NY Jets: Joe Douglas’ legacy will be defined by the NFL Draft

NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has opted for a patient strategy this offseason. As such, he’s ensured that his legacy will be defined by the NFL Draft.

NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has taken a different approach to free agency this offseason. Unlike the previous regime, he isn’t willing to let his free-agent signings define his tenure with the Jets.

Instead, he’s letting his drafting do the talking.

Douglas’ plan of attack in free agency was very different from the plans Jets fans have seen in recent years. Under Mike Maccagnan, free agency periods were exciting, thrilling, and memorable.

But they also proved to be costly, expensive, and regretful.

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From Trumaine Johnson to Le’Veon Bell to C.J. Mosley, Maccagnan made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to spend top dollar in free agency. That approach trickled down to his strategy with retaining players as the likes of Henry Anderson and Quincy Enunwa were both gifted pretty hefty extensions.

But under Douglas, it’s safe to say that neither of those deals would have been made. And in hindsight, that probably would have been for the best.

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Instead, Douglas has opted for a litany of one-year deals and even the multi-year contracts he has given out all have escape clauses after year one. He isn’t spending big on the top players on the market.

Rather, Douglas set his price point prior to free agency and stuck to it. If a player demanded more, they were no longer a target.

On one hand, that’s a commendable approach — one that has surely worked to mend the perception of the Jets’ front office around the league. Under Maccagnan, the Jets were pushovers used to create bidding wars, often against themselves.

But under Douglas, that won’t be an issue.

The Jets missed out on signing top free agents such as Byron Jones and will likely miss out on Jadeveon Clowney. If Maccagnan was still in charge, it’s safe to assume the latter wouldn’t still be on the open market.

Douglas is hitching his legacy on his ability to draft well. It remains to be seen whether it will work or not, but it’s certainly worth a shot after Maccagnan’s failures.

But while it’s easy to commend Douglas and declare a new era of Jets football, fans of Gang Green don’t have to look too far back to find a similar approach taken by a previous regime.

The infamous John Idzik era in New York is a dark period in Jets football, but the former GM practiced many of the same beliefs about roster construction that Douglas has.

Idzik didn’t pay big money for free agents. Instead, he bet his future on the NFL Draft racking up 12 draft picks in the ill-fated 2014 NFL Draft that sparked the so-called “Izdik 12.”

It was a complete disaster and Idzik didn’t make it through the calendar year.

Now, this obviously isn’t to insinuate that Douglas will follow the same path as Idzik. The latter came from a financial background while Douglas cut his teeth as a scout. That alone should provide more promise for his ability to evaluate talent.

But it does show that either strategy could fail. Spending big money on free agents could get a team in trouble as could relying on the draft.

At the end of the day, a general manager simply needs to make the correct decisions. If they spend in free agency, they better sign the right players. And if they rely on the draft, they better hit on their picks.

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Douglas is staking his future on the latter and only time will tell if it ultimately pays off.