Joe Douglas: Jets will rebuild through NFL Draft, not free agency

Despite having one of the largest salary cap spaces in the NFL heading into free agency, the New York Jets are still going to emphasize the upcoming NFL Draft for their roster rebuild.

In what will be his second full offseason with the Jets, general manager Joe Douglas said this week that he wants his team’s roster to be built around the draft. The Jets, 2-14 a season ago, are clearly in the throws of blowing up their roster, a process that began last year and whose effects bore out on the field in what was a shockingly bad season.

Joe Douglas looking towards building Jets through NFL Draft

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Douglas has a draft-centric approach, given that he was mentored by former Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. But given that the Jets could have upwards of $80 million in salary cap space this offseason after the release of Henry Anderson, Douglas still needed to reiterate his focus on team-building is through the draft and using free agency to augment this talent.

“I would say, obviously, we’re better positioned than we were this time last year. I would say that our philosophy and stance has not changed, however,” Douglas said in a media call.

“I think our goal and our plan is to be, like I said earlier, a team that really builds this through the draft and hitting on draft picks, obviously using free agency to supplement our roster. If the opportunity and the value meet, that’s going to be the point where we’re going to be aggressive and get someone that we feel good about, helping this team not only on the field, but with the culture and inside the building. While we are positioned better, I think our philosophy has stayed the same.”

Where are team needs for Jets?

The Jets, after last year’s disastrous season that saw head coach Adam Gase fired after Week 17, have holes up and down their two-deep. Issues at quarterback, namely what to do with Sam Darnold, persist and will dominate the offseason.

So too will glaring issues at guard and right tackle. There is a lack of high-end talent at wide receiver not to mention running back and tight end. Interior defensive linemen are needed for the switch to new head coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense. Linebacker play was inconsistent last year. The cornerbacks were exposed in 2020.

But other than that, no major issues to address.

It will be a lot for Douglas, who figures to be one of the most active general managers in the NFL when teams can begin negotiations on March 15.

“What are we, a little less than 60 days away from the draft? There’s a lot of pro days, a lot more information to gather before we even start narrowing into any kind of decision like that,” Douglas said.

“As it pertains to this year’s draft, we feel good about the depth of this draft. Again, it’s early. As I said, it’s only March 3. A lot of time to go, a lot of workouts to happen, a lot of conversations to have with players and sources. We feel good about the depth throughout the draft, and we feel good about where we are with draft picks.”