A potential New York Jets turnaround will have begun with Joe Douglas’s overall patience in the Jamal Adams saga.
At some point, NFL teams must sign their own-drafted players. It’s a certainty pretty obvious to the masses. What flies a bit under the radar is when that “some point” arrives.
The organizations mired in losing are oftentimes criticized for not holding onto these players. They ask, “Why in the world would a down-on-its-luck NFL franchise ever allow a star player to get away?” It leads to sentiments that make sense when discussing a George Steinbrenner’s salary-cap-free baseball landscape. Stars equal wins and wins equal championships is the easy, mainstream formula.
Not so fast. Not in the National Football League, anyway. And the New York Jets are a classic example of a team attempting to do the right thing in the face of annual misfortune.
Everybody already knows the story. Adams decided to go all-scorched Earth on the Jets organization with an eye on forcing his way out of town. His near-hometown of Dallas was mentioned plenty, as was his contempt for the head coach and the franchise’s business dealings as a whole.
The key was the young general manager’s patience in the face of overwhelming scrutiny.
Adams was discussing contract extension early in season No. 3. The chatter began way before the positive January 2020 vibes started to hit your computers and smartphones. It was a point of contention during the trade deadline saga of October 2019.
Douglas remained firm in his belief that an extension shouldn’t come prior to the completion of a fourth year—as few first-round picks ever get that deal. (At the very least, he wasn’t rushing to the table at any point prior to Adams’s exit.)
The Jets message also remained constant. They wanted Adams to be a Jet for life and told the media they would begin the negotiating process following the NFL draft process last spring. That didn’t mean they were ready to dish out an extension, either. It simply sounded like one side trying to fend off the dogs.
In the end, coming together on terms never even came close to reality, as Adams had other ideas.
Obviously, the haul New York received for Adams is tremendous in its own right, but it was Douglas’s patience throughout the entire process that really did the trick. Remember, this is a young general manager in the greatest media market in the world. He’s publicly dealing with a disgruntled star player, his team’s best player, while media and fans are putting the clamps on him to sign the perceived “best safety in the league.”
Douglas’s patience allowed the trade to happen in the end. Had he not remained patient, Adams would still be a Jet and the team could have won a couple of more games. New York would also have far less cap space and draft capital at its disposal. Douglas would be no closer to winning a Super Bowl. He would simply have “looked better” to the masses that encourage star treatment for star players.
Adams and the Seattle Seahawks now face an uncertain future after their disheartening wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
Seattle is without its next two first-round picks, its next third-round selection, and has an injured Adams who apparently needs offseason surgery. With just a club-option remaining on his deal at a $9.86M cap hit in 2021, the Seahawks’ projected $15.09 million cap space this spring leaves them in an uncomfortable spot.
The Jets, on the other hand, are loaded with draft capital and salary-cap space with little guaranteed money on the books. The future slate is pristine. All Douglas has to do is hire the right coach and come up with another dandy of a draft class.
There’s still a long way to go before the Jets can claim things have officially turned around, but if and when that time comes, Douglas’s patience in the Adams saga should be looked at as the official starting point. Dishing out mega-bucks to a strong safety with nothing of an infrastructure to speak of would have only put a dent in the team-building process.
That aforementioned “some point” has yet to arrive. The Jets are hoping it hits at this point next year and the reason they haven’t hit that “some point” in so long is due to poor drafting and cap management. Free agency and contract extensions must be viewed as the “cherry on top” of an already-established infrastructure built mainly through the draft.
The goal is a Super Bowl, not to win five games or bow out in the wild-card round. And only maximizing every dollar under the salary cap can be tolerated when the Vince Lombardi Trophy is the target.
The tanking coach to the Jets?
Word around the campfire has Doug Pederson‘s job security in doubt with the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s right, the tanking, no-good head coach who helped cap the NFL regular season with a thud might not be totally secure, via ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Tim McManus.
SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano decided to up the ante, reporting that Pederson should be near the top of the Jets’ head-coaching candidate list if Pederson is fired. Douglas spent three-plus seasons in Philadelphia, which means he’s familiar with Pederson.
Interestingly, Pederson and the Eagles did what the Jets were tirelessly accused of all season. They intentionally tanked a game. Removing Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld—a quarterback who wasn’t ready for primetime—allowed the Washington Football Team easy entry to the NFL playoffs at 7-9.
Douglas’s culture talk is well known. He’s the type of leader who wants his guys to win no matter the situation—as evidenced by the team’s two-game winning streak in spite of Trevor Lawrence‘s services. How he’d view Pederson in the event the man is fired would be interesting.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini published an article Sunday morning that has Jets fandom in a tizzy. NFL draft insider Todd McShay provided his hunch on what Douglas might do with the No. 2 overall pick.
“I know Joe Douglas. I obviously played with him in college. We have a good relationship,” McShay said. “I know he grew up in the Ozzie Newsome organization with the Ravens. If it’s not going to be Trevor Lawrence, it’s going to be move down, if possible. If not, let’s protect [Darnold] and get guys around the player we think can be our franchise.
“I know they like Sam. I think they would view Trevor as a potential upgrade, but I think they view Sam as good enough to build around. That’s what they have to do. … They can build an entire organization in the next two years of the draft [with four first-round picks], and I think that’s exactly what Joe Douglas is going to do.”
It’s as pro-Sam Darnold a thought as could be. And while it sounds like something Douglas would do—trade down and continue to beef-up the infrastructure—is it real?
Remember, McShay and Douglas are close. The two have known each other for decades, stretching back to their playing days at the University of Richmond. Draft games are played all the time. Nobody could ever throw accusations McShay’s way—as such an accusation is nearly unprovable—but an unsolicited “hunch” could be a bone thrown in his former collegiate teammate’s direction.
These smokescreens are executed all the time. It’s something that must be kept in the back of the mind this time of year and even more so as we draw closer to the draft.
Douglas is a guy who said it on day No. 1: His belief in making sure the offensive line, the defensive line, and the quarterback is the strength of the team is unwavering. Could Douglas possibly roll with Darnold again after the film the kid put up this past season?