May 29, 2022

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How Joe Douglas can finally turn the Jets into…

5 min read
How Joe Douglas can finally turn the Jets into...

With the 2021 season now behind them, the Jets are entering an interesting offseason.

General manager Joe Douglas has spent his first two years on the job clearing out bad contracts, getting the Jets salary cap in shape and acquiring draft assets. That has meant trading players away (Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold) and always pointing to next year.

Well, next year is here.

It is time for Douglas to greatly improve this roster and make the Jets a team that can be in contention for a playoff spot in 2022.

“We have a lot of work to do moving forward and we need to get better across the board,” Douglas said at his season-ending press conference. “I can tell you that our focus this offseason is going to be improving the team and know that I said improving the team, not just acquire talent, but improving the team.”

Douglas enters the offseason with $53.8 million in salary cap space, the fifth-most in the NFL, per Over The Cap. He also has nine draft picks, four in the top 38, to acquire players who can have an immediate impact and help coach Robert Saleh in his second year.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas speaks with the media
Joe Douglas has promised to turn the Jets into contenders — and the time has come for him to follow through.
Bill Kostroun

Douglas has not asked for our help, but if we were in charge, here is how we would attack the offseason:

Keeping their own

The first thing that Douglas has to decide on is the Jets’ own free agents. The Jets have 20 players ready to become unrestricted free agents in March. Some are low on the roster and Douglas may choose to bring back on one-year deals.

The priority for me if I were Douglas would be re-signing defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi and wide receiver/kick returner Braxton Berrios. Fatukasi is an underrated run-stopper in the middle of the defense and a team leader. I think you could get him on a three-year, $24 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. Berrios was named All-Pro as a kick returner and was a reliable wide receiver for Zach Wilson. It is hard to figure out what a contract will look like for him, but the Jets need to make every effort to bring him back unless his contract demands are outrageous.

The Jets should say goodbye to veterans Marcus Maye, Jamison Crowder, Jarrad Davis, Morgan Moses and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Maye’s free agency is complicated by his Achilles injury. If Maye is still on the market after the draft, I’d consider bringing him back on a one-year deal.

Wide receiver Braxton Berrios #10 of the New York Jets celebrates after he dives into the end zone for a touchdown
Braxton Berrios is one of the few free agents the Jets should consider keeping.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

One other thing for Douglas to consider with his own players: Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is eligible for an extension. I think Douglas will wait until 2023 to extend Williams.


The Jets have stayed away from making splashy trades to acquire players. They have been on the other side instead in recent years and that made sense as they began a rebuild. But the timing feels right for Douglas to make a splash.

“I think we’re always going to be aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself and so, the good thing is that I think moving forward, we can be in just about any discussion when it comes to player trades,” Douglas said.

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is the most interesting name rumored to be on the block. Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020, showing he can be a No. 1 receiver. He only played five games in 2021, though, leaving the Falcons at midseason to work on his mental health.

Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons in action
Calvin Ridley could make sense for the Jets if their homework checks out.
Getty Images

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before you can just say, “Go get him, Joe.” You have to investigate the circumstances of Ridley’s departure from the Falcons last season. Is he now in a better place? Does he want to play football? Then, there is the issue of what you would have to give up to get Ridley. On talent alone, Ridley would demand a first-round pick, but the complicating factors will lower his price. ESPN recently quoted an executive projecting it would be a conditional second-round pick that goes up to a first based on playing time.

If I’m Douglas, I don’t want to give up a first-rounder. Remember, this would be a 2023 draft pick if it is conditional. I would give up one of the two second-rounders the Jets have in 2022 for Ridley if you feel good about his desire to play and his mental health.

Free agency

It sounds like a lot of cap space when you say $53 million, but that won’t go far for the Jets this offseason. They have nine draft picks to sign, including two in the top 10. I have also spent money on Ridley, Fatukasi and Berrios already.

Brandon Scherff #75 of the Washington Football Team lines up
Washington guard Brandon Scherff
Getty Images

I don’t think the Jets are going to be major players in free agency because of that. To me, they have to solve one of their problem positions in free agency. The best options to me are at safety, cornerback, guard or tight end. Douglas needs to find the most bang for his buck at one of those positions.

The best options in my eyes are Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis, Washington guard Brandon Scherff, 49ers guard Laken Tomlinson and Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. I think Douglas would need to see first who does not get the franchise tag and then explore what the contract demands for each of them is and find the best value.

Depending on how much you spend on that first priority, the rest of free agency would be about cheaper free agents to add depth.

The Draft

It is impossible to project the draft in January but the Jets go into this year’s selection meeting with the No. 4 and 10 picks overall. A lot of these decisions will be based on what happens in the categories above. If the Jets get Ridley, cross wide receiver off the list. If the Jets get Davis, cross cornerback off. There is going to be a camp that wants the Jets to trade back from 10, but I think that will be tough this year because it is a weaker draft without quarterbacks teams are going to target.

One position I think Douglas should only address in the first round of the draft is edge rusher. That is where you find the best. If Douglas can get Michigan’s David Ojabo or Purdue’s George Karlaftis, that would bolster Saleh’s defense. Depending on the other moves in the offseason the other positions to watch are: cornerback, linebacker, center/guard, tight end, wide receiver and safety.

Get to work, Joe.