Grading Joe Douglas: A look at how the New York Jets GM has done in free agency
Free agency has started with a flurry of moves for the New York Jets, mainly focused on rebuilding their offensive line and adding cornerbacks to their secondary.
With general manager Joe Douglas in charge for his first full offseason, the philosophy has emerged this offseason that he is looking to add quality and improvement across the board, not merely targeting one or two high-priced salary players.
Grading Douglas’ first free agent class to date with a look first at the offense:
The Jets began the off-season in search of a backup quarterback. As March comes to an end, that search is still ongoing. New York has been rumored to be interested in a few high profile signal-callers as Joe Flacco was let go by the Denver Broncos on a medical release. Then there is Jamies Winston, released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even before they signed Tom Brady.
The Jets will add a quarterback before training camp as they need a quality No. 2 and a mentor for Sam Darnold. Winston isn't feasible or even ideal in this scenario so it could be a Flacco type backup. This grade has to be incomplete for now.
The Jets made offensive line their priority out of the gate when the legal tampering period began. The first signing of free agency for Douglas was former Seattle Seahawks backup tackle George Fant. It turned heads because of the three-year $23.7 million price tag, with $13.7 million guaranteed.
Days later, the Jets signed center Connor McGovern formerly of the Denver Broncos. That’s marked the Jets’ biggest and best signing in free agency so far. Then guard Alex Lewis also re-signed and Greg Van Roten also signed in the second wave of free agency.
All in all, the Jets clearly upgraded. Fant is a question mar, and that’s the main reason why this grade isn’t higher than a B+. George Fant will have a bullseye from coaches and fans once he gets to Florham Park. Perhaps he is ready to step up into a prominent role with the Jets.
The Jets haven’t yet targeted a running back during the free agency period. Le’Veon Bell returns and the Jets are hopeful that he will return to the form he had before he sat out a season in Pittsburgh after being Franchised. Last season, the two-time All-Pro rushed for 789 yards, including three touchdowns, on 245 carries, well below expectations.
After spending big on Bell last year, the Jets likely will look to add at least one more running back to their backfield ahead of training camp. They need the depth.
Trevon Wesco, Trenton Cannon, and Kenneth Dixon all return. Bell’s 2020 season is directly connected to the offensive line moves, of which there were many. The draft might spell the Jets solution here for depth behind Bell.
The Jets went into this free agency period hoping to re-sign Robby Anderson. Once that didn’t happen, Douglas signed Breshad Perriman to a one-year deal worth $8 million ($6 million guaranteed). Perriman was cheaper than Anderson, but he also hasn’t produced like the former Jet.
Perriman has ties to Joe Douglas from their days in Baltimore and while his career has underwhelmed a bit, he does have upside
But signing Perriman is solid value and low-risk. The Jets will need to add a wide receiver in the NFL Draft, however, likely by Day 2.