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The 2023 New York Jets offseason: Is this what “all in” is supposed to look like?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas was hired in 2019 and ran his first offseason in 2020. Since Joe Douglas has truly controlled the roster (2020), the Jets have 13-37, a mark that is hardly enviable. However, things seem to be getting better as the Jets have the two reigning rookies of the year, a (supposedly) incoming quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and are coming off a 7 win season led by a great defense.

Things are looking up, at least they’re supposed to be. But are they?

Let’s recap the offseason, starting with the big one:

We’re apparently getting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Aaron is a first ballot Hall of Famer and deserves all of his roses. However, he’s also 40 and has threatened to retire every year for what feels like the last 5, so this isn’t what one would call a “long term plan.” He also comes with dead cap hits that are pretty sizable in the years following his retirement that we’ll likely get stuck with, so acquiring him puts a large “ding” on any Super Bowl parade plans in the years that follow. But, hey, I get it. We’ve stunk for a LONG time, so get Aaron who is a year removed from back-to-back MVPs and go all in. Is it what I’d do? Probably not, but I get it.

So we’re going all in then, right, Joe Douglas? That seems like the logical thing to do if we’re getting Rodgers.

Well, as far as I can tell, the answer to that is no; the moves we’ve made say otherwise. Let’s recap those:

  • We resigned linebacker Quincy Williams, who is a perfectly fine but limited linebacker.
  • We added Chuck Clark to play safety. Again, he’s fine. Not what most would call a difference maker but he’s better than what we had so that’s cool.
  • We pushed some dead money down the road with some guys that weren’t particularly great in 2022 like tight ends CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin and guard Laken Tomlinson who now have more dead in money in future years then they originally would have. We also did the same type of moves with cornerback DJ Reed and defensive lineman John Franklin Myers, who are a bit more likely to stick around.
  • Then free agency came and we added wide receiver Allen Lazard. Lazard is fine. He’s coming off a really respectable season that saw him put up 788 yards. Does a guy like Lazard move the needle though? Not really, especially when he’s staying with the same Hall of Fame QB that he’s always had so we can’t even give him the “With a better QB he’ll be better” bump.
  • Then we went and traded wide receiver Elijah Moore for what amounted to a day 3 pick. A fall of grace for a guy who we could easily argue has far more upside as a pass catcher in a passing league. Would he have worked out? Probably not, but in a “win now” season is he less likely to help the cause than a 4th round pick?
  • Then we replaced Elijah Moore with wide receiver Mecole Hardman. Hardman’s fine. Is he better than Braxton Berrios by a meaningful amount? To be determined, but it’s tough to project a guy to get better while leaving quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense, and his numbers aren’t all that much better than what Braxton provided in 2021.

And then what did we do?

  • We added an okay defensive tackle and a punter.
  • We whiffed on defensive tackle Calais Campbell over money.
  • We whiffed on wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who then went on to sign a contract with void years that’ll probably land his deal at like 4 million dollars a year more expensive than Hardman’s in a league where the cap increases every year and would’ve easily covered the gap in the contracts.

And are we actually better at any position but quarterback compared to where we started the offseason?

Safety? Sure. I’ll give you safety.

Anywhere else?

I get that quarterback is the most important spot on the field but are we really opting to operate like this team was so close to greatness that they were ONLY a quarterback away?

Just seems foolish to me. If you’re going to opt in to deal with the fallout that will come with the Rodgers retirement then where is the urgency to maximize the window that having him provides? If it’s present then I’m sure not seeing it.

So, Mr. Douglas, all of this to say... please tell me you have something else up your sleeve because a Wild Card berth and then a good little playoff stomping in our 18th game really isn’t going to leave me wowed.