INDIANAPOLIS – Joe Douglas is counting down the days until the start of the new league year. The Jets general manager has a lot of work to do to build this team and a lot of ways he can do it.
"We’re going to get this team better any avenue we can," Douglas said Wednesday.
Douglas is at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, interviewing and evaluating players for next month’s draft. In less than two weeks, teams can begin legal tampering and reach agreements with free agents leading up to the start of the new league year on March 16.
The Jets have the ability to be very aggressive in signing and acquiring players.
They currently are roughly $48 million under the cap, according to overthecap.com. That number could increase if they release some players. Douglas said he will continue to have those conversations with his staff and player agents.
The Jets have picks four and 10 in the first round and 35 and 38 in the second. Douglas values those picks and believes in building through the draft, but you can’t rule out the possibility of using some of them if it helps them trade for a proven player who can step in and help them right way.
"If the right opportunity presents itself in the trade market, we’re ready to strike," Douglas said.
The Jets, essentially, are open for business. In fact, Douglas uttered those exact words when asked about trading some early picks for extra picks to fill more holes. Nothing should be off limits for the Jets, who went 4-13 last season and have six wins over the past two years combined.
This is Douglas’ third full offseason with the Jets and second working with coach Robert Saleh. Douglas said in January that he needs to do a better job and reiterated it on Wednesday.
"Every time I walk into the building, every time I step foot into Lucas Oil [Stadium] there’s pressure, inherent pressure that comes with this job," Douglas said. "You’re always thinking about getting this organization better. Four wins it’s not good enough. We have a lot of work to do.
"I feel like we approach this offseason with the same intensity and focus that we approached last offseason … The work that we’ve done last year, the work that we’ve done leading up to this offseason there’s been a lot of trust. I’m just excited to get this thing going. I can’t wait for the start of the league year."
The Jets’ areas of need are plenty: edge rusher, cornerback, tight end, wide receiver, offensive line and safety. They could address some of them in the draft, particularly with the four early picks.
The expectation is the Jets will take an edge rusher at four with Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux a leading candidate if he’s there. Saleh said fixing the defense "is in the front of our minds."
Cornerback is another possibility with one of the Jets first-round picks. You also can never dismiss Douglas taking another offensive lineman in the first round. He has the past two years.
"It’s a great opportunity with us currently with picks four and 10 and four picks in the top 40," Douglas said. "We have a real opportunity to add four dynamic difference makers to this team."
Douglas also hopes to lock up some of his own players.
He said the Jets are picking up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, which hardly comes as a surprise. Williams is eligible for an extension as well.
Douglas also acknowledged he’s had some discussions with impending free agent Braxton Berrios’ agent and will continue to talk. The Jets have made it known they want Berrios back.
"Braxton has been awesome since we brought him in," Douglas said. "He’s an asset to this team. For us it’s important to keep the guys that do things the right way and carry themselves the right way."