2023 Pre-Draft Press Conference, 4.25
[please click photo for link to the video]
Joe Douglas: Thanks for coming. As excited as we all are, last week was a tough week for our football family. Just want to talk about it, give our condolences, our love and support to two families within our family here at One Jets Drive. We lost a great teammate in Matt Capogrosso. He was an unbelievable teammate, humble, hardworking, selfless, a great person, and largely responsible for our scouting system, which I feel is one of, if not the best, in the National Football League, so our love, support, condolences goes out to his family, his beautiful wife, Courtney, his twins. Also, want to pour out our condolences, our love to Brian Friedman and his wife, Diane, who tragically lost their son. We love them, support them with anything, any issues they have going forward and just wanted to tell them, ‘We love you and we got your back through everything.’ On that note, I’ll just open it up to you guys and we can get going.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Joe, obviously a little bit of news yesterday. I’m wondering if you can talk about the trade, how it came together and your thoughts?
JD: Obviously, a long time in the making and I’ll piggy back a little bit on what Brian (Gutekunst) said yesterday. There’s still some i’s to be dotted, t’s to be crossed to ultimately finalize everything, but again, it was a lot of conversations with Brian. Again, a ton of respect for Brian, I’ve known Brian for well over 20 years and I can’t thank him enough for the open dialogue that we’ve had and ultimately being able to get what we feel is a historic trade for this franchise.
Connor Hughes, SNY: What led you guys to Aaron (Rodgers)? Because there were a number of different quarterbacks you could have pursued this offseason, so what made him stick out above the rest?
JD: I mean obviously, Aaron is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play this game. To have an opportunity to add a player of that caliber, you’re always going to look into it and how it fits within our culture, within our team and obviously, it goes back to something I said to you guys in Phoenix, it’s a real credit to Robert (Saleh), his staff and what he’s been able to implement with our players and with everyone here, that a player of Aaron’s caliber would even want to come here. We’re all excited to add someone of his character and his ability.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, has Aaron given you any indication that he’ll play beyond 2023?
JD: Look, I don’t want to put any words in Aaron’s mouth and you guys are going to have the opportunity at the right time to ask him those specific questions, but we’re obviously excited about this opportunity, excited about this deal and excited to add him to the team.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Joe, what was the reaction around the building, Robert (Saleh), ownership, when it finally was agreed upon?
JD: Obviously, excitement, obviously, a lot of joy. I can speak to upstairs where we were with football operations and all the scouts, all the coaches, there were some high fives and hugs and a lot of excitement.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Joe, what are your expectations now for this football team now that you brought in Rodgers?
JD: Obviously, adding a player of his caliber is a big thing, but ultimately, we still have a lot of work to do to get to where we need to go. The biggest thing in front of us right now is this year’s draft and it’s a great opportunity to add young dynamic play makers to this roster. Again, it’s been unbelievable seeing the work that’s been going on out here with our players coming together and showing up, getting together with these voluntary workouts. You can feel a lot of positive energy in the building.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Joe, Green Bay had kind of a down year, for like Aaron Rodgers standards, still a pretty good year I think by anyone else, but what makes you think, for your scouting process of Aaron, what makes you believe that he still is a guy who is a top five, top 10, maybe top three quarterback in the NFL?
JD: Well, obviously, he’s not very far removed from back-to-back MVP’s. You still have someone that maybe didn’t play at 100 percent throughout the year, but still performed at a high level. Obviously, he’s going to be able to come in here and his relationship with Nathaniel (Hackett), his relationship with some of the other players that are on the team. Obviously it’s an adjustment when you’re somewhere for 18 years, but we feel like with the people that we have in place, he can get comfortable quickly.
Judy Battista, NFL Network: Do you expect him to be part of the offseason program and OTA’s going forward?
JD: I’d say I wouldn’t want to put any words into Aaron’s mouth as we know all of these workouts right now, this time of year are voluntary. Again, at the right time, you guys will be able to talk to him about that.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: A significant compensation package you’re sending to Green Bay, I mean probably will be a number one next year, you’re hoping that he plays that much. Some risk involved if he only plays a year, could you just walk us through the risk management there and why you felt it was good to give up that much?
