The more things change in the NFL in this time of COVID, the more they seem to stay the same. As Jets General Manager Joe Douglas said, "Remember that last year we had a Combine, but didn't have Pro Days, while this year we're not going to have a Combine, but we're going to have Pro Days."
One thing that doesn't change in this league is that quarterback is Topic 1 for fans and media, especially at this time of year. And especially for a team like the Jets with a QB in Sam Darnold who's been the subject of much offseason speculation.
Douglas, as he did two months ago in introducing new Head Coach Robert Saleh to Jets Nation, was still playing Darnold's Green & White future down the middle when he and Saleh spoke with reporters on a Zoom news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
"Sam is an extremely talented player, very smart, very tough," Douglas said. "We have no doubt he is going to achieve his outstanding potential. We're in the process of gaining as much information as we can leading up through free agency and the draft. But our stance on Sam has not changed."
But as far as putting cellphone to ear when fellow NFL general managers come calling with trade proposals. ...
"I will answer the call if it's made," Douglas said. "As I said, Sam, we think, is a dynamic player in this league with unbelievable talent who really has a chance to hit his outstanding potential. But if calls are made, I will answer them."
This raised the question of a timeline for Douglas and Saleh to make a call on if Darnold will be the Jets' starting QB for a fourth season, in 2021 or, if not, who the starter will be. The GM knows time flies in the NFL, but there is still time to collect data on every position, including starting signal-caller.
"Our timeline right now is gathering as much information as we possibly can, especially as it pertains not only to free agency but to this year's draft class," he said. "We feel like we're really in no hard timeline in the immediate future to make a decision. But when we do make a decision, we're going to do it after gathering as much good information as we possibly can."
So Douglas said he feels the Jets are "well-positioned" for the March 15-17 start of the legal negotiating period for unrestricted free agents even without making any QB decisions.
And regarding the prospects of moving around in the draft to position themselves for a first-round QB selection, Douglas was non-committal. He restated his philosophy and sure made it sounded as if the Jets were more likely to stand pat or trade down in Round 1 on April 29 than to trade up.
"We obviously have a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different rabbit holes we can go down," he said. "But the ultimate focus for us to get to where the great teams are, the most consistent teams are, you do that through the draft. It's the most team-friendly market in sports. And so for us to really be that team that's consistently competing for Super Bowls, we have to hit on our draft picks."