The New York Jets have to pay defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and everybody knows it. Entering his fifth season and coming off of a first-team All-Pro nod after notching 12 sacks from the defensive tackle position, Williams is not going to play another snap until he gets paid a king’s ransom and I can guarantee that the Jets aren’t going to trade him.
However, the Jets may need to trade one or two players in order to pay Williams and it could be the right time for the Los Angeles Rams to add someone to their roster who might have some upside and they’ll have an instant connection with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Someone like rejuvenated offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
First, something has to give with Quinnen Willliams.
For a team that has made so many bad first round decisions, they can’t lose one of their few great top-10 picks right when he starts to become elite and not so close after acquiring Aaron Rodgers in a bid to win the Super Bowl; you don’t trade for a quarterback to get you over the top, and then immediately sink down again by trading your best defensive player.
Or maybe the Jets do and that’s why they’re the Jets, I don’t know.
But because New York is between a rock and a hard place with Williams, who is preparing to holdout until he gets a new contract, the Jets do have to make some tough decisions. The roster is fairly stacked and that also means that they’re having a hard time paying everybody what they want over the next two seasons. Further complicating matters is the fact that Rodgers has a $107 million cap hit in 2024 that the team is trying to move around so that they...you know, don’t pay a single player $107 million in one year.
: #Jets star DT Quinnen Williams bio now reads:— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 15, 2023
"Defensive Tackle for ………"
With his last tweet is a RT of the contract the #Giants gave Dexter Lawrence - $90 million with $60 million guaranteed.
Williams is clearly sending the Jets a message as they're working… pic.twitter.com/cHVY4npXxW
Looking over the Jets 2023 and 2024 salary cap situation at OvertheCap.com, the team wants to hold onto Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley, edge rusher Carl Lawson, and so far they have refused to budge on potential savings from left tackle Duane Brown, receiver Corey Davis, and safety Jordan Whitehead. All of those veterans could still be in danger, but New York is claiming that they’re safe.
The team would save over $10 million by cutting Davis, who has only gained 1,028 yards in two seasons with the Jets and missed 12 games, but they’ve claimed they want to keep him in a room that also has Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Mecole Hardman, and Denzel Mims.
The option to restructure certain players like Mosley or Laken Tomlinson become complicated when you look ahead to 2024 because the Jets are projected to be about $40 million over the cap in two years. First, they need to save money this season to move some of Rodgers’ salary out of next season, and throughout all of that accounting their star defensive tackle is demanding a raise.
One of the only ways for the Jets to potentially save money without cutting a starter could be to trade a disappointing former first round pick. It so happens that they have a few of those, and they played for Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur for two years, and L.A. is probably open for business if they can add young talent who won’t cost them valuable draft picks to acquire.
We’ve addressed the possibility of Zach Wilson already and the Jets would save $3.8 million in 2023 and $5.4 million in 2024 if they moved Wilson. However, after drafting Stetson Bennett and signing Brett Rypien—neither of whom will probably turn into starters but both of whom could make the roster as Matthew Stafford insurance—it may not make sense to crowd L.A.’s QB room with players who don’t seem like they’re in a position to start right away.
Plus, the Jets seem likely to keep Wilson to see whether or not a year behind Rodgers and playing for a new offensive coordinator will allow him to reset and become a better version of himself.
But there is another opportunity, one who could actually compete for the Rams in the near future, and who has already reinvented himself: Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
Having reportedly lost 58 lbs in the offseason, Becton seems motivated to do something drastic before his NFL career slips away. The 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Becton started 13 games at left tackle as a rookie, but a pair of knee injuries have caused him to miss all but one game over the past two years. The Jets moved him to right tackle in 2022, a move that apparently upset him (left tackles still make much more money), and he seems ready for a fresh start.
The Jets would save $3.1 million by trading Becton and if he doesn’t project to be their starting left tackle, that’s exactly what they should do; New York declined his fifth-year option, so Becton will be a free agent in 2024.
If the Jets start Duane Brown at left tackle, Becton may refuse to play for New York again because he will likely feel like he needs to showcase his abilities before he becomes a free agent next offseason. The Jets are holding a competition between Brown, Becton, 2022 fourth round pick Max Mitchell, free agent Billy Turner, and fourth round rookie Carter Warren to win two offensive tackle spots, with head coach Robert Saleh telling Becton to “go earn it” if he wants left tackle.
Without any leverage and in need of cap space of any amount, the Jets will be forced to deal Becton for whatever they can get and that might mean a low sixth or seventh round pick value to a team like the L.A. Rams.
It’s also true that the Rams don’t know who or what they’d be getting in trading for Becton, but now is the time to take that low-risk, high-reward shot in the dark, similar to acquiring Austin Corbett after one disappointing season with the Cleveland Browns.
AWESOME TO SEE: New York #Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton is down to about 350 pounds, a rather stunning transformation from the 400+ pounds he weighed last year.— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) April 2, 2023
The 2020 first-round pick is determined to right his career as he attempts to rebound from his second knee surgery,… pic.twitter.com/lY2Xngn3P7
The Rams set a modern day NFL record for offensive line combinations in 2022 and have room to add insurance. Of course, they would need to be in a position to start Becton at left tackle and that’s completely fine. Though Joe Noteboom remains in the building and has a $6.5 million cap hit, he’s done nothing to earn the left tackle position and is a constant injury concern himself. Becton could take over left tackle, Noteboom could move back to left guard, Steve Avila could start at center or right guard.
If Becton plays well, give him a new contract and cut Noteboom in 2024. If Becton doesn’t play well, keep Noteboom and put him back at left tackle, or start A.J. Jackson.
The Jets could use a player like Becton if he’s good, but they can’t put him on Rodgers’ blindside if there’s any doubt about his playing ability right now. That’s a risk for the Rams too, but at this point, L.A. is in a position to start taking some risks. The upside is there for Becton to be the “first round pick” that they didn’t have in the draft this year. Or the year before. Or the year before. Or the year b—