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What’s Left For Joe Douglas To Do?

Tweaking the roster before training camp

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets head off into the NFL dead period where everyone gets away from football for a month or so to get some down time before they report to training camp. The NFL season is a long, arduous campaign that tests the mind and body. It is nearly a necessity to break away from the constant grind to recharge the mental/physical batteries before the start of training camp.

If you remember it was this time of the year that Rex Ryan famously went to Pamplona Spain to run with the Bulls in his time off.

Rex didn’t so much run with the bulls; he more ran away like a scared kitten before the bulls arrived. You can see him here trying to push people out of his way in terror as the bulls were still in the distance. Rex did have a front row seat of others running with the bulls; that’s about as close as he got.

So what does Joe Douglas have left to do?

Just because the players are getting some R+R it doesn’t mean that Joe Douglas can do the same. For Joe D the season is a 24/7/365 deal as the leader of the front office. That doesn’t mean he is sweating over his computer in his office for 20 hours a day, but he has to have a plan if he wants to achieve his goals. He needs to be in contact with certain players (and their agents) he has an interest in possibly signing. The Jets are a little short in some areas and there are contracts that he has to make decisions on. Nothing is so urgent that he needs to make decisions this week but he has to be aware of where he can make the roster better.

This process of decision making has to be done at the end of the season, then again after the NFL draft and free agency period. The front office needs to self-scout their own team with vigor in order to find where the weaknesses lie. You have to be honest with yourself about the team, you can’t be biased about a player you drafted and has underperformed. Joe should have a list of free agent players at every position with a good idea of their salary demands. He should also have a list of players that could be moved off the existing roster for various reasons, and players who could come available that he may have an interest in. The list will be long but the eventual possibilities will be short. Most of those players will either stay with their teams, be traded, have no interest in joining the Jets or their salary demands will be out of reach. He must also know the personality of the player; how will he fit into the Jets locker room culture? These are all very serious concerns that need to be explored exhaustively.

All of this and much more must be done now. Once training camp starts players who are waiting on situations will start to find teams. The player pool will dry up; most players want to know they will have a contract this year. The lifespan of an NFL player is short for the majority of players. You have to make your money when you can. You can be a former NFL player at any time unless you have elite talent.

For the most part once the season begins and replacements are needed due to injuries the quality drops precipitously. This is why solid depth is needed at all positions because you will have injuries.

What contracts need to be addressed?

The 13,000 lbs elephant in the room is the contract situation of Quinnen Williams, who was an All-Pro in 2022. This is a tricky circumstance since Williams is still under contract at over $9.5 million in 2023 so he is not worried about buying groceries. Yet he is an All-Pro and wants to be paid like an All-Pro.

There are two ways of looking at this situation.

First Williams is being paid very well in 2023 no doubt. His 2022 season was an All-Pro season but it’s the first time he was dominant. He still had the same amount of tackles as the last three years, but Williams had more sacks (12), TFL (12), and he nearly doubled his career QB hits (28) in 2022. That coincided with a much improved Sheldon Rankins next to him, which helped immensely. Will Quinnen be as dominant with Quinton Jefferson next to him now that Rankins is in Houston?

The Jets have massive problems with the salary cap with the addition of Aaron Rodgers so they don’t have a lot of cash to spread around. They could simply let Williams play this season on his more than equitable contract then franchise tag him in 2024 to save money. Even then they will have to do some salary cap magic to make next year possible without gutting the team.


The Jets could look at Williams as a player who they selected correctly, then developed. He has done all the right things (lately) to make the team look better. They could reward him a massive contract to show their players that excellence will be rewarded. Williams seems to be an amiable guy who the players like. If you reward him it does great things for team morale. It’s not like the Jets are re-signing many players to huge contracts, those seem to go to players from other teams who the Jets covet. It sends a message that if you work hard & excel then you will be rewarded. It shows the locker room that if you produce on the field the team will respond favorably; that has not always been the case with the Jets. I would like to see a time where teams are looking to sign the Jets free agents instead of the Jets always looking for players from other teams. Doing so is expensive which makes it more difficult to build your team.

If you look at the top four salary cap hits this season they belong to players from other teams. You have CJ Mosley, Duane Brown, Corey Davis (why does he still have this contract?) and Laken Tomlinson who have cap hits in 2023 of over $11 million. None of these guys are Jet draft picks, they were brought in as free agents.

The Jets are going to be in trouble with their salary cap no matter what. They have players who will need to be paid coming up in the future so every dollar you can save is important. What is also important is how players look at management in their contract situations. You want to show the players that if you put in the time, the effort and it shows on the field you are doing so for the Jets rather than another team who could sign you as a free agent.

