"Sad, but exciting" was the way right guard Greg Van Roten described the conclusion of the Jets' 2020 NFL season.
"You look forward to another offseason to train, get to see the free agents, the coaching search, draft and all that," Van Roten said on this season's final episode of Inside the Jets. "The sadness of one season ending and excitement on horizon."
For the veteran Van Roten, who signed a three-year contract with the Jets this past April, the end of a season in which he played in 13 games (missing three on IR with turf toe) is a bit jarring. He played 100% of the snaps on offense in 12 of those 13 games.
"The end of a season is always something that's very sudden," said GVR, who grew up on Long Island as a dyed-in-the-green Jets fan. "You're in this routine grinding day-in and day-out, then all of sudden the schedule is over and there's nothing to prepare for and everyone goes their separate ways."
In his first season with the Jets -- after time with Green Bay (2012-13), Seattle (2014), Toronto of the CFL (2015-16), Jacksonville (2017) and Carolina (2017-19) ... he never played a snap for the Seahawks or the Jaguars -- Van Roten emerged as one of the Jets' most thoughtful and quotable players. He played football in the Ivy League for Pennsylvania, studying at the Wharton School of Business and graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a concentration in Marketing. He was also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
With the Panthers last season, Van Roten and his Carolina teammates experienced a late-season change of coaches after Ron Rivera (now with Washington) was dismissed.
"Last year, with Ron, it was my first experience [with a coach being fired], they did it toward the end of the season, and we had games left," he said. "It was strange. We had an interim coach [Perry Fewell], but the whole feel of the team changed.
"This year the writing was on the wall for Adam [former head coach Adam Gase] and when it ended it was sad from the human element. It's his livelihood, someone who believed in me and brought me to the team. I'm grateful for that. It's exciting to see what's going to happen, who they bring in and to see where you fit in their scheme and their vision. I hope to be part of it and just want to add value as a player and a veteran."
He added: "I hope to stay here. It's the NFL, it's a brutal game and a brutal business. If you're not producing you will be replaced -- the general manager, the coaches and especially the players. Year over year there's lots of roster turnover across league. The only thing consistent is the color of the uniforms. Last year you saw guys who had been in the same jersey for years move, Tom Brady goes to Tampa Bay, so it's definitely wild."
On Monday, Van Roten and his teammates each held meetings with team CEO Christopher Johnson and General Manager Joe Douglas.
"It was a quick little post-mortem," GVR said. "They said how much they appreciated the effort of the players, what they're looking for in players, and the types of guys they are going to bring in and the coaches to right the ship. It was more forward looking than looking back."
Players and coaches may change, but the Jets as an organization are powered by optimism that comes from having the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, five picks in the first three rounds, and more than $70 million in cap space.
As Van Roten said: "Sad, but exciting."