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Jets GM Joe Douglas makes edge rusher a priority ahead of Week 1

Jets general manager Joe Douglas takes in a

Jets general manager Joe Douglas takes in a practice in June.  Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

Joe Douglas is fired up for a busy and what he expects to be a productive week.

The Jets general manager has made getting an edge rusher a priority. It’s improbable Douglas will find an impactful one on the waiver wire next weekend, but he is open to trading draft capital in order to land one.

“If it was the right player we certainly would entertain it,” Douglas said in his first state of the Jets address before their preseason game Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. “We’re in the business of making this roster better. If the right opportunity presented itself, I certainly wouldn’t shut it down.”

Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney could be available. He has not signed his $15.9-million franchise tender.

There are reports that Clowney could be dealt soon. It was during cut-down weekend last year that the Raiders sent premier edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears, and got a package that included two first-round picks in return.

Clowney’s name was never mentioned to Douglas, but it certainly was implied. He seemed to pick up on it, especially after Douglas was asked if he would be willing to give up future draft picks for a significant player with one year left on his contract.

“I feel like you’re narrowing this player down,” Douglas said. “If it’s the right player, right situation we’d consider it.”

Douglas, who was hired to replace Mike Maccagnan in June, helped talk former Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil out of retirement. That could prove to be a major pickup. But Douglas hasn’t really been able to put his stamp on the Jets yet. A trade for an edge rusher — something the Jets have desperately needed — would do just that.

“We are going to focus on edge,” Douglas said. “That’s always going to be a priority for us.”

Douglas spoke positively about coach Adam Gase, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and seemingly every position on the team. He said he likes outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, and feels Tarell Basham, Frankie Luvu and Harvey Langi have had good camps. He conspicuously omitted third-round pick Jachai Polite.

Another area of focus for Douglas will be cornerback, which many consider the weakest position on the Jets.

Trumaine Johnson is out with a hamstring injury. Darryl Roberts has moved up to No. 1 corner in Johnson’s absence and Brian Poole is the slot corner. The Jets have used rookie free agent Kyron Brown and former CFL player Tevaughn Campbell with the first team, and have brought in veteran Marcus Cooper since camp started.

“We’re going to be looking to upgrade not only corner but really every position on our team,” Douglas said.

The Jets play their final preseason game Thursday. They will begin to cut their team from 90 to 53 on Friday. Douglas, who helped build Super Bowl-winning rosters, is looked forward to the challenge of doing that with the Jets.

They are third in the waiver claim order and Douglas said they plan on taking advantage of that.

“Next week’s a big week for us, for our scouting staff,” Douglas said. “Twelve-hundred guys are going to hit the market next Friday and Saturday, we got to be prepared. We are prepared. We have an opportunity to really upgrade this team. We’re fired up.”

Douglas seems pretty happy with what the Jets have on the offensive line, although he said, “it’s always going to be a point of emphasis.” But Douglas said the Jets came to the decision not to play Kalil Saturday night against the Saints. Gase had said he planned on playing Kalil for at least a quarter.

But the Jets have taken it slowly with Kalil and decided to continue doing that. Douglas said after talking with Kalil, Gase and line coach Frank Pollard, they figured it would be better if the 34-year-old continued to get his reps in practice. Kalil’s only had three contact practices to this point.

“We felt the best thing for him and the team would be to hold him out of the game,” Douglas said. “He’s only had three practices, so we felt the smart thing to do was to hold him out. We’ll re-evaluate it next week. We’re 15 days away from the opener so we feel he’s going to have plenty of time to be ready for Week 1.”

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