General Manager Joe Douglas, 2.28

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Opening Statement: Since last we spoke, we had a great opportunity to get together as a group with our coaching staff and go over our team. Really productive visits to All-Star games, Senior Bowl was great, had a great round of draft meetings with our college scouts and so, excited to be here. As we go into this offseason, as we kind of finish up this Combine process, obviously you guys have seen reports about us bringing Derek Carr in about a week and a half ago. I can tell you that was a fantastic visit. We really enjoyed spending time with him. Obviously, he’s the only quarterback that I can really shed any light on for you guys. Since he’s the only quarterback that’s a free agent, but I can say that he left a strong impression with everybody, so obviously we’re going to be exploring the veteran quarterback market this offseason and we’re going to look at every available option. We feel like when it’s time to make the right decision when everyone goes through their process, we’re going to make the best decision for the Jets, so with that, I’ll open it up to questions.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Joe, at what point do you want to have that decision made?

I think it’s hard to put an exact timetable. I think everybody would like it done sooner rather than later, but everyone has their own process. (I) feel like we have our process and exploring the market, exploring options, and each player has their own process in terms of what they have going on. So, I can’t give a direct timetable, specific timetable, but again, when the decision is ready to be made, I feel very strongly we’re going to make the right decision for the Jets.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: What do you like about Derek (Carr) as a quarterback?

Yeah, obviously with Derek, high level producer, but really a phenomenal person, just spending time with him, very authentic. Again, ultra-intelligent, just very comfortable in his own skin and highly competitive and on the tape, you see the talent, you see the release, the velocity, the way he gets the ball out, the decision making, the accuracy, so a lot of things to like.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Joe, you don’t want to miss out on a guy like that while you’re waiting for somebody else to make a decision?

Well, I think, I don’t want to speak for Derek, but obviously this is the first time that he’s been a free agent in his pro career and being around him and seeing how smart of a person he is, I know he’s going to be thorough with his process to make sure that him and his family end up in the right destination for them. So, we’re going to respect his process and then again, we’ll be ready to make a decision when the time comes.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Joe, did you make a contract offer to Derek when he was in town? Did you guys offer him a contract?

I’m not going to get in any contract negotiations or talk like that, other than just to say, we had a great visit, felt like it was really productive visit.


Brian Costello, New York Post: There’s a report that he’s coming to Indianapolis this week, are you guys going to meet with him again here?

We are, we are going to spend a little more time with him when he comes out.


Do you prefer free agency versus a trade? How do you feel about potentially having to give up draft picks?

Yeah, again, we look through every scenario. Those are things we’re weighing versus acquiring a player with no compensation in terms of trade, draft picks or players versus someone that may require that. So, we’re looking at every option and that will play a part in the decision.


What do you like about Todd Downing and can you speak to the situation last season?

Yeah, you know that process will play itself out with the League. We feel really comfortable about Todd as a coach and a person and we’re very excited to add him to this staff and I know Coach Salah can talk about that a little bit more, but just spending time with him, his passion, just his ability to connect with players, build great relationships with players. We are very excited to add a person of his caliber, a coach of his caliber to our organization.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Joe, how do you balance, Derek is a player you can sign right now in this process, you can have him right now and have your quarterback situation kind of solidified, versus waiting for a player you potentially trade for or sign who may or may not be available, how do you balance that?

Yeah, again, I would say that we feel good about our process and we’re also going to respect his process. And again, when we feel like it’s time to make the right decision, we’re going to make it.


So, Joe, from that standpoint, if Derek were to say I want to come to the Jets, would you then open negotiations with him on contract?

I’m not going to get in any hypotheticals. We have a meeting planned this week, and we’ll see how that goes, but again, we’ll be ready to pull the trigger when we have to.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, how do things stand with Quinnen (Williams) and his contract negotiations?

Yeah, we’ve had several good discussions with Nicole (Lynn) and Quinnen (Williams) since the season and we feel really good about where we’re at and, again, feel good that this process is going to play out in the right way.


How does NIL impact these players coming out of college?

Yeah, that’s a good question, because probably everyone has a different opinion about NIL. I view it, maybe I view it a little differently than most, but I think when you have guys that, maybe underclassmen that receive fourth, fifth, sixth round grades, from the League, they’re more apt to stay in because of the NIL and I know that in the old days, we would always get in Draft rooms and talk about players and how they’re going to handle money and I think some of that gets answered now, with the NIL, and the relationships you have with the coaching staffs will kind of answer that question for you, in terms of that, but I think there is an impact on draft classes. I think you’re going see less underclassmen come out than in previous years.


On some of the players drafted in the later rounds…

I think when we looked at some of the guys that we had graded later in the draft that ended up making teams, a lot of those guys came back for fifth and sixth years, so they were a little bit more mature physically, they were a little bit more developed and so we felt like that maybe played a factor in them being able to come in and make a team either as an undrafted free agent, or as a late round draft pick.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Have you had discussions with the Packers? I know you can’t talk about specific players, but have you talked about a potential trade?