Personally I prefer signing players rather than letting them walk or having a locker room problem for the haves and the have nots. The Jets with solid drafts and sound fiscal policy can manage this situation if they are intelligent.

There are a number of players contracts who the Jets could look at with an eye to save some capital.

Bryce Huff DE

Huff is a favorite of mine, the guy is always productive. Yet he is what he is: a situational pass rusher. He is buried behind JFM, Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, Will MacDonald (hopefully) and Micheal Clemons. Huff is due an inexpensive $4.3 million in 2023 but could bring a late 2nd or 3rd round pick if traded. Although I would hate to lose Huff I would welcome some draft capital in the 2024 NFL draft and the cap savings. Huff will be a UFA next year so the Jets will get nothing for him unless he signs for huge money. You can’t keep everybody.

Bryce Hall CB

It’s nothing against the guys named Bryce but Hall is set to earn $2,743,000 in 2023 but he is buried on the depth charts. He was a nice find out of Virginia in the late rounds but the Jets may be better served if they could get a 4th round pick for Hall. Cornerbacks are hard to find and Hall could be an asset to another team, for a price. The Jets have rookie Jarrick Bernard-Converse waiting in the wings.

Ashtyn Davis FS

The Ashtyn Davis experiment has run its course as his $2,743,000 salary isn’t worth his position on the team. Davis has had every chance to win a starting position but has not done so. The Jets brought in Chuck Clark to play one safety position but when he was injured the Jets had to bring in another player (Adrian Amos) to take his place. This should tell you how the Jets feel about Davis. The only thing keeping Davis here is the lack of depth. Tony Adams is still raw and Trey Dean is a strong safety rookie. Davis would be a cut since the Jets would be lucky to get a 7th round pick for him.

These three players save about $10 million in cap space that can be used somewhere else. I have nothing against any of these players but you have to make tough decisions when it comes to the salary cap. Also that money can be spent on other players who would contribute something more than as a special teamer. These are not moves that have to be made but they make sense in a number of ways.

Corey Davis WR

I am coming to the conclusion that Corey Davis is not going anywhere despite the fact he has a total of 66 receptions for 1,028 yards and 6 TDs in TWO seasons. He has a $11,166,668 cap hit this year. If the Jets were to cut him they save $10.5 Million in cap space. Davis would not find a contract in the open market 14 that size at this time of year. On the ESPN unofficial depth chart he is listed as a backup to Garrett Wilson. Obviously Aaron Rodgers will have more continuity with Allen Lazard than Davis. Also Davis does not play in the slot so he is not going to be on the field much in 11 personnel groupings. The Jets need to reduce the Davis salary by 60 to 70% to make it come in line with his production. Saving 5 to 6 million dollars in cap space would make his roster spot more palatable.

So who can the Jets bring in to help the situation?

It’s not like the Jets are searching for players; they have a solid squad but could use some specific individuals who could make the Jets great. Yet there are two positions where the Jets could use an infusion of talent.


Jordan Whitehead 26 years old

The Jets have Jordan Whitehead as a strong safety. The Jets renegotiated his contract so he is due a guaranteed $4,932,500 this season. Whitehead will be out there every game he is healthy. Whitehead is a player you start but look to replace at sometime with someone more athletic. His knowledge of the system means he will be a starting safety for at least part of this year but he may lose snaps later in the year if the Jets find someone better.

Tony Adams 24 years old

I would not be surprised to find Tony Adams as the starting free safety in the early season. Adams has a year in the system (he was a UDFA signee) but has a near elite skill set for the position. Adams can be a free safety with sideline to sideline coverage or play as a deep safety or big nickel. He has so many uses it’s difficult to keep him off the field. His athletic ability is off the charts with a RAS score of 9.76 out of 10. He also has solid length with 31” arms along with a quick first step.

Adams is a little small at 5’ 11 1/2” and 213 lbs although he may have beefed up in the offseason. He has excellent lateral agility, a vertical of 41 1/2”, a broad jump of 132.0” and 4.47 speed in the 40. He would make a great free safety as long as his instincts are solid.

It would be interesting to know what the Jets think of Adams as a player. After a year in the system he can be used a lot in the preseason to gauge where he is as a safety.

Adrian Amos 30 years old

The Jets added Adrian Amos after Chuck Clark injured his knee. Amos has $1.75 million guaranteed so he is probably going nowhere. He has the speed to play deep safety with 4.39/40 speed. Amos is a smart veteran who can be a solid contributor on the defense. This was a solid get after the injury to Chuck Clark. Amos and Adams will be working out for the free safety position. He can also work as a player who can cover TEs and RBs in the flat. Amos could have multiple roles on the defense. He is a veteran who knows his responsibilities. He may not have great instincts but he is solid.

So who could the Jets bring in?

