NEW YORK — The New York Jets signed rookie guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft in April, to a four-year, $15.9 million contract Tuesday.
Vera-Tucker’s deal includes a signing bonus of $8.9 million, according to the NFL’s rookie wage scale, and the Jets have a fifth-year option.
The signing leaves two of the Jets’ drafted players unsigned: first-round quarterback Zach Wilson and second-round wide receiver Elijah Moore. New York’s rookies reported to the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, on Tuesday ahead of the opening of training camp next week.
Vera-Tucker is expected to be the Jets’ starting left guard this season next to left tackle Mekhi Becton, New York’s first-round selection last year. The former USC star played all along the offensive line for the Trojans during his college career, including at left guard, left tackle and right tackle.
That versatility put Vera-Tucker high on the Jets’ draft board, and general manager Joe Douglas jumped at the opportunity to trade up from No. 23 to get an offensive lineman who should help protect the No. 2 overall pick in Wilson.
“Every box he’s been able to check, he’s done so far,” offensive line coach John Benton said last month during minicamp. “He really committed himself to learning the scheme. Athletically, he’s everything we thought he would be.”
Vera-Tucker could be one of three new starters on a revamped offensive line, with possibly only Becton and center Connor McGovern returning to the spots in which they started last season. Alex Lewis, last year’s starter at left guard, is expected to compete with incumbent Greg Van Roten at right guard along with Cameron Clark, Dan Feeney and Conor McDermott. The Jets signed former Washington right tackle Morgan Moses last month, likely pushing George Fant, last year’s starter, into a swing role.
“He seems to fit right in with the guys who have played quite a bit,” Benton said of Vera-Tucker. “He’ll definitely be in the running (for a starting spot) provided he passes the physical tests once we are able to put pads on and whatnot. But all indications are very good.”