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 Jets GM Joe Douglas: Ideally Bryce Huff is Back

General Manager Says the Team Will Not Use the Franchise Tag on the Pass Rusher


Shortly after Jets GM Joe Douglas told reporters at the NFL Combine the team won't use the franchise tag on edge Bryce Huff, he reiterated he would like to re-sign the valuable defender.

"Obviously Bryce, unbelievable season," Douglas said. "A great teammate, great player and a player that is very deserving to find out what his value is in the open market. The plan is not to tag Bryce at that 21-plus [million dollar] number, but the plan is to continue talking with the agents. Ideally, Bryce is back. Ten sacks is a very valuable thing to our defense and our team. We're going to have those discussions moving forward and we have a little bit of time before that tampering window starts."

The NFL's negotiating window opens March 11, 52 hours prior to the league year beginning on March 13 at 4:00 p.m. After completing free agent interviews in Florham Park, Douglas has a packed schedule in America's Heartland.

"Just stepped foot off the plane [Tuesday] from some great free agent meetings with our coaching staff, so hit the ground running right into player interviews," he said. "The workout schedule has changed a little bit the last few years, so now we have morning interviews where it used to be strictly night interviews. So interviews until 11:00pm, wake up, the interviews start at 9:00am, noon presser and now with you guys. But then it rolls into the agent meetings and you're just trying to get a feel for the landscape of free agency while you're watching these college prospects work out and getting a first impression on quite a few of these guys that we didn't get at the Senior Bowl."

Douglas insisted the Jets "are ready to answer the bell" this offseason with critical decisions that lie ahead in free agency and the draft. Including Huff, the Jets have 21 unrestricted free agents. In addition to addressing the offensive line, they could be active at several spots including wide receiver, backup QB, defensive tackle and safety.

"I feel like the majority of the evaluation, the hay is in the barn," Douglas said. "Now it's talking to the agents and then figuring out the interest level on both sides and building your free agency plan -- your pivot points, your price points, the market value on each player."

The front-office personnel has changed around Douglas, but the GM remains confident in a group that includes Greg Nejmeh, director of pro personnel, Phil Savage, senior football advisor, Jon Carr, director of college scouting, and veteran scouts Jay Mandolesi and Johnathon Stigall.

"[Former Ravens GM] Ozzie [Newsome] always wanted to treat it almost like a roster with the personnel staff," said Douglas of his mentor. "Sometimes, as you've seen Baltimore do, they let players leave and get the compensatory picks, but it's building from within. You're developing, developing, developing and that's the goal here -- to continue to develop good, young, talented evaluators, analytics, operations. Everyone in multiple departments, groom them to rise up through the ranks. Like Ozzie said when I was a personal assistant, you're going to learn how we do things from soup to nuts. From making copies and picking guys at the airport to the very top level. That's the culture that we're trying to build here."

The build will continue for Douglas and the Jets in the coming weeks. They currently have five picks in the draft headlined by the No. 10 overall selection, but Douglas believes three compensatory seventh-round picks could be on the way.

He created some financial flexibility with the release of veteran G Laken Tomlinson and more moves could come down the pike like contract restructures, which Douglas has done in the past. The Combine is centered around the draft, but free agency will provide Douglas the first chance this offseason to fortify the Jets' 2024 roster and it will commence a week after he returns to One Jets Drive.

"There is a little bit of a reprieve from the start of free agency until the draft but really now these first few weeks, starting with the Combine, it's go, go, go," he said. "So we're going to get back off the plane from Indy and solidify our free agency plan and then get ready to execute at the tampering period."

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