The Jets have had a big absence during the first week of their voluntary offseason program.
Tackle Mekhi Becton chose to stay in Dallas rather than joining the team in Florham Park this week. The offseason program began Monday.
“These are voluntary,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “Just in terms of Mekhi, we’ve had great dialogue and discussion back and forth with his medical team back in Dallas. We’re on top of everything with him right now. Again, these are voluntary sessions.”
A source said Becton’s girlfriend is expecting a baby soon, and he wants to remain in Dallas with her until the child is born.
It is a big season for Becton, who missed all but one game last year. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1 against the Panthers that required surgery. He was expected to return but ended up missing the rest of the season.
The Jets have not guaranteed he will be back at left tackle this season, the position where he started his first two years. He will have to compete with George Fant, who did a good job filling in for Becton last year, for the left tackle spot and may end up playing right tackle instead.
The Jets added safety/linebacker Marcell Harris on Thursday, per NFL Network.
The 27-year-old spent the last four seasons in San Francisco and will be reunited with Robert Saleh in New York.
A sixth-round pick out of Florida in 2018, Harris began his career as a safety before transitioning to linebacker last season. A rotational player and special teams contributor, he’s recorded 155 career tackles, nine passes defended, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception in 52 career games.
The Jets may face an interesting decision with the fourth overall pick. The best offensive lineman in this class, N.C. State’s Ickey Ekwonu, could be available. But do the Jets take an offensive lineman for the third straight year in the first round? Especially when there would be no obvious starting position open on the line?
Douglas was asked about taking the “best player available” versus factoring in need.
“I think you get into trouble if you’re breaking it up by position of need,” Douglas said. “I think you have to take best player available. Ozzie [Newsome] used to always have a saying, ‘a luxury today could be a necessity tomorrow.’ If you get away from your process, if you get away from your board I think that’s when you can get into a real jam.”
This is Douglas’ third offseason as GM, but his first when he was able to have prospects visit the training center after COVID-19 made those meetings virtual in 2020 and ’21.
“This has been a great offseason,” Douglas said. “This is really our first offseason since we’ve both been here where we’ve been able to actually bring in players to the building prior to the draft and spend time with them and go through the pre-draft process with the players. It’s been a great experience just sitting down with these guys on [top] 30 visits, just spending as much time with these guys face-to-face as possible, including the Senior Bowl.”