When Zach Wilson went down with an injury during a 54-13 route in New England, the mood shifted towards selling at the trade deadline.
The New York Jets had plenty of impending free agents on the roster and it made sense for Joe Douglas to flip them for draft capital while he still could. November 2 came and went, however, and only one trade was made — an acquisition of right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Veterans Marcus Maye, Jamison Crowder and Morgan Moses stayed put among others and there was certainly no ‘fire sale’ of assets. It was the first time under this new administration that we saw a focus on winning now, rather than winning in the future.
So, what’s changed? Is Douglas feeling the heat despite Woody Johnson’s proclamation of “unwavering” support? Do they believe they must keep this roster strong in order to develop Wilson? Or is it possible that the franchise is still considering an extension for a few of these veteran players?
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Douglas Explains Lack of Trades
The Jets general manager addressed the media on November 2 after the deadline. As you can imagine, one of the hot topic questions was his reluctance to sell off pieces like he’s done in the past.
“If a deal wasn’t made, it’s just we felt like the value that was offered didn’t meet our value for the player,” Douglas told reporters, “and so we feel good about the team we have.”
This may sound like a pretty standard answer from the Jets boss but it does allow you to read between the lines. For example, Maye’s future with the team is still undecided and they weren’t going to trade him just for the sake of it. Moses is needed in the here and now, after another setback in Mekhi Becton’s recovery timeline.
The oddest non-sell was probably Crowder. The Jets are deep at wide receiver and at age 29 next June, it’s unlikely that the franchise re-signs the slot receiver with Elijah Moore on the roster. Keeping him serves one sole purpose, his presence should aid in the development of Wilson and Mike White, which is the vibe the GM gave the press.
“I really love the wide receiver room,” Douglas responded later in the press conference, “I feel like that was a key in last year’s offseason process — was upgrading that room for the quarterback — and the weapons that we have in there and the unique skill set that each one of them bring — Corey [Davis] and Denzel [Mims] have that size and length and wingspan. [Crowder and] Braxton [Berrios], they’re primary slot guys but they can line up everywhere, they can route off DBs and create separation, give the quarterback some lay-up throws. Elijah Moore, obviously his speed, his versatility, just get the ball in his hands and let him work, like his explosiveness [and] his make-miss. So I think the depth in this room, it’s good to see and we do want to keep weapons for this quarterback.”
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Does This Mean Extensions Are on the Way?
Douglas went out of his way to note his excitement about the John Franklin-Myers extension. “A well-earned extension for JFM,” the GM voiced, “we want to be a team that takes care of the guys that earn it and take care of our own guys, and he’s a guy that earned it from coming in here and battling… so [we’re] excited to reward a player like JFM.”
This organization has developed a bad reputation when it comes to extending homegrown talent and Douglas continued that trend when he first took over, allowing Robby Anderson to walk in free agency and trading former top prospects like Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold. Up until Franklin-Myers inked the new deal, it was unclear whether or not the Jets would ever cough up some long-term guarantees.
An important factor is certainly who drafted each player. Douglas has a type of athlete that he feels comfortable building around and that mold involves high character above all else, even talent. Ex-GM Mike Maccagnan had the opposite mindset, sacrificing team chemistry for raw ability countless times.
Now that most of Maccagnan’s prospects are gone, I do feel fans will begin to see a lot more extensions. Here are the main homegrown players that are up for a new contract in 2022.
- Maye: Maccagnan pick, more below.
- Folorunso Fatukasi: Maccagnan pick turned team captain, highlighted as next potential deal after JFM by ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
- Javelin Guidry: Undrafted free agent signed by Douglas in 2020, has become a key cog in the secondary.
- Nathan Shepherd: Maccagnan draft pick, may end up being replaced by rookie Jonathan Marshall.
- Jeff Smith: Undrafted free agent signed by Maccagnan in 2019, has earned a depth role in Mike LaFleur’s offense.
- Braxton Berrios: Claimed off waivers by Douglas like JFM, featured in special teams with a depth role in the offense.
- Kyle Phillips: Undrafted free agent signed by Maccagnan in 2019, has not played yet this season due to a long-term ankle injury.
- White: Signed by Douglas after the Dallas Cowboys released him in 2019, coming off a 400-yard passing performance in his first NFL start.
There are also plenty of impending free agents that were signed to one-year deals in 2021, like Moses, Keelan Cole, Jarrad Davis, Lamarcus Joyner, Vinny Curry, Tyler Kroft, Tevin Coleman, Dan Feeney, Tim Ward and more.
Douglas and his staff will surely address each player on a case-by-case basis but one of the more polarizing Jets pushing for an extension is Maye. The safety had discussions with the organization this offseason before signing a franchise tag. Since then, he has also been arrested for a DUI hit-and-run on February 22.
“Marcus is a valued member of this team,” Douglas stated regarding Maye, “love having him here and he’s a fantastic young player… we can’t renegotiate any deal with him until the end of the season and we’ve got 10 games left to just evaluate him and every other member of this team moving forward.”
When pressed on whether or not he’d be extended, Douglas reiterated that he’s a “valued member of this team,” adding that “there’s still a lot of meat left on the bone in terms of the season so we’ll see how the last 10 games play out and go from there at the end of the year.”
In terms of the ongoing legal proceedings, the Jets GM was clear that he supports Maye, noting that they “talked about it and put it to bed right there.”