NY Jets wanted to to re-sign Quinton Jefferson but messed it up

The Jets messed this situation up big time

Quinton Jefferson
Quinton Jefferson / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has made some impressive and praise-worthy moves so far this offseason, but his handling of the Quinton Jefferson situation appears to have been a disaster.

Most assumed that when the Jets signed defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw and Leki Fotu last week, that meant Jefferson could not be back with the team. That wasn't the case, however.

Even after signing Kinlaw and Fotu, ESPN's Rich Cimini notes that the Jets still wanted to bring Jefferson back. Ultimately, the veteran defensive lineman would sign a one-year, $3.6 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Jefferson, however, wanted to return to Florham Park. The eight-year veteran reportedly gave the Jets a chance to match the offer he received from the Browns, but the Jets "took too long to respond," per Cimini.

The Jets wanted Jefferson back. Jefferson, by all accounts, wanted to be back. Unfortunately, the Jets took too long to get back to Jefferson, and by the time they reached back out, he had already signed a deal with the Browns. He wasn't any longer.

"The Jets were given a chance to match the one-year, $3.6 million contract offer he received from the Browns, but they took too long to respond, two sources said. Jefferson had agreed to terms with Cleveland by the time the Jets answered."

Rich Cimini

The NY Jets failed to re-sign Quinton Jefferson due to their own incompetence

The team's failure to re-sign Jefferson looks even worse when compared to the contract given to Kinlaw. Despite Jefferson being a more productive and durable player in every possible way, Kinlaw was given twice as much money by the Jets in free agency.

This includes a whopping $6.9 million in guaranteed money — more than the Jets gave Tyron Smith. Jefferson finished the 2023 season with six sacks and 29 pressures on just 240 pass-rush snaps. He only recorded two fewer pressures, despite playing nearly 30 percent fewer pass-rush snaps than Kinlaw.

Kinlaw's 2023 season was by far his best season in the NFL, and it still wasn't as productive as anything Jefferson has done since 2021. Combine that with the fact that Kinlaw only played 10 total games between 2021 and 2022 and the deal becomes even more puzzling.

The fact that the Jets could've not signed Kinlaw and re-signed Jefferson for half the price is frustrating, made even more frustrating by the knowledge that the only reason Jefferson is playing for a new team in 2024 is that the Jets simply took too long to respond to him.

That's incompetence.

Of course, this one move doesn't make or break the Jets' season. It doesn't erase all the incredible work Douglas has done to revamp the Jets' offensive line for a bargain price. The organization deserves praise for that.

But in a vacuum, this is malpractice on the part of Douglas and the front office. They paid significantly more to downgrade at defensive tackle and missed out on the opportunity to bring back a good player because they didn't call him back in time. There's no defending that.

The Jets have had a pretty impressive offseason to this point, but this entire situation will not be one to remember fondly.