JD: We’re comfortable with how this deal shaped and any negotiation, I don’t think anyone ever walks away from a negotiation where you feel like you won everything in terms of what’s gone back and forth. Ultimately, our goal from the beginning was to add Aaron to the team and we were able to get that, agreed to terms to that yesterday and just excited to get him here ASAP.
Connor Hughes, SNY: What is it that you guys believed that you guys were going to get him because you have the trip out to California that you guys went on? I mean, was there a point where it was like, ‘Oh, this is an option,’ to ‘No, this a realistic possibility we are going to get him?’
JD: You never want to get too far ahead of yourself. So, you felt honored back a few weeks ago when he said he wanted to be a New York Jet. You felt honored and you felt good that, like what I said a few minutes ago about what Robert’s been able to do here, that a player like Aaron Rodgers wants to be here, but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. It’s not done until it’s done and again, guys, we still have to officially, officially cross the finish line here, but obviously, we’ve agreed to the terms, so we’re all excited.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Joe, was there ever a point that you were thinking you might have to turn to a Plan B or did you always believe this was going to happen?
JD: We felt no different than when we talked in Arizona. We felt really good with our plan moving forward and we did feel good about our plan involving Aaron.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Joe, when you add somebody of Aaron Rodgers’ caliber, his notoriety, obviously there is going to be more attention on this team on more national TV, prime time games. How ready do you think, you have a lot of young players, a lot of guys that played big roles as rookies last year, how ready do you think this group is to handle that added attention, added pressure, all of that?
JD: You’re right, Zach, there is quite a few young, talented, exciting players on this roster. They are first, second, third year players, so I feel like the way we jumped out last year, a lot of those young men proved that they were ready to answer the call. Obviously, I talked about it in Phoenix, no one’s happy with the way we finished last year, so to see the group of guys that are out there right now working and gelling together, it’s very apparent that they’re not satisfied with the way the season ended last year, either. It’s good to see these guys out here and I know it’s cliche, but day-by-day we’re just trying to stack those bricks.
Mike Garafolo, NFL Network: Joe, I know you made this deal for Aaron and getting him in, but was there any consideration to what it could mean for Zach (Wilson)? They seem to have a great relationship already, do we have any indication that Aaron wants to mentor Zach?
JD: Yeah, I feel like this is going to be a great thing for Zach. I spoke to you guys at the Combine and Zach’s ceiling is unlimited and no one works harder, no one loves ball more than Zach Wilson. Him having the opportunity to really shadow and be with a First Ballot Hall of Fame quarterback every day, every hour he’s in the building, that’s a great opportunity and a great experience.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Joe, how do you follow up with last year’s Draft because obviously you accumulated a lot of talent, you had the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year. Can you talk about what you see from this year’s draft?
JD: Yeah, last year’s draft was a real credit to our scouting staff, our coaching staff being able to get on the same page. Rex does a phenomenal job heading up our scouting department and that’s a real credit to everyone working together and a credit to the players. Those guys last year came in with a mindset, the mentality, the competitive drive. Great people, great teammates and they were able to make a big mark, but last year’s draft is last year, so our focus is moving forward and we appreciate everything that happened last year, but we know that we have a big challenge coming up in a few days, we have to keep adding the right type of character to this team.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: To follow up on that, just the offensive line, how would you asses the guys that are available?
RH: Yeah, not specifically to any players, but it’s a solid group with some of the guys who have been projected up in not only the first round, but throughout the draft, so there’s a good volume of players throughout.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, when you first got here, going off of the offensive line, one of the first things you said here was we’re going to address the offensive line, defensive lines, where do you think you guys are offensive line wise right now?
JD: You’re right and it’s never going to stop being that way here. I think we have a really good culture in place on this team and there is a standard in terms of the effort, strain and violence that our line needs to play with and we’re going to take every opportunity that we can to add those type of players when they become available. I don’t think I’m ever going to sit here and tell you, Brian that I am satisfied with where we are on the offensive or defensive line. I don’t think I’m ever going to say that to you because I feel like we’re always going to be able to get a little better, but it’s always going to be a strong focus for us.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What are the final steps to get across the finish line with the Rodgers trade? I’m assuming he’s coming in today for his physical and some contract work, maybe you could just outline what needs to get done for it to be officially official?
