the 31st-best mark out of 79 eligible players.

Unfortunately, a series of injuries limited him to just one game over the next two seasons. Mekhi Becton returned to the field for the final season of his rookie contract, but he didn’t play too well heading into free agency. According to Pro Football Focus, Becton’s 53.2 grade was the 66th-best out of 81 tackles.

Now, Mekhi Becton is set to hit free agency, and the New York Jets are not going to re-sign him. Despite his strong rookie season, the Jets feel it’s best to part ways with the veteran, which means that some teams will have a chance to buy low on the former first-round pick.

Mekhi Becton Will Test Free Agency, Won’t Re-Sign With Jets

The Jets desperately need tackles, and the fact that they’re letting Mekhi Becton go into free agency is a bit of a red flag. However, despite this, there is still reason to believe he can turn things around.

There is a reason Becton was a top-15 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and his strong rookie season shows that his abilities can translate to the highest level. After essentially missing two straight years of football, Becton could have been rusty during his final season. Seeing as he’s entering his age-25 season, it stands to reason that the tackle could improve with more reps.

Maybe injuries have taken their toll and the offensive lineman will never be able to recapture his rookie form. However, there are not enough good offensive tackles to go around, so Mekhi Becton will get some interest in free agency.

Best Team Fits

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have been looking for a long-term answer at tackle for years now. With Jonah Williams set to hit free agency and probably price his way out of Cincinnati, the Bengals could pivot to Mekhi Becton. Cincinnati has a lot of cap space at the moment, but it’s going to go away when Joe Burrow’s cap number explodes and Ja’Marr Chase gets his extension. They probably can’t afford a top-dollar free agent, so they might as well roll the dice on moving Becton over to the right side of the line.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have the best interior offensive line in football, but their tackle situation needs some work. Jawaan Taylor isn’t going anywhere thanks to his massive contract, but Donovan Smith probably won’t be coming back. With most of their financial resources tied up in Chris Jones, L’Jarius Sneed, and a new wide receiver, the Chiefs might need to go bargain shopping for someone like Mekhi Becton in free agency.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints are slowly but surely restructuring their way to salary cap compliance, once again refusing to rebuild and trying to win with their current core. If they’re going to make the playoffs, they’ll need to get better play out of their offensive tackles. Trevor Penning has not played up to his draft stock, and Mekhi Becton might be the best they’re able to afford in free agency.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have plenty of cap space, but they might not be able to throw money at every single position that needs help. New England needs two starting tackles, two starting tight ends, and two more starting wide receivers before they have anything resembling an NFL-caliber offense, and they’ll probably invest in a veteran quarterback as well.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns only have $2.4 million in available cap space, so they’ll need to find a cheap starter like Mekhi Becton in free agency to help their offensive line. Entering 2023 with what was believed to be one of the best lines in football, things quickly went south when Jedrick Wills regressed and Jack Conklin tore his ACL. Becton could be a cost-effective starter with decent upside should the tackle play remain subpar.

Main Photo: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports


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