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New York Jets Exercise Option for Versatile Former First-Round Lineman

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The New York Jets have made their decision ahead of the May 2 deadline.

General manager Joe Douglas revealed that the team plans to exercise the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.

“We’re going to pick that up,” said Douglas at a post draft press conference on April 27 in Florham Park. “I had the opportunity to have the conversation with him and let him know that we are indeed picking up that fifth-year option.”

That 2025 salary will reportedly land around $15.3 million for Vera-Tucker, who will turn 25 years old in June.

The Jets selected the USC product at No. 14 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and he proceeded to start 16 games as a rookie left guard. After the arrival of veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson ahead of the 2022 campaign, Vera-Tucker became a moving chess piece along the line. His versatility allowed him to start games at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle over his first three NFL seasons.

While versatility has been elite, Vera-Tucker’s availability has been spotty, and head coach Robert Saleh addressed that issue while speaking at the league meetings in late March.

“Just to let him focus on one position, not move him around. We do feel like that’s kind of contributed to his injuries the last couple of years,” said Saleh.

Vera-Tucker has totaled only 12 combined starts over the past two years, suffering season-ending injuries during October road games at Denver in 2022 and 2023.

With the Jets adding veteran tackle Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses prior to drafting Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, that “one position” projects to be right guard.

“Our goal is to try to do everything we can to keep him healthy. Our goal is to keep him in one position and as of now it’s at right guard,” said Saleh.

Vera-Tucker is still rehabbing from Achilles surgery, but projects to be ready in time for Week 1.

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