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Recapping Joe Douglas’ Wild Ride Through Free Agency in 2022 With the New York Jets

Joe staying up late, making deals

NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combline Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are through the first part of free agency which in truth is almost all of free agency. There will be some contracts signed by a few notable guys, but the big part is over. We will hear of this guy or that guy signing, but other than that all the moves have been made. The only thing left is depth.

So let’s take a look to see how well the Jets have done.

I will caveat this as saying that Joe Douglas tries hard, but he is not good at free agency. This is not a malady specific to Joe. We know those who have sat in the Jets GM seat after Parcells left for the Jets have been suspect at best in free agency. Maybe Parcells put a curse on the seat. I don’t know, but some of the contracts through the years have been ghastly.

To be honest I hate free agency for the most part. I realize you have to sign your own free agents, but that is just part of your duty as a GM. Free agency to me is like buying a used car, or as my dad would put it “buying someone else’s headache.” I understand the rationale in bringing in a star someone else couldn’t afford and your team couldn’t select. You only get a few premium Draft picks, and sometimes you can’t take the good player you want.

For the most part, however, free agency for a GM is needed because they suck at their job. If you had drafted well in the first place you wouldn’t need to buy expensive players from someone else. The more you spend, the more you are showing how horrible you have performed at your job.

Many of the contracts aren’t even that large. You have to ask yourself this. If it’s so cheap to sign this guy then why didn’t his team want to keep him? I know most fans look forward to free agency, but that is because you are conditioned to do so. After decades of horrific drafting the only way the Jets get any quality is in free agency. The abhorrent Jets Draft classes over the years has made this sort of a rite of passage. It is just sad to realize how miserable our GMs have been with the Jets over the last few decades.

To his credit Joe Douglas has not made the big, huge, awful mistake that every GM over the last 20 years has made. That said, Joe hasn’t wowed us with his free agency acumen either. I could go on with his foibles, but just let us look at his recent moves rationally.

Jets Signings in 2022

Joe Flacco QB $3.5 Million

Tell me why this makes sense. He is old, a statue as a QB. He has professed that he doesn’t want to help a young QB and provides zero mobility in an offense which requires mobility. If the Jets need Joe Flacco to help them win games late in the season they are doomed. This signing is a total waste of money.

Tevin Coleman RB max value of contract $2.3 Million

Coleman’s best years were a few years ago. I was the one who put out articles about him as a Draft steal when he was at Indiana, but that was long ago. He was my special prize then, but now a contract with a $2.3 million max value is an overpay for a guy with little left in the tank. At least it’s not much money for a guy who knows the system. We said the same thing last year, and he delivered 405 total yards and zero TDs. That was after the previous year of 89 total yards and zero TDs. Wouldn’t a late round stab at a RB in the Draft have more upside than this? Get Tyler Goodson from Iowa as a UDFA at $705K. That makes more sense than a washed up guy for $2.3 million.

Braxton Berrios WR/Returner 2 years $12 million

Berrios is one of those feel good stories who are way overvalued. Fans will hate me for this, but these are free agent mistakes. I really like the guy, but he is not worth the contract.

Yes, he made the All Pro team as a returner. Someone has to win that title, and since Billy “White Shoes” Johnson has retired we’ll give it to Berrios. In 48 career games he has 46 total returns and a single TD on a kickoff. Without that TD he has an average of 24.1 yards a return for his career. As a GM you must know that some returners can have 3 TDs in a season and none the rest of their career. As a receiver he averages less than 30 receptions/ 320 yards and 3 TDs per year. So is this worth $6 Million a year? I say no. This Draft is full of receivers who can replace Berrios and be actual threats both as a receiver and returner. Berrios had a good year, but never pay a man after his best year. It’s always a mistake.

Tyler Conklin TE 3 years $21 million

I liked Conklin coming out in the Draft in 2018 as a #2 TE in a receiving role. He is not dynamic. His routes are usually mundane, but he has size with good hands. Yet a contract of $7 million a year for this guy is absurd. I guess we are not drafting a TE this year which is a shame because there are better players with higher upsides than this guy for less money.

C. J. Uzomah TE 3 years $24 million and $15 million guaranteed

Wow we need to look at this. This is called a knee-jerk reaction for a guy who went to the Super Bowl and had a career year. NEVER sign a player to a big contract after a career year. This is a tenet of many a great GM. So we have 79 games played over 7 years with 163 receptions (23 a year) for 1,591 yards which is 227 yards a year. How is that worth $8 milion a year? Joe is losing his mind.

