What Has Defined Joe Douglas' First Year as GM of the Jets?

Douglas Was Hired Last June After Stints with the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles


Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.

Today's question: What has defined Joe Douglas' first year as general manager of the Jets?

EA: Joe Douglas' first year on the job was atypical. Hired last June, Douglas took over the Jets football department a few months following the draft and free agency periods. Facing adversity along the way, Douglas never wavered and displayed a steady hand while reiterating that he wanted to build the best culture of professional sports. He sent a message that no trading partners were off-limits and executed a pair of trades with the Jets' longtime nemesis, the Patriots. Operating at a position of strength along the DL, he shipped Leonard Williams to the Giants in exchange for a pair of picks. He said the offensive line would be an emphasis and the Jets could have as many as four new starters up front next season including rookie T Mekhi Becton. Douglas set financial ceilings and stayed disciplined while mining for talented players with good work ethics who love football and could line up at multiple positions. He surrounded himself with an excellent staff and said although he would make the final decision, it would never be unilateral. He and head coach Adam Gase, along with their respective staffs, worked seamlessly from their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic. In league circles, Douglas had an excellent reputation before joining the Jets. While many of his moves can be better evaluated over time, Douglas is clearly a strong leader who has this ship headed in the right direction. He is anything but typical.

EG: One word that I think has defined Joe Douglas' first year is unique. He was hired in June, which was considered unconventional by many. It can be argued Douglas' first offseason as GM was the most uncommon in the NFL history between the virtual pre-draft process, draft and free agency. Yet the rookie GM was still able to make the Jets a better team. He revamped the OL, added size and speed at WR and provided depth across the board including CB, S, RB and QB. Every media member I spoke to since Douglas was hired — on camera and off camera — had positive reviews of Douglas. He's been the stabilizing force he was made out to be. He navigated perhaps the choppiest waters he'll experience in his tenure as GM with a calm, steady approach with no prior experience in the head seat. His calculated approach to free agency has set the Jets up for the future both with their roster and financial situations. In the draft, he turned his original eight picks into nine and CB Quincy Wilson, and he also re-acquired his 2021 sixth-round pick. While the moves Douglas has made cannot be fully evaluated until down the road, Jets fans should be encouraged about the future of the franchise.

RL: To me what has defined Joe Douglas' first year in the Jets' GM office are a couple of traits: decisiveness and quiet confidence. The decisiveness was seen in some of his transactions. He had a plan for his O-line and quickly brought in George Fant, Connor McGovern and five other candidates. One day after WR Robby Anderson left for Carolina, Breshad Perriman was signed. And there were Douglas' several draft moves, including those rare deals with certain opponents, the Giants (in the October Leonard Williams deal) and the Patriots (draft-day tradedowns). The quiet confidence comes in such things as those deals with the Giants and Pats, two teams the Jets hadn't traded with in more than two decades before Joe's arrival, and in setting a philosophy of signing good players while minding the pursestrings rather than emptying the wallet. And when a reporter suggested Douglas was hedging his bets on how he negotiates, he replied politely but firmly, "If a team calls, we're going to have conversations. I don't view it as hedging. I view it as doing my job." The GM's confidence and decisiveness go hand in hand and will have a lot to say about how improved the Jets are in 2020.

OL: I think what has defined Joe Douglas' first year as a general manager in the NFL has been patience — a strength and trait he used to make many decisions regarding free agency, the draft, the team's financial future, and the culture. Douglas was hired at what many would deem a challenging time — June of 2019 — following the team's free agency and draft period. After spending a significant amount of his career in Baltimore and Philadelphia — both organizations in which he won Super Bowls — Douglas was/is determined to create a culture surrounding the Jets with players that love the game and are mentally tough and committed. His actions spoke louder than his words, though. At just one year in, the rookie GM has already made history by creating a trading partner out of the Jets' divisional rival, the Patriots, and dealing former DL Leonard Williams to cross-town rival the Giants. He has made good on his word to protect young QB Sam Darnold by revamping the offensive line and created salary cap flexibility for next year. Douglas is widely regarded by his peers around the league as an incredibly smart talent, and I think we saw him quietly and patiently prove that throughout his first year as a GM.

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