The NY Jets are expected to enter the summer with a competition of sorts for the starting left tackle job, but it seems pretty clear that one individual is the odds-on favorite to emerge as the starter. That player is Duane Brown.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked about Brown and the left tackle position this past week, and he, per ESPN's Rich Cimini, "all but handed [Brown] the job."
Saleh told reporters that Brown would be "hard to push out the door" in regard to the starting left tackle job this summer. Mekhi Becton is expected to "compete" with Brown, but it might not be a true competition.
That, of course, raises questions about where Becton will play in 2023. The former first-round pick has been very vocal about his desire to play left tackle, even going as far as to partially blame his injury last season on playing right tackle.
It should also be noted that the 37-year-old Brown has never played on the right side of the offensive line in his 15-year NFL career. Outside of a few snaps at left guard, Brown has exclusively been a left tackle.
Duane Brown seems likely to start at left tackle for the NY Jets
Brown opted to return to the Jets this offseason following an injury-riddled campaign with the team in 2022. While Brown still appeared in 12 games for the Jets, he played the entire season with a torn rotator cuff.
The five-time Pro Bowler underwent offseason surgery to repair the issue and was sidelined for spring workouts as a result. The Jets hope he will be ready for the start of training camp next month.
Given his age, the Jets will likely take it slow with Brown, which could open up an opportunity for Becton to make an impression at left tackle, assuming he himself is healthy.
Still, it seems pretty evident where the Jets stand on Brown and the left tackle situation. Brown has a cap hit of $11.28 million this season — the second-highest cap hit on the team. It's unlikely the Jets want to pay him that money to be their backup left tackle.
If Brown is healthy, he will very likely be the Jets' starting left tackle. What that means for right tackle is unclear. Maybe Becton relents and switches sides. Maybe the Jets roll with veteran Billy Turner. Maybe someone like Max Mitchell could step up and earn the job.
There are more questions than answers regarding the Jets' offensive tackle situation right now, but one thing does seem pretty clear. Duane Brown will likely be the Jets' Week 1 starting left tackle.