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Could Former First-Round Free Agent Replace Injured All-Pro?

Saints offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk is not recovering from his knee injury, and free agent Mekhi Becton could be a quick fix at the position
Mekhi Becton Free Agent

The New Orleans Saints are in hot water. After missing the playoffs every year since the end of the Drew Brees Era, pressure is on for head coach Dennis Allen and quarterback Derek Carr to finally end that drought in 2024. Unfortunately, they might not have former All-Pro tackle Ryan Ramczyk in the upcoming season, as the right tackle is struggling to recover from a season-ending knee injury. With left tackle also a major question mark, the team may have no choice but to sign a cheap free agent tackle like Mekhi Becton as a stopgap replacement.

Back in December, Ryan Ramcyzk told reporters that cartilage in his knee had deteriorated. This surgery was supposed to alleviate this issue, but head coach Dennis Allen gave a disappointing update during the NFL annual league meeting.

“He just isn’t quite where I was probably hoping he’d be, and really quite frankly, where he was hoping he’d be. But … there’s a long time before we kick the ball off, so I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions right now, but we’ll see how it goes over the next three, four, five, six months, whatever that is, before we get to the beginning of the season.”

Dennis Allen sounds somewhat optimistic, but that might just be a show for the cameras. At the end of the day, deteriorated cartilage is a major issue, and the team needs to prepare for the worst. With all the reliable tackles already signed, the Saints should swing for the fences and sign Mekhi Becton as a free agent.

Could Mekhi Becton Replace Ryan Ramczyk As A Free Agent?

A first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, there was a time when nobody thought the New York Jets would ever let Mekhi Becton become a free agent. The rookie made an immediate impact, earning an above-average 74.4 PFF grade during his first year in the league. Seeing as tackles have one of the hardest transitions from college to the pros, this season made it appear as though he was destined for greatness.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Injuries forced Becton to miss all but one game over the next two seasons. While he stayed healthy during the final year of his contract, Mekhi Becton didn’t set the world on fire before becoming a free agent. According to Pro Football Focus, the Louisville product finished the season as the 66th-best tackle out of 81 players.

There is a chance Mekhi Becton just needed a year to knock off the rust, and he could be a great low-cost signing as a free agent. With Ramcyzk’s health in question, the Saints might have no choice but to gamble on that outcome. Derek Carr does not handle pressure well, and with major question marks at both tackle positions, this could be a long year for New Orleans. Becton has experience at both tackle positions and can start opposite whoever the Saints inevitably draft in the first round.

Mekhi Becton’s stock might be low, but the free agent should have some interested suitors. The fact of the matter is that there are not enough good tackles to go around, and these teams could take a low-risk, high-reward dart throw on the former first-round pick.

Possible Other Teams

New England Patriots

The Patriots will have a rookie quarterback next year, but they haven’t done much to make life easy for their potential franchise quarterback. With an underwhelming group of pass-catching talent, New England’s offensive line will need to pick up the slack in 2024. Unfortunately, they don’t have a left tackle after Trent Brown departed in free agency. Mekhi Becton is perhaps the best free agent tackle left on the market, and if he recaptures his old form, then New England should have a decent offensive line for their young passer.

Kansas City Chiefs

Four of Kansas City’s five offensive line spots are set in stone. The left tackle position, however, is a massive question mark. The years appear to have caught up with Donovan Smith, as the veteran had a rough season with the Chiefs. Rather going back to that underwhelming well, Kansas City could decide to shoot for the moon with Mekhi Becton as a free agent. Becton would probably love the opportunity to rebuild his value with a team going for the first three-peat in NFL history.

Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman want to build a physical football team that wins through superior blocking. Unfortunately, they don’t have the cap space to make that dream a reality. After missing out on all the sure things, they might need to settle for Mekhi Becton as a free agent. While Becton prefers playing left tackle, he’ll have to switch to the right side and start opposite Rashawn Slater.

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans fixed most of their issues in free agency, but they still need to find a reliable left tackle. While they’ll probably draft someone like Joe Alt, they need an experienced veteran who can start in case the rookie isn’t ready. Mekhi Becton is a perfect fit for this job, as the free agent can start in a pinch but shouldn’t inhibit a young player’s development.

Main Photo: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports


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