Joe Douglas

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Becton, Jets, White

In the research that led to the Bills’ new stadium deal in Buffalo, the team acknowledged that they looked at many cities that are “oft-mentioned in NFL circles,” according to Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News.

The Bills organization didn’t specify which cities they researched, but O’Shei’s report lists those often-discussed cities as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, and Louisville. International markets, such as Toronto or London, have also recently entered discussions.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple notes from Jersey:

  • In a post-Draft analysis of the Jets, ESPN’s Rich Cimini discussed the situation surrounding Jets tackle Mekhi Becton. Rumors before the draft were hinting that New York would use one of their two top-ten draft picks to add a tackle to assist them in moving on from Becton, but the Jets instead addressed the cornerback and receiver rooms. Head coach Robert Saleh initially claimed Becton would compete with George Fant for the blindside job, but hinted more recently that Becton may move to the right side of the line. Unfortunately for the Jets, they won’t have an opportunity to see how he fits over there until he reports, as Becton has decided to skip the team’s voluntary workouts. Cimini makes a great point that, since their insurance policy of Morgan Moses departed to Baltimore in free agency, it is crucial that Becton sees success at right tackle.
  • Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated also wrote an analysis of the NFL Draft with a section focusing on the Jets’ historic first round. Breer mentions how, after the Jets were able to land Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the top-ten, Saleh encouraged general manager Joe Douglas to go after Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II should he start to slide down the board. New York turned up the heat after the Eagles moved ahead of the Ravens and Johnson continued to fall, making phone calls to the Texans (at 15), the Commanders (at 16), and the Chargers (at 17). After talking to the Titans, who had moved up to 18 with the A.J. Brown-trade, Douglas knew Tennessee was going to select a wide receiver to fill their new A.J. Brown-shaped hole, but a discussion was made about a potential swap for the Titans’ other first-round pick at 26. Douglas had only one line in the sand: the Jets owned two early second-round picks, and he wanted to keep at least one of them, to eventually draft Iowa State running back Breece Hall. Johnson fell right into their laps at 26, and the Jets had their three Day 1-selections.
  • Unfortunately for the Patriots, Becton won’t be the only AFC East player missing voluntary workouts this month as veteran running back James White is still recovering from the hip injury that ended his 2022 season in a Week 3 loss to the Saints, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. White was quoted at the team’s draft party, saying, “I still have a little while to go (after) a pretty rough injury.” Reiss points out that this is a golden opportunity for running back J.J. Taylor to show he has what it takes to take over White’s role.

Eagles Fire Scouting Director Casey Weidl

The Eagles have fired director of scouting operations Casey Weidl, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The move comes just days after the draft, which was widely regarded as a success for the Eagles.

[RELATED: Perry Signs With Jaguars; Nixes Eagles Deal]

Weidl spent the last two years as the Eagles’ director of scouting operations, but he’s been with the front office for several years. He’s also the brother of Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl and McLane hears that his future is also in question. No matter what, Andy may be moving on anyway — he’s among the candidates to take over for Kevin Colbert as the Steelers’ general manager.

The Eagles have yet to respond to McLane’s report, but it sounds like a scouting shakeup is imminent. Meanwhile, the rest of the front office will spend the coming weeks signing its incoming draft picks:

Jets Willing To Trade No. 10 Pick For D.K. Metcalf?

As one of the teams currently holding not one, but two, top-10 picks in this week’s draft, the Jets are at the heart of the intrigue surrounding Day 1. They have also been aggressive in trying to add to their receiving corps, to no avail so far. The possibility could still exist, though, for them to acquire one of the big-name wideouts they have previously been linked to. 

According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, Jets general manager Joe Douglas remains open to the thought of using the 10th overall pick to make a sizeable trade. It has already been reported that the team is “all-in” on acquiring Deebo Samuel and that their second Day 1 selection is on the table to do so.

As Pauline reports, however, the same is true with regards to D.K. Metcalf. “If Douglas could pry [Metcalf] from the Seattle Seahawks with the 10th pick”, Pauline writes, “he would make that move”. The Jets were named as one of the teams calling Seattle about the 24-year-old’s availability earlier this month. Similar to the 49ers when asked about Samuel, however, the Seahawks have maintained that they are not looking to trade him, prioritizing an extension instead.

New York already made a significant push – in terms of both draft capital to facilitate a trade, and financial commitment on a long-term deal – to try and land Tyreek Hill when it became known he would be on his way out of Kansas City. If they come up short on landing Samuel, they should still be well in range of most, if not all, of this year’s top receiving prospects. Included among those is Jameson Williams, whom the Jets have shown interest in; assuming he recovers from a torn ACL, he has the potential to provide a similar skillset to what Metcalf offers.

