Coming in second in the quickly developing, quickly decided sweepstakes for Tyreek Hill doesn't feel like victory to some. But even though they lost to Miami in their bid to trade with Kansas City for the All-Pro wideout, the Jets feel that the way things unfolded is in keeping with their aggressive approach to free agency, the draft and the 2022 NFL season.
"No trades yet, but an attempted trade that was pretty dynamic and interesting with Tyreek," Jets CEO Woody Johnson told reporters Monday morning at the annual league meeting in Palm Beach, FL. "I can't really talk about him too much, he's with another team. ... But I think we've been extremely aggressive. We're not afraid of taking risk and putting all our chips on a player like him."
"Tyreek is a special player," head coach Robert Saleh said even earlier in the day, at the owners' breakfast. "He's got a special skillset. He's got dynamic speed. It's very easy to get him the football. We thought it'd be a really good opportunity when it was presented to us to add an elite player to our offense along with all the really good players we have now. [General manager Joe Douglas] was aggressive, took a big swing. It didn't work out. Win some, lose some, but happy we tried it."
Saleh knew he and the Jets had to play the hand they were dealt, which is that Hill, who grew up in southern Georgia and went to college at West Alabama, had a desire to stay closer to home by playing for the Dolphins.
"The young man wanted to go to Miami. We knew that," Saleh said. "We knew we had to be aggressive, which I felt we were. We're really excited for him that he gets his opportunity to go back home and really excited about the opportunity to compete against him."
Excitement can be a relative term, though. Hill has many remarkable exploits and awards to his credit, among them his pass-catching totals in his last two games against the Jets. In a KC loss at MetLife Stadium in 2017 and in a Chiefs win at Arrowhead in 2020, he had 10 receptions for 283 yards and touchdown catches of 79, 40, 36 and 3 yards.
Now instead of needing to defend against Hill once every two years or so, it'll be twice every season. But the Jets have been working hard on their defense and in particular on their secondary with the free agency additions of CB D.J. Reed and S Jordan Whitehead.
"We were young last year. They're going to get better," Saleh said of his returning DBs. "We get Carl [Lawson] back, we'll add pieces, so we'll be better. What does that look like? I'm not sure yet, but we'll definitely be better."
One more thing that both the CEO and his head coach agreed on is that losing out on Hill won't deter them from attempting to execute a similar trade should one materialize.
"If an opportunity presents itself, I know Joe will pull out his baseball bat and take a swing," Saleh said. "It's not something we're looking for constantly, but if something pops up because of another team's needs, we'll be ready to have a conversation about it."
"We're in it," Johnson said. "We'll do that again if we see something that'll help the team. We'll go for it."