Jets GM Joe Douglas: If opportunity and price are right, 'we're going to strike'
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Joe Douglas may have taken a big swing and missed out on trading for Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill, but that doesn’t mean the Jets general manager won’t keep taking his cuts.
Douglas said he’d pounce on a deal for a marquee player if the opportunity presents itself in the days and weeks ahead, a stance in keeping with his contention that the Jets need to be positioned for a playoff run for the first time in more than a decade.
"Absolutely, we need to be playing meaningful games in December,” Douglas told reporters Tuesday at the NFL’s spring meetings.
Toward that end, Douglas said he will stop at nothing to continue improving his roster, even after a significant investment in free agents that landed tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, safety Jordan Whitehead and cornerback D.J. Reed. That means if another receiver becomes available on the trade market — Seattle’s DK Metcalf is rumored to be available at the right price — then Douglas will make a move.
“We feel good about this receiving corps we have,” Douglas said, noting that returning players Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios comprise a solid nucleus. “We have the opportunity to keep adding to it. If the opportunity’s right, the price is right, we’re going to strike.”
It’s all part of an aggressive makeover that has been three years in the making for the Jets’ GM. And even if owner Woody Johnson hasn’t delivered a playoffs-or-else edict to either Douglas or second-year coach Robert Saleh, Douglas sounds close to putting one out there himself.
The Jets enter the draft in good position with four picks in the first two rounds, including the fourth and 10th overall selections. There’s a good mix of top prospects that sync up with the Jets’ needs, including receiver, edge rusher and the secondary, and Douglas said hitting on the right players will go a long way toward putting this team in contention in a highly competitive AFC East.
“There’s pressure every offseason, but obviously this year having four picks in the top 38, [if] we do this the right way, it could really be special,” he said.
And don’t discount the possibility of Douglas making additional moves with all that draft capital, either moving up to take a player he covets, or moving back to acquire more picks.
“If it’s the right opportunity, we’ll consider any package,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to talk about a package that makes sense for us, gives us the ability to maintain our flexibility.”
The draft also includes top offensive tackles Evan Neal of Alabama and Ickey Ekwonu of North Carolina State. But Douglas suggested Tuesday that he feels good about his depth at the position, especially with Mekhi Becton making good progress recovering from a knee injury.
“Yes, we are operating like Mekhi is going to be one of our two tackles,” said Douglas, who is open to the idea of Becton playing right tackle despite starting his career on the left side. “That’s our expectation that he’s going to come back ready to roll. I know he’s fired up to get back on the field and compete.”
George Fant, signed two years ago as a free agent from Seattle, did an excellent job at left tackle last year and may project as the starter there in 2022.
The idea is to give second-year quarterback Zach Wilson every opportunity to be surrounded by better talent — on both sides of the ball — so the Jets can take a significant step forward. That’s why Douglas was so relentless in his pursuit of Hill, despite the fact he was unwilling to part with either of his first-round picks.
“In a circumstance that was this unique, this type of player, we felt it was a good time to be aggressive,” Douglas said. “It ultimately didn’t work out, but we feel good about our intent, and we’re going to be in a lot of conversations moving forward.”
Douglas will only go so far, though.
“We want to be aggressive,” he said, “but we don’t want to be reckless. There were some players we were in on in free agency, and we were right there in the end and just couldn’t get it done. There was a number we felt was bordering reckless, so we had to stand down."
Jets boot K Ammendola. The Jets released kicker Matt Ammendola, a move that was expected after the Jets signed veteran kickers Greg Zuerlein and Eddy Pineiro. The two are expected to compete for the kicking job in camp. Ammendola was the Jets' kicker for the first 11 games last season. He made 13 of 19 field goals before being released and replaced by Alex Kessman. However, Kessman struggled in his one game and Pineiro was signed. Ammendola ended the season on the Jets’ practice squad and was signed to a reserve/futures deal in January.
With Al Iannazzone