New York Jets Notes: Receivers, Mims, Trades, Harris

After losing the team-leader in receptions, Jamison Crowder, to free agency, the Jets have been looking to improve their wide receiver room this offseason. The Jets’ top five receivers’ season totals were within 107 yards of each other. Unfortunately for New York, their top receiver, Elijah Moore, totaled only 538 yards last year, followed by Corey Davis with 492 yards, Keelan Cole with 449 yards, Crowder with 447 yards, and Braxton Berrios with 431 yards. With Cole being a free agent, the Jets return a top-three group of Moore, Davis, and Berrios.

Many suspected that New York would address the position through free agency, but, while they were linked to essentially every available wide receiver, the only move they made was re-signing All-Pro return man Berrios. ESPN’s Rich Cimini posits that this may be a vote of confidence in third-year receiver Denzel Mims. In two years in the league, Mims has caught 31 balls for 490 yards, but Mims has cut his body fat to 8% this season and Jets’ coaches are liking what they’re hearing about the 24-year-old this offseason.

Veteran free agents are still available with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, and even Antonio Brown still sitting on the open market. More likely would be the Jets addressing the position using the 2022 NFL Draft. The Jets have been linked to names like USC’s Drake London and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, but they’ve also expressed interest in trading one of their two top-ten picks for a veteran receiver. According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, Jets general manager Joe Douglas doubled down on that interest, claiming that conversations with other general managers about draft trades have been heating up. Douglas didn’t go into specifics, but, according to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, in response to the news that Deebo Samuel is seeking a trade, Douglas said, “My job is to get the team better. If the opportunity presents itself, we are going to be aggressive.”

One other note concerning the Jets’ new addition to the defense, Marcell Harris:

Latest On Jets’ Decision At No. 4 Overall

Possessing an opportunity to nab two instant starters in this draft, the Jets might not be in lockstep with their two top-10 picks. While the team’s wide receiver pursuit continues to be connected to the No. 10 choice, its No. 4 pick supplies more intrigue.

GM Joe Douglas “loves” North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. Although Douglas could supersede any other staffer’s preference, Vacchiano’s mock draft features Robert Saleh winning a power struggle that concludes with defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux on his way to the Big Apple.

The Jets’ Thibodeaux visit last week involved a grilling on the motivation and personality issues that have affected the Oregon product’s draft stock, Vacchiano adds, noting that the Jets were impressed with the polarizing pass rusher. The Lions have also been connected to Thibodeaux, but the issues that have dinged his stock may be too much for Dan Campbell. The second-year Lions coach is not believed to be high on Thibodeaux, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Gang Green would then be in position, should the Texans pass at No. 3, to stop a potential Thibodeaux freefall.

George Fant‘s emergence lessens the Jets’ O-line need, but Mekhi Becton‘s reliability nosedive has the 2020 first-round pick on unstable ground. The Jets are prepared to try Becton on the right side, and Vacchiano adds Ekwonu may not be a Day 1 starter if selected by the Jets. That would be unusual for a top-five pick and would depend on Becton’s readiness, but this overlap — despite the Jets’ interest in adding an impact tackle — could push the team to spend its top pick on another position.

This could certainly go the other way as well, which would have the Jets using three first-round picks on O-linemen in three years. Hearing Ekwonu connected to the Jets more than anyone else, Breer mocks the tackle to New York. Ekwonu played both tackle and guard with the Wolfpack; this could solve the positional overlap with Becton. Some teams view guard as Ekwonu’s best position, Breer adds.

Carl Lawson‘s ACL tear wounded the Jets’ pass rush before last season started, and Saleh’s first Jets defense ranked last. Although Lawson is set to return, the Jets still have a need on the edge. The team has famously struggled to address its edge position since 2006’s John Abraham trade. No Jet edge defender registered more than two sacks last season.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Jets Will Pick Up Quinnen Williams’ Fifth Year Option

When speaking to the media at the NFL Combine, Jets general manager Joe Douglas confirmed a decision many felt was inevitable. The team will pick up the fifth year option on Quinnen Williams‘ contract (video link). 

We are going to pick up pick up Quinnen’s option”, Douglas said. “We had that conversation. I don’t think that’s really huge news… We’re excited to have Quinnen. This is going to be year two in a defense that we feel really accentuates his strengths… We’re looking forward for him to come back and dominate this offseason”.

It was reported late in the 2021 regular season that the Jets weren’t in a hurry to give the 24-year-old an extension when he first became eligible. That left the door open to the team letting him play out the last two years of his rookie deal, which would keep him in New York through at least the 2023 campaign. Franchise tags could extend that by two more years, of course, though a new deal would presumably be in place by then.