JD: Look, we’re still working through some details and again, I’m just going to piggy back what Brian said. There’s a few things that need to get worked at, ironed out, but we’ll have that information for you guys in due time.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, a little bit on that same note though, when Aaron was still with the Packers, he signed a legitimate contract extension there, which you guys have now inherited with the trade. Has Aaron been open with your discussions with him to re-working that contract potentially to make it a little more team-friendly?
JD: Yeah, there’s been some positive discussions with Dave (Dunn). Again, I’m not going to get into any specifics about the details on that. That’s going to come out when everything is finalized, but there’s going to be a forum to discuss that in the future.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: What do you think Aaron can mean to a guy like Garrett Wilson and some of your young guys like Breece (Hall) and some of the other guys?
JD: I think anytime you add a player of Aaron’s caliber, it’s going to raise the level of everyone. There’s going to be a standard that needs to be met, so I feel like from the beginning when it started hitting the internet about it being a possibility, I think everybody’s antennas went up, the intent, the focus, I think everybody is going to answer the bell when it comes to meeting that standard. It’s going to be great to have these first, second, third year players around Aaron and around a lot of the vets who have had success in the League.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Hey Rex, you had a front row seat for Aaron Rodgers being there with the Bears, I think you were there for like a decade, what perspective can you give people about the mans skillset and what he brings to the table?
RH: Other than ripping at our hearts a few times in Chicago and then some plays and passes to close out games and keep us from going to the Super Bowl when (Jay) Cutler got hurt, but yeah, the guy has obviously great presence and arm talent, his decision making, his accuracy as a passer has proven itself over the 18 years and you’re looking at a guy who has been able to perform at a high level and raise expectations for them and carry on what (Brett) Favre did and so obviously, he’s going to raise our expectations moving forward, too.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Joe, what is your message to Jets fan about your ability to get this deal for Rodgers done and your commitment to bringing a winner here?
JD: Yeah, I think it’s a credit to Robert. I think it’s a credit to Woody (Johnson) and Christopher (Johnson), the Johnson family for supporting us through all of this, but there is going to be excitement. There are a lot of things to be excited for with adding Aaron and some of the other pieces we added this offseason, so look, there’s not going to be any crazy statements or anything like that, but I guarantee that there is going to be a bunch of players that are going to come in, become unified and really try to re-write how the story ended last year and make sure we’re not in that position again.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Is there a latest on Quinnen (Williams) and when do you hope to get something done with him?
JD: Yeah, still optimistic, had a lot of positive discussions with Nicole and optimistic. I feel like we’re trending in a good place, so optimistic and hopeful is how I would describe that.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Joe, have you spoke with Aaron since yesterday afternoon when the framework was completed?
JD: I’ve primarily been speaking with Dave Dunn through this process, but I think it’s going to be good to get him here and give him a big hug whenever he gets into town.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, the pick swap in the first round. I’m not sure when that came to be, but what’s it like, you’re planning on picking at number 13, did you feel like at 15 you could still get the same caliber player as you could at 13, what was that kind of decision like for agreeing to pick swap?
RH: I’ll let Rex talk about the board and caliber player, but in terms of mechanics to adding that to the deal, that was probably one of the last things that was agreed to in the deal, but I’ll let Rex touch on the board and the player at 13 vs. 15.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (follow up) Does your mindset change at all from 13 to 15?
RH: No true affect, our board still stays the same. We’ll continue to follow along the process and with the way we’ve built the roster, it gives us some flexibility to go whatever direction we want with the player that is available.
JD: At the end of the day, we needed to have 13 players we were excited about and now we have to have 15 players that we’re really excited about and I feel comfortable with that.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (follow up) Did it give you any pause that the Patriots are the 14th pick?
JD: No, not at all.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, I think when the offseason began, I think a lot of people looked at Corey Davis’ contract and assumed that he was either going to be cut or looped in with the Packers trade or not on the team this year, is he going to be on the Jets this coming season and if so, why do you want to keep him around? I mean that positively.
JD: Yeah, when we talk about great teammates, Corey is a great teammate. Corey is selfless, Corey is an unbelievable worker, he’s a great professional for some of our young guys to look up to and model their approach, their work ethic to this game and look, we all know that there is a business aspect to football, but Corey is a valued member of this team and this franchise.