Mekhi Becton has battled significant injury issues through his first three years with the NY Jets, but the hope is that a newly-motivated Becton could return to his rookie form and prove to be the franchise cornerstone the organization expected him to be when they drafted him 11th overall.
He's not going to be handed anything, though. More specifically, he's not going to be handed the starting left tackle job that he covets. In fact, he's not even the favorite to emerge as the Jets' Week 1 left tackle.
That's something that clearly bothers Becton, and he made that very clear in a tell-all interview with Newsday's Bob Glauber this weekend. Becton made it apparent that he's a left tackle — that's the position he expects to play.
Becton went as far as to blame the Jets' coaching staff for "forcing" him to play right tackle last season, something that he believes contributed to the knee injury he sustained in the summer.
"It made no sense to put me at right tackle. I hurt my right knee. That’s going to be the knee I put the most pressure on [while backpedaling in pass protection]. I explained it [to the coaches], but no one cared."- Mekhi Becton
Mekhi Becton believes the NY Jets are to blame for his injury in 2022
Becton later told Glauber that he complained numerous times to the Jets' coaching staff that he did not feel comfortable playing right tackle, largely due to his surgically-repaired knee. The coaches ignored his concerns and, by Becton's own admission, "forced" him to play right tackle.
In a video captured prior to his injury, Becton was seen limping around at practice just hours before he suffered a broken kneecap that landed him on the season-ending injured reserve. The former first-round pick clearly knew that something wasn't right with his body.
Of course, this is one side of the story. It's impossible to accurately gauge who is in the right and who is in the wrong — nor is it really even a necessity, if we're being honest.
Becton is reportedly down to 342 pounds this offseason after weighing over 400 pounds at a point last year. That decreased weight and improved conditioning should certainly help as he looks to put together a successful and healthy 2023 campaign.
The question now becomes, would Becton play right tackle? By all accounts, the Jets expect to start Duane Brown at left tackle this season. There might be a competition in camp, but Brown is the odds-on favorite.
If Becton is unable to start at left tackle, would he be open to playing right tackle again? If not, his future with the Jets would be as murky as ever, and the team would be forced to lean on the likes of Max Mitchell and Billy Turner.
It's a tricky situation to manage, and the Jets' coaching staff likely isn't too pleased with Becton's decision to air his grievances in such a public manner, but it's reality now.
Mekhi Becton has to prove to the Jets — and potentially other teams — that he can stay healthy and dominate this season. He's motivated and in the best shape of his career. Now, it's about proving what he could do on the field.