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Jets GM Joe Douglas: Alijah Vera-Tucker Will Stay at One Position in 2024 Season

Green & White Plan to Utilize ‘Different’ Avenues to Fill Vacancies Along the Offensive Line

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas speaks during a press conference during the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Kara Durrette/NFL)

As the Jets plan to fill at least three starting positions on the offensive line, one of those spots could be Jets versatile OL Alijah Vera-Tucker. Vera-Tucker has made 5 starts at right guard, 6 at right tackle and 1 at left tackle over the last two seasons for the Jets. Heading into 2024, the Jets' plan is to buck that trend.

In his yearly visit to the NFL Scouting Combine, Jets GM Joe Douglas addressed the media Wednesday and reaffirmed head coach Robert Saleh's stance that Vera-Tucker will only play one position this season.

"We don't have any decision on exactly where he's going to line up," Douglas said. "But AVT's ability to play four different spots, and play four different spots well, gives us a lot of flexibility moving forward on our roster building and our O-line building. The one thing we're going to do this year, we're not going to move Alijah Vera-Tucker around. We're going to have a spot for him and leave him there for the season.

"We are trying to figure out how we can get out best five out there and then where does AVT fit into that puzzle? We know that he can play four of those spots at a high level. The one thing we don't want moving forward is for him to move around. We will find what is the best spot for him and he will stay there."

Vera-Tucker has missed 22 games the last two years after consecutive season-ending injuries. In 2022, he tore his triceps against the Broncos during a 16-9 win in Week 7. Last October, while playing again against Denver at Mile High, he ruptured Achilles tendon in the team's 31-21 victory.

"AVT is in a great place," Douglas said. "His rehab is going outstanding. He's in a great place. I think we I think we're in a really good situation, particularly because of the flexibility that AVT provides us."

Around Vera-Tucker, Douglas plans to spend a portion of the offseason trying to fill other starting voids left behind by free agents. It was reported Monday night that the team plans to release LG Laken Tomlinson, making seven of the 14 offensive linemen who took snaps for the Jets in the 2023 season free agents, including starting T Mekhi Becton, who took the third-most snaps on the team and second-most among the OL.

"There were a number of tough conversations," Douglas said about releasing Tomlinson. "But ultimately, we felt that was the best decision we needed to make this offseason financially. We aren't going to shut the door on Laken or any other free agent, but it was just the right time to make that decision and get our ducks in a row for free agency."

With promising young C Joe Tippmann, who made 14 starts as a rookie (4 at guard, 10 at center), the Jets will likely have three starting positions to fill. Douglas said he feels good about the soon-to-be available free agents and draft prospects that could help fill in the gaps.

"It's a lot of moving pieces, but at the same time, we just had some unbelievable meetings with our coaching staff, free agent meetings," Douglas said. "There are three different avenues that we can do this, right? Trade, free agency and draft. Going through where we are, the flexibility, going through the meetings that we just went through, the flexibility of AVT, I feel like there's some guys that could come in and be the right type of fit for us in terms of intelligence, toughness, reliability. There's some good candidates out there that can come in and help us."

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