NY Jets see Duane Brown as their starting LT in 2023 if he returns
NY Jets head coach Robert Saleh spoke glowingly of offensive tackle Duane Brown when speaking to the media on Thursday. Saleh praised Brown's toughness to play through a shoulder injury that "90 percent" of players wouldn't have in 2022.
He also insisted that it would be "awesome" if Brown returned to play for the Jets in 2023. The 37-year-old veteran is undecided on his NFL future and is pondering retirement this offseason.
However, if he is on the roster next season, the Jets reportedly have big plans for him. The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt reported on Friday that Brown would "likely start at left tackle" if he was back with the team in 2023.
Brown's decision could have significant ramifications on the approach the Jets take this offseason, especially if the plan is, in fact, for him to start at left tackle.
The NY Jets have big plans for Duane Brown in 2023
The Jets signed Brown to a two-year, $22 million contract last August, shortly following Mekhi Becton's season-ending injury. Brown would soon after suffer a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve to start the year.
But rather than choose to sit out, rehab his injury, and collect his guaranteed money, Brown decided to play through significant pain for the entirety of the 2022 season. He went on to start 12 games, and while he struggled as a run blocker, Brown was above-average in pass protection, per Pro Football Focus.
Brown is set to carry an $11.28 million cap hit into 2023, and although the Jets could save some money by releasing him, that doesn't appear to be the plan. They want Brown on the roster in 2023.
This means, as Rosenblatt notes, that the expectation is that Becton and 2022 fourth-round pick Max Mitchell will compete at right tackle next summer. It also means that the Jets might not use a first-round pick on a tackle as many have expected.
While the Jets should absolutely bolster their tackle depth this offseason, perhaps in the form of a Day 2 pick, it seems unlikely that the Jets would use the No. 13 pick in the draft on a player who might very well redshirt in his first season.
The current regime isn't drafting for 2024 when they're not even guaranteed jobs then. They want players who can contribute immediately, and if the plan is for Brown to start at left tackle, it doesn't make much sense for them to target a tackle in the first round.
This doesn't necessarily mean that Brown is locked into a starting job, but the Jets clearly believe he will factor into their 2023 plans. It would make much more sense to draft a tackle on Day 2 with the hope that they can provide depth, develop in 2023, and start in 2024.
Duane Brown's decision will have serious implications for the Jets' offensive line plans. The team clearly wants him back next season.