JOE DOUGLAS begins his fifth season as general manager of the New York Jets after being named to the position in June of 2019. Now in his 24th season in the National Football League, Douglas, a three-time Super Bowl winning executive, has put his stamp on the organization.
"You better know what you're looking for and know what you're looking at."
That was advice Douglas recalled from his mentor, former Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, and he has stayed true to his core principle that successful teams are built by people with the right level of commitment, character, and competence, as Douglas looks to develop and sustain to what he characterizes as, "the best culture in sports."
Since taking the position, Douglas has shown that the search for players never stops. He has added starters and contributors in the NFL Draft and undrafted free agency, signed key free agents, both from the onset and throughout the year, and made steadying in-season moves via waiver claims and trades. Since his appointment, over 97% of the roster was acquired or extended by him, with over 83% coming in the last two years.
For Douglas, roster construction isn't a quick fix. "Ultimately, I think when you look at successful organizations, no matter what the sport, you don't see a lot of teams that build long-term success by buying their way out of it," he said in 2020. "You see the teams, the organizations that have long-term success, they draft well, and they develop their players."
Not long after his hiring, Douglas began implementing a variety of programs and initiatives throughout the organization all with the intent of having the "best culture in sports" at One Jets Drive. Nearly four years later, Douglas and his staff have seen that plan come to fruition. After the success on defense last season, ranking fourth overall in the NFL, and the early contributions of several young offensive players, the culture that Douglas and Saleh have built has become an attractive destination for players around the League, including four-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl XLV MVP, and 10X Pro Bowler Aaron Rodgers.
Since his hire, Douglas has improved the team's financial flexibility and added a number of draft assets, both by trading players with expiring contracts and draft-day deals. Through those deals, most notably the acquisition of two first-round picks and a third-round pick for safety Jamal Adams, as well as a second-round pick, fourthround pick, and sixth-round pick for quarterback Sam Darnold, the Jets have picked in the first two rounds of the 2021, 2022, and 2023 drafts nine times, including six first-round selections.
Entering any draft, the mission for Douglas is always the same – add difference makers that fit within the culture and scheme. Over his four drafts as the general manager (2020-23), he has done just that, using top 45 picks on both sides of the ball, selecting edge Will McDonald IV (No. 15, 2023), center Joe Tippmann (No. 43, 2023), cornerback Sauce Gardner (No. 4, 2022), wide receiver Garrett Wilson (No. 10, 2022), edge Jermaine Johnson (No. 26, 2022), running back Breece Hall (No. 36, 2022), quarterback Zach Wilson (No. 2, 2021), Alijah Vera-Tucker (No. 14, 2021), and tackle Mekhi Becton (No. 11, 2020), while showing mobility in each draft to target key players via moving up, first with Alijah Vera-Tucker and again in 2022 with Jermaine Johnson and Breece Hall.
Douglas has added starters and depth throughout the draft, highlighted by the selection of the NFL's 2022 Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the Year in first-team All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson. With both Gardner and Wilson's recognitions, the Jets became just the third team in NFL history to win both awards in the same season. Additionally, Douglas saw 2022 second-round rookie running back Breece Hall become the team's leading rusher last year after averaging 5.8 yards a carry while establishing himself as a playmaker within the League.
Despite the added wrinkle that his first draft as general manager (2020) was also the NFL's first ever virtual draft because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, he showed no signs of being a rookie, despite drafting from his home, the first-time G.M. turned eight draft picks and Leonard Williams' expiring contract into 13 players, while also adding key undrafted free agents.
As with the draft picks, matching character and talent has shown to be key when Douglas has used free agency to add to the roster. Over the last two offseasons (2022-23), the Jets added multiple veterans with Super Bowl experience as wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr., cornerback D.J. Reed, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson, tight end C.J. Uzomah, and safety Jordan Whitehead have all played in one of the last four Super Bowls.
Prior to the start of training camp (2023), Douglas further exemplified his commitment to players who fit his vision by extending All-Pro and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Quinnen Williams to a four-year contract extension.
Since becoming General Manager in 2019, Douglas has overseen a roster that fielded four players who earned First Team All-Pro recognition, an Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, and seven Pro Bowlers.
Whether through free agency, the draft, or League trades, Douglas has remained committed to exploring every avenue for ways to improve the roster. At his end of year press conference, Douglas shared, "As it pertains to upgrading the roster, we're going to look at every avenue, every position, every different way we can to upgrade the team." Douglas and his staff did just that this offseason, trading for Rodgers.
Among the priorities for Douglas has been transforming both the lines – offensive and defensive – into deep and talented units. Offensively, in addition to adding first and second round picks through the draft – Becton, VeraTucker, and Tippmann – has signed free agents, including Pro Bowlers Duane Brown and Tomlinson and veterans Connor McGovern and Wes Schweitzer. On the defensive side, draft picks Johnson and McDonald, along with free agent signings Carl Lawson, Quinton Jefferson, Thomas, Al Woods, have teamed with All-Pro Quinnen Williams to form a strength upfront on the Jets defense.
Throughout his time in the League, Douglas has put in the work and paid his dues, working as both a pro and college scout in Baltimore, Chicago, and Philadelphia, and helping shape three different Super Bowl winning rosters. Before joining the Jets, he spent the previous three seasons as the vice president of player personnel with the Eagles. In Philadelphia, he was a key component in acquiring many of the players that helped win Super Bowl LII, including the game's MVP, quarterback Nick Foles
Using every avenue to help improve the team, Douglas was part of a front office that acquired the players who scored all but two of the team's postseason touchdowns, including four of the five scores in the Super Bowl. A trio of 2017 unrestricted free agent signings - LeGarrette Blount, Foles and Alshon Jeffery – as well as a pair of street free agents – Patrick Robinson and Torrey Smith – all contributed scores on the team's title run. The Eagles' leading receiver in the Super Bowl, running back Corey Clement, was signed as an undrafted free agent, while the team's leading rusher in the game, running back Jay Ajayi, joined the club as a midseason-trade acquisition.
Prior to joining the Eagles, Douglas spent a season as the director of college scouting for Chicago (2015).
Entering the NFL as a player personnel assistant (2000) the year Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV, Douglas ascended within the Ravens organization, holding various posts in the club's scouting department, serving as a national scout (2012-15), Southeast area scout (2009-11), East Coast area scout (2008) and Northeast area scout (2003-07), helping add a number of prominent players via the draft, including the Super Bowl XLVII MVP, Flacco, as well as a number of Pro Bowl players – Ben Grubbs, C.J. Mosley, Justin Tucker and Marshal Yanda.
An All-Atlantic 10 selection, Douglas started 45-consecutive games at tackle for the University of Richmond. Following his collegiate playing career, he transitioned into a volunteer assistant coach role with the Spiders in 1999.
As an offensive and defensive lineman at Mechanicsville (VA) HS, formerly Lee-Davis, Douglas was recognized as a two-time all-state honoree.
He and his wife, Shannon, have two daughters, Addison and Leighton, and a son, Thomas.
New York Jets 2019-Present
General Manager 2019-Present
Philadelphia Eagles 2016-18
Vice President of Player Personnel 2016-18
Chicago Bears 2015
Director of College Scouting 2015
Baltimore Ravens 2000-14
National Scout 2012-14
Southeast Area Scout 2009-11
East Coast Area Scout 2008
Northeast Area Scout 2003-07
Player Personnel Assistant 2000-02
University of Richmond 1999
Volunteer Assistant Coach 1999
University of Richmond (Tackle) 1995-98