The third overall pick in 2019, Williams’ production this past year was closer to his second, most effective one than his rookie campaign. In 15 games, he compiled 53 tackles, including seven for a loss, along with six sacks and three pass deflections. Over the past two seasons, his 13 total sacks rank second in the league amongst interior linemen, demonstrating the disruptive presence he was touted to be coming out of college.

With Williams in place for at least another two years, the Jets can move forward this offseason looking to build around him in an attempt to upgrade the league’s worst statistical defense from last season.

 

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Cunningham, McCourty, Dolphins

The Jets wasted no time in 2019 when wide receiver Braxton Berrios was waived by the Patriots just prior to the 2019 NFL season. The fourth-year player from the University of Miami was tabbed early in his Jets’ tenure as Jamison Crowder‘s back up in the slot, but Rich Cimini, of ESPN, details how Berrios’s effectiveness running and returning the ball could net him a bigger contract than his fellow slot receivers.

The first-team All Pro return man hits free agency this offseason and it’ll be interesting to see how those talks play out.

Here are a few more notes on the AFC East, starting with another item out of the Tri-State area:

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has recognized the Eagles’ director of player personnel, Ian Cunningham, as a potential future general manager. The Jets, specifically, have tried twice to bring him on, as he and Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas are both products of the Ozzie Newsome tree from their time with the Ravens.
  • As the Patriots’ season came to an end with last night’s blow out loss to the Bills, ESPN’s Mike Reiss brings forth the question of Devin McCourty‘s future. The New England mainstay has been a lynchpin of the Patriots’ defense for 12 years. But, at age 34 with an expiring contract, what does the future hold for the Boston-based twin.
  • Cornerback Xavien Howard put enough pressure on the Dolphins in August that they restructured his contract with a few rewarding incentives. Howard made sure to cash out. Howard added to his salary $1MM for making the Pro Bowl and another $1MM for playing at least 90% of Miami’s defensive snaps. Barry Jackson, of the Miami Herald, details the situation in his Sports Buzz column.

HC Robert Saleh: Jets Aren’t Planning “Fire Sale”

When the Jets were struggling last year, general manager Joe Douglas was quick to sell off veterans for future picks. While the 2021 version of the team sits at only 1-5, it doesn’t sound like the Jets are planning on selling again this year. While head coach Robert Saleh wasn’t around last season, he told reporters today that he isn’t anticipating a fire sale, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic (via Twitter).

“If it’s something that will help us, great,” Saleh said (via Al Iannazzone of Newsday.com). “If it’s not, great. We’ll stay pat. Forcing things is not Joe’s forte. He’s very deliberate. He communicates with us all the time. I love the way he goes about his business. I love his process. I’m with Joe.”

The Jets have the youngest roster in the NFL, so it’s not like the team has a surplus of veterans that they could sell off for future pieces. Last year, the team traded the likes of Steve McLendon, Avery Williamson, and Jordan Willis, but we’re unlikely to see a repeat in 2021.

“If it’s something that’s going to help us awesome,” Saleh said. “But I also know we’re not looking for a fire sale either.”

While Marcus Maye previously made sense as a trade candidate (considering the contentious negotiations this summer), the safety said that he hasn’t requested a trade out of New York. Following Zach Wilson‘s injury, the Jets actually made a move to add to their roster earlier this week when they acquired Joe Flacco from the Eagles.

Jets Owner Endorses GM Joe Douglas, HC Robert Saleh

The Jets hit another low this past Sunday. Not only did they get blown out by their divisional rival, but they also lost rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for the next few weeks. While no one in New York is happy with the team’s 1-5 record, owner Woody Johnson told reporters that he continues to have faith in general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh.

“I’ve been around for, this is going on 22 years, with my little absence that I had recently, and this is a good group,” Johnson said (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini). “We will get it right. Last week, you know, [was] frustrating, but now we turn the page and we’re off to the Bengals.”

The Jets have struggled during Douglas’s two-plus seasons in New York, but he’s also put together the league’s youngest roster and has a clear vision for the future. This is Saleh’s first season at the helm, and even if the Jets finish with one of the worst records in the league, there’s practically no chance the team moves on from their head coach.

“Just talking to the leadership — Joe, Robert, and seeing how their plans are put together,” Johnson said. “How they’re deep thinkers, they want to do things like establish a culture and they’re getting the right players in the right positions.

“It’s just a very young team with a young quarterback. He’s 22 years old, he just turned 22. So he’s seeing things for the first time like a lot of the quarterbacks now, a lot of the young quarterbacks. It’s going to take him a little bit of time, but I have a lot of confidence in Zach, too.”