Jets coach Robert Saleh’s message to Mekhi Becton: ‘Go win left tackle’

On Friday afternoon, Jets coach Robert Saleh declared an open competition at both tackle positions and center.

A day later, one of Saleh’s players expressed his preference for where he would like to play in 2023.

In a since-deleted tweet on Saturday, Becton said: “Me. LEFT ARM. APPROACH!!!”

Becton’s message was clearly a response to Saleh’s response during Friday’s news conference, when the coach said the Jets would play their five best offensive players.

When asked about Becton’s tweet, Saleh had his own message for the fourth-year game.

“Go and win the left plate,” Saleh said. “Competition.”

jets declined Becton’s fifth-year option on Tuesday, which would have been worth $13.5 million. The former first-round pick will be heading into the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him $5.8 million.

After the last two years, Becton is unable to make claims. After the 2020 season, in which Becton started 13 games at left tackle, he spent more time rehabbing from injuries than on the field.

In 2021, Becton he suffered an injury to his right knee in the season opener against the Panthers. He was originally slated to miss just four to five weeks, but missed the rest of that season after undergoing surgery.

Becton returned in time for the 2022 training camp, but he reportedly weighed close to 400 pounds. Two weeks in camp, Becton injured his right knee again and missed the entire year before even playing a preseason.

Becton is now apparently 100 percent as he has reportedly shed over 50 pounds since last season. And he hopes to regain his starting left tackle position, but he will have some competition.

After Becton’s injury, the Jets signed the veteran left tackle Duane Brown to a two-year, $22 million contract. Brown started 12 games for the Jets but is coming off offseason shoulder surgery after sitting out the entire 2022 season with the injury.

The Jets also selected the former Pitt standout Carter Warren in the fourth round from last weekend’s draft. Warren not only has experience at left tackle, but also at right guard and right tackle.

Because of that, Becton could move to right tackle, something he’s obviously not thrilled about, especially as he heads into the final year of his contract. Left tackles are usually paid more than right tackles on the open market. So it’s no wonder why Becton preferred to play left tackle.

Becton impressed Saleh and the coaches in the first part of the Jets’ offseason program. However, it remains to be seen where he will play this season and if he will finally be able to play a full season.

“The expectations for him are no different than anyone else,” Saleh said. “It’s redundant, I feel like I tell you all the time, but you wake up and find a way to improve and that’s who you are every day.

“That is the expectation. If it leads to starting, if it leads to a left tackle position, it doesn’t matter. If you go to bed happy with the way you approach each day and the way you attack it, chances are, it will work in your favor.

“If not, at least you go to bed knowing you did your best.”


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