This is a season where we talked to a lot of GMs. We talked about a lot of different scenarios, a lot of different trades and not just quarterbacks, so I’ve had a lot of productive discussions with multiple GMs around the League and you know, it’s probably a good question for Brian (Gutekunst) to answer, but no again, we’ve had a lot of positive discussions.


Joe, do you have any updates on Breece Hall and his recovery?

Yeah, Breece (Hall) is doing great in his recovery. I know he had a visit with Dr. Cooper in Dallas, and he’s progressing great. So really Breece, AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker), Mekhi (Becton), they’re all doing great in their recovery, and we feel good about their return.


Do you expect him to be ready to start the 2023 season?

Right now, the plan is for him to be ready for the start of the season.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, how do you feel about the tackle position right now?

Yeah, we have a lot of moving pieces, in season too. So that’s definitely a position where we’d like to create some more stability and continuity, especially with the injuries we sustained last year, so Duane’s (Brown) under contract, Max Mitchell’s coming back. Max is doing great, another player that’s recovering. He’s doing great and Mekhi (Becton) is doing great. So, you know, feel good about those three guys coming back. Duane, he just had a procedure on his shoulder, he’s recovering well, but again, you know, as I’ve said before, O-line, D-line are going to be a high priority for us always and so if there’s an opportunity to upgrade tackle, center, guard, d-tackle, d-end, we’re always going to look at doing that.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Has Duane (Brown) said he’s going to play this year?

You know, I haven’t had those discussions. I don’t think Coach has had those discussions with Duane yet, but obviously, for him to do what he did last year to play with the injury that he played with, which I don’t think we could find a documented tackle that played with the injury that he had for an entire year. It’s a special thing and I know we hold him in very high regard as a person and a player, so you know, let him recover a little bit. We’ll have those discussions as the offseason progresses.


Joe, what’s your hope for Zach Wilson through all this, whether it’s Derek or another veteran quarterback, can you keep his status and his development in mind while you’re going through all of this?

Yeah, I know in talking with Nathaniel (Hackett) and Todd (Downing), and our staff, they’re so excited to get with Zach and start working. I know they’ve had some positive discussions, but again, our stance on Zach hasn’t changed. We feel like Zach has a very high ceiling. Obviously, the first two years haven’t played out the way that anybody’s hoped, but we still feel like there’s a very high ceiling with Zach and  in my time in the League, I found that when players love this game, and when players work their tails off, they usually hit their ceiling and so I feel like Zach definitely has those traits, so still feel strongly that Zach’s going to be able to hit his ceiling.


Josina Anderson, CBS Sports: Hey Joe, I know you were talking about you’re okay with acquiring a quarterback, whether it be by a trade or what have you, when you think about the amount of compensation that it took to acquire quarterbacks like a Deshaun (Watson) and Russell (Wilson), and what have you, what is your philosophy, your thought process on that amount of compensation, particularly in comparison to quarterback on an exclusive amounts, you know what I’m saying?

Yeah, I mean, obviously, that plays a big factor in terms of trades and so, I feel like we’ve tried to live by the mantra, right player, right price, and the compensation plays a huge part in that price and so, you know, when we’re looking to make a decision like this for the Jets, we’re going to try to do something that helps us both short term and long term.


Brian Costello, New York Post: With Mekhi (Becton), two parts, can you handle him as a starter right now or you can’t because he hasn’t played in two years and secondly, have you made a decision on his fifth-year option?

So, we don’t have to make a decision on the fifth-year option until after the Draft, so we’re not ready to announce any decision on that. In terms of Mekhi being able to be a starter, I think, for any of you guys who were here in the 2020 season, you saw what a healthy Mekhi can do on the football field, and how dominant a player that he was as a rookie, early in his rookie year, and, unfortunately, the last few years had been frustrating from an injury standpoint, but I can tell you that Mekhi is in as good of a place now as I’ve seen him in a long time, and he’s working his tail off, and he wants to be the best player that he can be for the New York Jets.


Connor Hughes, SNY: You guys obviously are interested in adding a quarterback that costs money. Right now, with the salary cap, basically, you guys made a decision which wasn’t future yet. When it comes to making salary cap saving, when do you anticipate making it?

Yeah, noticed that some teams are doing some of these restructures now, we haven’t begun that process. We feel confident. One, we have a great team, football admin team of Dave Socie, Nick Sabella and we still have a lot of flexibility. As you guys know, we hardly have any money prorated into the future on our salary cap, so we have great flexibility to create very large amounts of cap space if necessary, so we’ve talked, we’ve had some initial discussions about the avenues of doing that, but I don’t anticipate that happening until after the Combine.