Remember how NY Jets coach Robert Saleh intimated that a trade to improve the offensive line was unlikely to happen because any team that has an offensive lineman is unwilling to give up such a valued player? That theory was proven wrong instantly after the Minnesota Vikings traded Ezra Cleveland.
Cleveland has improved mightily after a rough start to his career, but he is in the final year of his contract on a Vikings team that could move closer to tanking following the injury to Kirk Cousins. If any OL was going to be traded, this was the guy the Jets should have targeted.
While Douglas twiddled his thumbs in Florham Park, the Jets botched a quick fix to their line struggles. To make matters worse, a contender in the AFC who already has an above-average interior offensive line managed to acquire him without paying an expensive price.
Cleveland was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick, showing that Joe Douglas could have acquired the former Boise State standout for a discounted price. With the offensive line in dire straits, Douglas' inaction might cost the Jets in the short term.
NY Jets miss Ezra Cleveland trade as Jaguars acquire stud OG
Cleveland is not only an ascending player with tackle-guard versatility, but he is coming from a Kevin O'Connell/Sean McVay-adjacent offense that has very similar principles to what the Jets are running with Nathaniel Hackett. He could have stepped right in and been an effective blocker in a familiar scheme.
If Joe Tippmann is unable to heal up in time for the Jets' Monday Night Football matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, there's a good chance that practice squad lineman Xavier Newman will end up in a starting role. In a strange twist of fate, Mekhi Becton is one of the healthiest linemen on the Jets.
Trading for a wide receiver like Hunter Renfrow would be an immense boost to this offense, but the comically bad injury luck the Jets have had to put up with in the last few weeks means that the line must take priority. Douglas, allegedly a mastermind in identifying line talent, whiffed again.
The Jets are trying to keep a lot of balls in the air right now, as they are assuredly scouring the market for wide receiver trades and ways to offload some expensive veteran contracts. If that's what they are up to, their inability to effectively multitask cost them a solid guard at a cheap price.