Firmly established in their roles with the New York Jets, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas addressed the offseason ahead.
With their traditional media meetings at the NFL Scouting Combine kiboshed by the ongoing health crisis, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas, the respective head coach and general manager of the New York Jets took to Zoom on Wednesday to discuss the team’s upcoming offseason. The activities officially got underway with the release of three-year defender Henry Anderson on Tuesday night.
ESM highlights X quotes from Douglas and Saleh, and ponders their meaning, as the teandem’s fateful first offseason together looms large on metropolian calendars…
(Quotes via notes provided by the Jets)
“In terms of Marcus, we have had productive conversations with his representatives. Similar to the last question I answered, our stance on Marcus hasn’t changed as well. Marcus is a valuable member of this organization, someone that started his career here, who’s been a pro’s pro. Smart. He’s been reliable and he’s provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We are in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term.”-Douglas on Marcus Maye
What It Could Mean: The release of Anderson attracted the attention of Erik Burkhardt, the co-head of Select Sports Group, LLC and agent to Marcus Maye, by far the Jets’ most prized free agent this offseason. When ESPN’s Field Yates noted the Jets’ $8 million expansion (through Anderson’s release) to their already-healthy cap space situation allowed them “the resources to try and acquire..(a)ny player available”, Burkhardt brought up the Jamal Adams saga and strongly hinted that Maye would follow in his fellow safety’s footsteps.
Douglas’ quote, however, should put Jets fans at ease, at least those who wish to see Maye re-don New York green next season. He further addressed Burkhardt’s comments, passing them off as “business”. With Maye a prime target for the franchise tag, the capital earned through Anderson’s release could pay off a majority of the one-year such a disgnation would offer him (circa $10-11 million).
“With regards to the roster, the one thing that’s very, very clear is the character of the individuals that put uniforms on for this Jets organization, they’re fantastic. They’re made of the right stuff. They’ve got the right mindset, they’re good young men who strive to get better. Obviously with every situation, when you study the roster and you try to make things fit with regards to what you do schematically, there’s always discussions to be had. Those are the things that we’ve been working on over the last month and we’ll continue to work on all the way up until the draft.”-Saleh on the current Jets roster
What It Could Mean: It feels like Anderson won’t be the first veteran to go, as the Jets have several other cap casualties that could find new homes fairly soon. Particularly intriguing is the case of Jamison Crowder, the team’s most consistent offensive weapon over the last two season, who would save over $10 million upon his removal. Beyond Maye, 25 other players are up for free agency, and there’s probably not a tight cause to keep any of them.
But Saleh’s words after roster analysis seem to indicate that he likes what he sees from the roster, particularly the younger pieces. Plenty of Adam Gase’s former proteges (including Ryan Tannehill and Kenyan Drake) have gone on to enjoy breakouts elsewhere. Saleh’s quote indicates that perhaps he’s not interested in a complete fire sale, but rather sees the talent that Gase left behind as clay ready for the molding.
“I feel like we’re well positioned. I feel like this isn’t going to hurt us in terms of free agents. Like I said, I feel like our evaluations, especially with the coaching staff, that’s been the main thing that we’ve been focusing on. For the remainder of this week, we’re going to be on the phone with the agents of our own current players that are hitting for agency. I really don’t feel like that’s going to affect our free agent plans or player free agent plans as it pertains to us.”-Douglas on how the Sam Darnold rumors affect the rest of the team moving forward
What It Could Mean: The only certainty of the Jets’ current quarterback quandary is that it will be over by April 29, opening day of the NFL Draft. While many have clamored for Douglas to settle the passing situation as soon as possible, Douglas indicated at several times that he is in no rush to settle the situation. One in favor of haste could argue that potential free agents would be scared away by the uncertainty under center, but Doglas appears willing to let the evaluation process, both on the free agency and draft fronts, play out. All in all, Douglas was relatively bureaucratic when it came to the Darnold conversation on Wednesday, praising his talents and contributions to the team thus far while re-confirming that he would indeed accept calls about his availability.
