Becton later deleted the tweet, but Saleh spoke to reporters again on Saturday and was asked for his response to the O-lineman’s feeling about where he should play.
“Go earn the left tackle,” he said. “Competition.”
The gargantuan 6-foot-7 tackle was drafted 11th overall in 2020 and started 13 contests his rookie year, but knee injuries in both 2021 and 2022 have limited him to just one game since, and the Jets recently declined his fifth-year option.
He’s now staring at a contract year with just 48 snaps played in the past two seasons. In order to earn the role of Aaron Rodgers’ blindside protector over Duane Brown, his replacement after fracturing his kneecap in training camp, Becton will have to prove himself all over again during the upcoming preseason.
At right tackle, 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell and free-agent addition Billy Turner will be in the mix with the 24-year-old Becton.
Despite the more eye-catching development following Saleh’s comments Friday, the coach was also complimentary of the O-lineman when asked if declining his fifth-year option might provide added motivation heading into Year 4.
“He looks good,” Saleh said. “He looks fantastic, really. But I don’t know. That’s probably more of a question for him. I don’t get into the whole business part of it. Just find a way to get better every day. He’s attacking this offseason the right way, and I’m excited for him.”
Becton has made it clear he is attacking his comeback with the goal of reassuming his left tackle duties.
He’ll have to return to form and prove he can remain healthy to do so.
Meanwhile, Saleh will be happy to see what results the competition breeds.