The NY Jets have opted to decline the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of offensive tackle Mekhi Becton in an unsurprising move. This means that Becton will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2023.
The option was due to cost the Jets $13.565 million in 2024, a hefty sum for a player who has appeared in just one game over the last two seasons. The Jets are encouraged by the progress Becton has made this offseason, but this was always a no-brainer.
Following a promising rookie season, Becton suffered a knee injury in Week 1 of his second NFL campaign. He returned from injury the following summer, only to sustain another knee injury before the season started.
Becton will enter the 2023 season in competition for a starting job, but the Jets understandably aren't ready to commit to him in 2024 just yet. This doesn't have to be a figurative death sentence for the former first-round pick, though.
Mekhi Becton could still carve out a long-term role in the NY Jets' offense
There have been numerous instances in recent years of teams declining fifth-year options of players, only to extend them the following year.
It happened with Denver Broncos' standout left tackle Garrett Bolles. The Minnesota Vikings signed center Garrett Bradbury to a three-year extension a year after declining his fifth-year option.
Most recently, the New York Giants handed quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year, $160 million less than one calendar year after declining his option. It's not unprecedented for this to happen.
Becton will enter the 2023 season with every opportunity to prove he's deserving of a contract extension as well. The former 11th overall pick is expected to compete for a starting job and, assuming he stays healthy, should be penciled in as a Week 1 starter.
Staying healthy is the key for Becton. His talent is evident, and the progress he's made this offseason can't be ignored, but unless Becton can stay healthy for a full season (or close to it), the Jets likely won't commit to him beyond this year.
This was an expected, albeit unfortunate, decision on the part of Joe Douglas and the Jets. It's up to Becton to prove that he's deserving of a new contract next offseason.
Let the comeback season begin.