“There’s always comfort and familiarity. It’s almost human nature to gravitate to people you’ve worked with and people you’ve been around, but there’s still a process at which you go to. There’s a fit, there’s a value. There are all those different things, a lot of moving parts that go into it. While yeah, it’d be great, it’s not the main determining factor on whether or not we can get those people into the building, those players.”-Saleh on if he’ll target former 49ers in free agency
What It Could Mean: Don’t expect a San Francisco rebranding.
Countless offseason previews have situated former 49ers into the 2021 Jets’ roster. A popular choice has been Richard Sherman, who has been vocaly supportive of Saleh’s hire and has credited him with helping him refind his game in San Francisco. But with their cap space surplus, the Jets can’t afford to spend all that money in a single source. If they can bring some of Saleh’s former pupils over, it’s obvious they won’t complain, but they’re not just going try to assembles a San Francisco-style Avengers and call it a day.
“Joe’s made it very clear that he wants collaborative communication. He wants us to be all in this together, scouts, coaching staff, everybody within the organization speaking the same language and having a great amount of communication with regards to everything that happens in this building. Free agency and the meetings that we had, he alluded to it earlier were unbelievable. Got a lot accomplished over the course of that week. We’re going to continue to do that. There’s the old saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I think Joe believes that, and he’s been practicing and preaching that since the day we walked into this building.”-Saleh
“I would say both Woody and Christopher, they want to win. They want to create the best culture and support system for that to happen. They’ve both been very supportive of the processes that we’ve had in place and continue to have moving forward. It’s been great having Woody back. I feel like the communication has been outstanding. The number one thing is that they both want to win.”-Douglas
What It Could Mean: In this instance, Douglas and Saleh each gave a look at what the communication has been like in the post-Gase era, one defined by endless rumors of in-fighting and power struggles. Eager to move on, the Jets have created a collaborative workspace, one where Woody Johnson, back on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean, has seamlessly reconfigured (all while delighting fans with his new found prowess for being a Twitter historian). Christopher Johnson said several years back that he would not be up for hiring a coach that demanded “total control” but Saleh sounds satifised with his role in the current organization.
“We’re better positioned than we were this time last year. I would say that our philosophy and stance has not changed however. I think our goal and our plan is to be, like I said earlier, a team that really builds this through the draft and hitting on draft picks, obviously using free agency to supplement our roster. If the opportunity and the value meet, that’s going to be the point where we’re going to be aggressive and get someone that we feel good about, helping this team not only on the field, but with the culture and inside the building. While we are positioned better, I think our philosophy has stayed the same.”-Douglas on the draft
What It Could Mean: Every armchair/desk chair/beanbag chair general managers in the tri-state area has the Jets sharing some of their expanded draft capital, almost always in an attempt to land Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. But the general manager of the Jets doesn’t sound quiet ready to part with his picks just yet. Sure, it wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest to see the Jets make a deal, and any potential Watson/Wilson offering would more than likely include either the second overall choice or the pick obtained in the Adams trade from Seattle. But Douglas’ words indicate that he won’t be as trigger happy as Jets fans may expect him to be.
“We’re going to get better. We’re going to win championships here. To give you a timeline, I wish I knew, I’d go to Vegas. But we’re excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us. We’re excited about what Joe and his staff have been able to accomplish since they’ve gotten here. Now it’s just a matter of being able to piece the whole thing together and have fun doing it.”-Saleh on 2021 expectations
What It Could Mean: It’s not exactly Joe Namath’s guarantee, but Saleh’s promises of championships…with an s…should be enough to make any Jets fan run through a brick wall. But, as he iterated in his opening statements…patience will be the key.
One way or another, the 2021 offseason is going to be one to remember, for better or worse. It’s a year where the decade truly begins for the Jets. But Saleh, while hopeful, is realistic. There’s a major chance to take a step forward, but the time to judge will come September. For now, it’s time to get to work and for the fans to enjoy the ride…the football gods know they’ve paid the token.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags