Saints middle linebacker Kwon Alexander in action during an NFL game...

Saints middle linebacker Kwon Alexander in action during an NFL game against the Panthers on Jan. 2 in New Orleans. Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK – Robert Saleh reached into his past again for a player to help his Jets’ defense.

Veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander is signing a one-year deal with the Jets, a league source said. The Jets needed linebacker depth and Alexander knows the system.

Alexander, 27, spent parts of two seasons playing for Saleh, his former defensive coordinator with the 49ers. Alexander appeared in 13 games with San Francisco in 2019 and 2020.

The Jets worked out Alexander in April and remained interested in adding him to their linebacker group.

C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams are returning starters. The rest of the linebacker corps features Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen- Marcell Harris and Del’Shawn Phillips.

Alexander is expected to compete for the third starting position in Saleh’s 4-3 scheme.

A fourth-round pick of Tampa in 2015, Alexander accumulated 380 tackles, seven sacks and six interceptions in four seasons with the Bucs. He had 145 tackles in 2016 and made the Pro Bowl the following season.

Alexander hasn’t made the same impact since leaving the Buccaneers, although injuries have contributed. In 32 games over four seasons with the 49ers and Saints, he’s totaled 141 tackles.  

Alexander joins cornerback D.J. Reed, defensive end Solomon Thomas and Harris as players who played for Saleh in San Francisco that the Jets signed this year.

Becton’s progress

Mekhi Becton is still working through some things in his return to football, but the Jets are encouraged with what they’ve seen.

Becton, who had knee surgery in September and spent the offseason training to get his weight down, appeared to be struggling during individual drills. He needed to take a knee on two occasions, but the 6-7 right tackle played all the first-team snaps during team drills.

Saleh said he didn’t notice Becton being limited, and that the heat probably contributed if he was.

“It’s been a year since he’s played,” Saleh said. “I know it was a little sticky today. He’s a big man. …He got all his work in. He got all his reps in and got all his individual in, got all the group in. He did the whole list of things that we had planned out for him. I thought he did a good job.”

Center Connor McGovern said Becton is starting to look like his old self. He expects Becton to be “a force” this season.

“You can see in his pass sets, he’s getting back to where he was,” McGovern said. “He’ll be a force to be reckoned with come Week 1.”

Fant limited

The Jets are taking it slowly with left tackle George Fant, who missed OTAs while rehabbing from knee surgery.

Fant, activated from the PUP list just before camp opened Wednesday, hasn’t taken part in team drills. Saleh said Fant has done the walk-throughs, installs and individual work, though.

Saleh dismissed the idea that Fant’s isn’t participating because of his contract situation. Fant wants a new deal and the Jets are interested in extending him.

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