Connor McDermott OT 1 year at the minimum

Who cares? If we need this guy we are doomed.

Laken Tomlinson RG 3 years $40 million contract with $27 million guaranteed with a max value or $41.2 million.

This on face value is a huge overpay as a guard who has struggled in his career. Of late he has played better so I guess the Jets view him as a late bloomer who is hitting his stride at 30. My problem with this is two-fold. One, he is being paid like Zack Martin or more than Joel Bitonio who are both superior players. I understand that the Jets are a sad sack franchise so you have to overpay to get quality.

The other problem I have is there are a boatload of really good guard prospects in the Draft. I would rather have a superior player I could control for the next decade than a guy I will look to replace in 3 years.

Nathan Shepherd DT 1 year $1,085,000 with a $50,000 signing bonus.

Shepherd is a holdover from the Maccagnan mistake. I guess the Jets are hoping that he doesn’t make the team. Let’s hope so as Shepherd was nauseatingly terrible at stopping the run last year. He was much better as a pass rusher, and he still had zero sacks; enough said.

Jacob Martin LB/Edge 3 years $13.5 million with $6 million guaranteed.

Did it really take this much money to sign this guy? I bet you 90% of Jet fans had no idea that this guy was even born let alone in the league for the last 4 years. I must be getting old, but this is $4.5 million a year to a guy who played 700 snaps last year and had a grand total of 23 total tackles and 4 sacks. That means we can look forward to him getting a sack and 5 12 tackles for every 4 games he plays. Hoorah - pay that man $4.5 million. He will be a part-time situational pass rusher. I guess the Jets feel like he is an ascending player. I understand that he had some QB pressures, and he is young. Still, the Texans have like nothing on their roster and they let this kid walk. That to me is a red flag.

D. J. Reed CB 3 years $33 million no other terms have yet to disclosed.

Now this is an actual great signing and well worth the contract. I’m not just saying that because I had signed Reed in my offseason plan...well maybe. Seriously, this is an ascending player who is only 25 years old with his best football in front of him. He will make an enormous difference on the defense the moment he steps onto the field. You could actually say this was an underpay and wonder why the Jets not stick another year of control on the contract (non guaranteed) to make it a 4/year $44 million contract. In three years we will be wondering the same thing. This is how you win in free agency, smart contracts to young players.

Jordan Whitehead S 2 years $14.5 million with $7 million guaranteed

Whitehead is a player who outperformed his Draft status. He developed into a quality safety while with the Bucs. You can thank the Jets former coach Todd Bowles for doing that. Whitehead is not a Pro Bowl talent but he is solid. His contract is acceptable since safeties are always expensive to sign. This will not preclude the Jets from selecting a safety in the Draft which I expect them to do. The Jets also have an out on this contract after one year with just under $3 million in dead cap space. Whitehead is young (only 25 years old) so he has a chance to grow with the Jets if the Jets want to keep him. It’s a good signing.

LaMarcus Joyner DB 1 year $2.6 million with $2.1 million guaranteed.

Joyner is a smart veteran who can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield. He is not the player he once was, but after 30 (he will be 32 this year) no football player other than Tom Brady is. He lasted 11 snaps last year. Let’s just hope he more than doubles that. He is a good veteran presence and should be a coach on the field who can help mentor a rookie if the Jets decide to draft another safety. As long as Joyner is healthy this was a positive use of free agency and a good signing. I thought the same thing last year.

What we didn’t see was Joe bring in an offensive tackle which I guess is a good sign. Joe let Morgan Moses walk in free agency even though he signed for a low amount with the Ravens. I hope Mekhi Becton comes back in full health ready to play. If he doesn’t we are hurting at the tackle position. Also why hasn’t Joe hypnotized some teams GM and traded Chuma Edoga for a 5th round pick?

There you have it, the good, the bad, and the Joe Douglas of free agency. Spending money is easy. We have had GMs who couldn’t spell the word cat if you gave them the C and the A and then told them there was a T somewhere in there, and they were able to spend money like water. Joe fortunately didn’t go crazy. I will give him that.

Now comes the hard part. You can’t build a team through free agency. You do it through the draft, and Joe hasn’t really dazzled us there either. This is the year, though. There are no more excuses. It is either now or, “goodbye my friends,” for Joe. I know if he blows this Draft he will still be around, but he will be a dead man walking. His time will end in the near future. and we will get another genius.

Yet the other possibility could happen. Joe gives me a call then...okay not that. Joe crushes it in this Draft, and the Jets are set up for a run of success. That’s what is going to happen. I can feel it.

That’s what I think.

What do you think?