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Sour Grapes? Robert Saleh Claims Steelers Trade-Up Made ‘No Difference’ to Jets



Steelers jets Robert Saleh

The New York Jets didn’t want offensive tackle Broderick Jones in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. No seriously. Just ask them.

Someone did ask the Jets, or at least head coach Robert Saleh, about whether the Jets’ much-reported interested in taking a tackle to help protect 39-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers was factual.

Saleh claims it was not.

Asked during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show about whether the Jets would have preferred to end up with Jones instead of taking defensive end Will McDonald IV from Iowa State.

The Jets originally had pick No. 13 in the first round, but swapped it for No. 15 with the Green Bay Packers in the Aaron Rodgers trade. That gave the Steelers an opening to make a move with the New England Patriots at No. 14 to get ahead of the Jets and land the last big-time left tackle on the board.

There was plenty of talk that Bill Belichick made the move with the Steelers at a discount just to keep Jones from getting to the Jets. Some NFL GMs anonymously griped about the low price the Steelers paid to move up to get Jones.

But Saleh says those grapes, made famous by Aesop, were probably sour anyway.

“The difference between 13 and 15, and the way everything shook out, made no difference to us,” Saleh said.

McDonald was considered by many draft analysts to be a reach for the Jets even at pick No. 15, so that seems unlikely. It was also not a position of need for New York, something Saleh acknowledged.

The Jets do have options at tackle, but all have question marks. Duane Brown, now 37 years old is in pencil as the starting left tackle. Mekhi Becton, drafted to be a star tackle in the first round in 2020, has played just 48 snaps since the start of the 2021 season after dealing with a pair of major knee injuries. New York declined his fifth-year option for 2024. Max Mitchell, the team’s 2022 fourth-round pick, started five games at right tackle as a rookie.

After missing on Jones in the first round, the Jets waited until the fourth to get a tackle, landing Carter Warren, who protected Kenny Pickett’s blind side at Pitt.