Credit Photo - newyorkjets.com
By Vincent Fodera @Fodera80
For all of the anticipation, the waiting, the projecting- Joe Douglas and the New York Jets fell flat on Day one of Free Agency. Yes, Free Agency technically opens 3/18 at 4PM, but for all intents and purposes, the legal tampering period is the real start. The Jets have a plethora of holes to fill, most notably along the Offensive Line, but on day one, they took a very conservative route. They added ex-Seahawk LT George Fant for 3Y/$30M, and that was it. Now, Fant isn’t a “bad” player, but he’s not one of the big name players who were available at the start of the day, honestly it’s a hard sell that he’ll even be an upgrade of Kelvin Beachum. The signing of Fant would be more easily stomached if it had come on the heels of a more drastic upgrade, and Fant was looked at as a swing Tackle. Looking to Fant to be a plug and play starter to protect your 22 year-old franchise QB’s blindside seems unwise to me.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, it’s disappointing to watch the Jets come out with a real opportunity to support Sam Darnold’s growth and development in an immediate fashion, and for them to miss out just about every big name on the market. That disappointment doubles when you watch the Bills add Stefon Diggs via trade, and the Dolphins spending big. The Jets will now be left with 2nd and 3rd tier options to patch their offensive line, or be forced to use precious draft capital in a trade for a player like Trent Williams.
The book on Joe Douglas suggests that his tutelage under former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome may be the reason for his patient approach to Free agency. Newsome was known for largely sitting out on signing high priced top tier free agents, in favor of the 2nd tier level players, and resigning his homegrown talents acquired through excellent drafting. While this has proved to be a fantastic strategy that has kept the Ravens competitive for over a decade, my issue is that the Jets aren’t the Ravens. Joe Douglas is approaching this roster as if the infrastructure has already been solidified by years of great drafting- it hasn’t been. This conservative approach will work fine once the roster has been built up over a number of years, it’s not going to work when you’re essentially starting from scratch and trying to clean up your predecessors messes.
I think every Jets fan feels the same way, Joe Douglas needs to step up and add some talent to a roster in dire need of it. It may seem reactionary to criticize a rookie GM after 1 day of pre-free agency, but this is a football team with a young, good QB on a rookie contract. The window to take advantage of not having a huge QB contract on your books is closing faster than it seems, and the team has publicly stated playoff aspirations. Joe Douglas has a lot of expectations on his shoulders and the New York market is a tough one that will hold him to it. Right now, the stock on Joe Douglas is pointing down, unless he can pull off some moves to show this roster is moving in the right direction.