FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets declined the fifth-year option for offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, sources said — a long-anticipated move that makes the 2020 first-round pick a free agent after the 2023 season.
The Jets had until Tuesday to make the decision. The option would’ve guaranteed Becton a salary of $13.5 million in 2024, but his injury history made it prohibitive.
Becton, picked 11th overall out of Louisville, has played only one game since 2020. He injured his right knee in the 2021 opener, requiring season-ending surgery. He hurt the same knee early in training camp last summer, resulting in another surgery that ended his season.
He also has battled a weight issue. Drafted at 363 pounds, the 6-foot-7 Becton reached about 400 pounds during his inactivity.
Becton changed his approach this offseason, moving to New Jersey full time and hiring a different trainer. His weight is down to 342, a source said. He continues to rehab his knee, hoping to return for the start of training camp.
“He’s on track, he’s looking great, so excited to have him in great spirits and he’s looking tremendous,” said Joe Douglas, who chose Becton with his first draft pick as the Jets’ general manager.
After not drafting a tackle until the fourth round (Pitt’s Carter Warren), the Jets could need Becton to start. He could battle newly signed Billy Turner and Max Mitchell for the right tackle job or, possibly, be moved back to his natural left tackle position to compete with Duane Brown.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini contributed to this report.