John Johnson 27 years old

Johnson signed a huge contract with Cleveland and may need to salvage his career with a prove it contract after being released.

The problem with Johnson is he is a physical player who signed with Cleveland as a free safety which he is not. He is supremely athletic but he is not fast (4.61/40) but was asked to play as a deep safety. Johnson has a skill set of a box safety where he can use his size and length (32.0” arms) to his advantage. Johnson could rule as a box safety/linebacker in passing situations. Johnson had over 100 tackles in 2022 with 4 TFL. He also has 12 INTs in 6 years despite not being a traditional coverage player. Johnson is still young so the Jets could make him their starting strong safety for the next 3-4 years if they could workout a contract with him. As the year moves closer to starting Johnson may be looking to get on a team to show his physical prowess with a prove it contract. He could move into Whiteheads position as a strong safety in 2024 with a year in the system.

A starting pairing of Adams and Johnson would make the safety position a very solid group in 2024 if those players developed together.


The rest of the Safety group to choose from is poor. There are some players from the past who had value at one time but are in the twilight of their careers.

You have Daniel Sorensen who played with Kansas City and most recently New Orleans but is 33 and his coverage was poor for the most part. I am not a fan.

You have DeAndre Houston-Carson who is 30 and played 7 seasons in Chicago. He amassed a total of 139 total tackles with 3 INTs in 94 career games.

You have Tony Jefferson who has been around since 2013 but is now just a sub package player or a replacement level starter. He could save the Jets some money because of the NFL veteran salary benefit but if the Jets sign Jefferson they are hurting for players.


The Jets are set at two LB positions with CJ Mosley in the middle along with Quincy Williams as the SAM LB. Yet if the Jets started today they would have Jamien Sherwood as their WILL. Sherwood has great length (34” arms) which is why the Jets drafted him. He is a tough kid for his size (216 lbs) but he is too slow to be a run and hit OLB with 4.76/40 speed. He also has a slow first step which makes him late to the edge. The Jets look at him as more of a hybrid SS type player but they can do better. Sherwood has a ceiling of a backup.

The Jets need another starting level linebacker for their weakside LB position. The Jets signed Kwon Alexander last year late in the offseason to man that spot. The reviews on Alexander were mixed as he made 69 total tackles but also missed 9 tackles. He was also poor in coverage while allowing a 96.2 QB rating into his coverage. He made a glaring miscue against the Patriots when he allowed his man to be wide open for a huge gain on 3rd down. The soon to be 30 year old Alexander made $1,272,500 last year and is said to be holding out for a larger salary this year. If he signs it will be just before training camp opens in July.

I have been lobbying for the Jets to sign Rashaan Evans who played in Atlanta last year. He played for only $1,750,000 and made 159 tackles last year. He is only 27 years old with better speed than Alexander.

He is 6’ 1 7/8” and 235 lbs with good lateral agility. He is a smart player, has been an ILB so he could move inside without hesitation if there was an injury. Evans has started every game in three of the last four years so he is also durable. He gives the Jets a much higher ceiling than any other player available. They could also (if they like what they see) move him over to the middle in 2024 if the Jets need to make some cap room by releasing CJ Mosley and save $17 million in cap space. He would have a year in the system so he could make the move near seamlessly.

Others available:

Deion Jones was once a star in Atlanta but he took a beating playing inside at his size so injuries have taken their toll. He made over 100 tackles every year in Atlanta except for his 2018 campaign when he had a serious foot injury. He played in 11 games (5 starts) in Cleveland in 2022 after coming off IR for a shoulder injury and made 44 total tackles. Jones will be 29 this year but after 7 tough season he is not the player he once was.

Nick Vigil was once an above average player but the soon to be 30 year old has had some injury problems as well. He played in only 4 games in Arizona in 2022 because of a hamstring injury. While he is a solid player the Jets can do better.

Myles Jack was a Jacksonville ILB for 6 seasons, making 90 or more tackles in 4 of his 6 seasons. He signed with Pittsburgh in 2022. He played in 15 games (13 starts) and made 104 tackles. The Steelers let him go this offseason to save $8 million in cap space. The Jets could do a lot worse than the soon to be 28 year old Jack, he would be a solid signing IF he would play for 1/4th of what he made in 2022. I don’t see that happening.

There are a host of other candidates who have been around for a while like Zach Cunningham (who is too slow), Damien Wilson (who had law troubles) and Anthony Barr (who can pound sand) but offer little upside.


The Jets have a few moves to make but there is still room for improvement across the roster. They have an opportunity to bring in some players, especially on the defense, who can make a difference. Injuries in training camp may determine what moves the Jets make. Each move must be cost effective because of the pending salary cap situation in 2024. For the first time in a while the roster just needs some tweaking, not a total overhaul.

That’s what I think.

What do you think?