The Jets have signed veteran offensive tackle Duane Brown as expected, according to ESPN. They were kicking the tires on the five-time Pro Bowler before Mekhi Becton fractured his kneecap, so it makes sense to follow through now that Becton is likely done for the season.
Some thoughts …
Further details are needed on the specifics of the deal. Giving Brown two years is likely a salary cap trick. You figure the bulk of the guaranteed money will be through a signing bonus. An extra year allows general manager Joe Douglas to spread the hit out. Maybe there is some guaranteed salary in 2023 too, and Douglas went that route to sweeten the pot. But it’s unlikely the Jets are in a position where they can’t cut Brown after this season.
Then again, it could be a sign the Jets are thinking about 2023. It’s hard to imagine Brown is coming here to replace Becton at right tackle. He’s been a left tackle his entire career. And he has the leverage, not the Jets. That means George Fant is likely being bounced back to the right side. Which is a tough blow for him in a contract year.
If Fant walks in the spring — which was probably more likely than not to begin with — the Jets now in theory have a left tackle option (Brown) that isn’t Becton. Which is important. Becton will have basically missed two straight seasons and is coming off a serious injury. It will be a hard road to get him back on the field at right tackle, much less trying to get him to protect Zach Wilson’s blindside right off the bat.
Cautious optimism. Even though the signing makes sense, it’s far from a sure thing. Brown is going to be 37 at the end of August. And he was a free agent until a few minutes ago. Health and production are two very big asks for a veteran. These types of deals tend to not work more often than not, and there is no guarantee the Jets are getting Brown anywhere near his peak. But they really didn’t have much of a choice here. Their depth was lacking and they couldn’t let Becton’s injury derail things up front. Douglas had to roll the dice.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]