Joe Douglas’ Comments on Jets First Rounder Raises Eyebrows

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets

Getty New York Jets offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker reacting after an NFL game.

What appeared to be a slam dunk, no longer is.

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas was asked if he is going to pick up the fifth-year option on Alijah Vera-Tucker’s contract.

JD fumbled with his words for five seconds before responding, “We haven’t talked about that yet. We have a little bit of time after the draft. I’ll definitely update you guys on that post-draft.”

The Jets have to decide on AVT’s contractual option by May 2. If they accept it, the former USC product will be owed $15.3 million fully guaranteed for the 2025 season. If they decline it, AVT would be scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

A Very Telling Response From Douglas on AVT’s Future

I’ve spoken to several team insiders on my show, “Boy Green Daily”, this offseason. I’ve asked everyone the same questions about the future of AVT and the pending fifth-year option decision.

Most of the people I spoke to described it as a “slam dunk” obvious yes because of the upside and positional importance of the offensive line.

However, JD’s reluctance to commit to it previously this offseason during public appearances raised some eyebrows.

Interestingly back in 2022, he was asked about the fifth-year option decision for defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at the NFL Combine and he sang a much different tune.

Months before he had to make the decision, Douglas came out and told the media that they planned on accepting it. This time around he has dodged questions about AVT’s future and has kicked the can down the road.

Antwan Staley of the New York Daily News revealed his takeaways from Douglas’ press conference on Friday, April 19.

“Douglas didn’t sound too convincing they would pick up Alijah Vera-Tucker’s fifth-year option,” Staley wrote on social media.

Life Moves Pretty Fast in the NFL

On January 8 Douglas called AVT a “cornerstone player” on the offensive line at his end-of-season press conference. He said that they want to build around Vera-Tucker.

Months later it seems like JD is strongly considering declining Vera-Tucker’s fifth-year option.

The reason is obvious, durability concerns.

Over the last two years, the USC product has missed 22 games. In each of the last two seasons, AVT’s year came to an abrupt halt due to season-ending injuries.

The fifth-year option for AVT would be $15.3 million fully guaranteed, per Over The Cap. That annual salary would place him No. 11 among the highest-paid guards in the NFL, per OTC.

Declining that option is a dangerous game to play. If AVT can’t stay healthy, then that decision looks great because you can get out of the deal next offseason. However, if he stays healthy, the Jets will be in a bad negotiating position.

The green and white would have the franchise tag in their back pocket as a last resort, but you only get one of those.

Here are some of the other big-name Jets free agents that are scheduled to hit the market next year:

On top of those guys, the entire 2022 draft class is eligible to discuss contract extensions for the first time next offseason. That opens the door for some big money deals for players like Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and Breece Hall.

The Jets have to think long and hard about this AVT decision because it could have massive ripple effects on the rest of the roster.

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