General Manager Joe Douglas, 3.29

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Brian Costello, New York Post: On his thought process behind pursuing Tyreek Hill…

Going into the offseason, we had a great plan. Just going into our free agency first with the guys we were able to add to the team, the goal was to try to help Zach (Wilson) as much as we can on both sides of the ball. I feel like we were able to add youthful vets with a lot of experience who have been able to play in some big games, a couple Super Bowl participants. This was a unique opportunity. I think when you’re putting a team together, when you want to be on the top of a market, ideally you want to be at the top of the market on a homegrown player, but in a circumstance that was this unique, this type of player, we felt it was a good time to be aggressive. Look, it ultimately didn’t work out, but we feel good about our intent. We’re going to be in a lot of conversations moving forward.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: On the trade market for receivers moving forward…

You hear about names, you hear about rumors. Until those opportunities become a little bit more concrete, that’s what they are, just rumors. Look, again, we weren’t expecting the opportunity to pop up that happened last week, but when it came available, OK, we were ready. Again, in this situation, that may be another player, another position. I feel like our pro staff, our personnel staff, they do a great job of keeping everybody prepared, personnel and coaches, to get the evaluations in and so when those opportunities happen, we can jump right in and be aggressive.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On if it’s fair to say he’s looking to add a receiver…

I feel good about the receivers we have. Having Elijah (Moore), who was really starting to come on before his injury. Corey Davis was on pace for 1,000 yards before his injury, bringing Braxton (Berrios) back and everyone’s excited to bring Braxton back, so we feel good about this receiving core we have. We have the opportunity to keep adding to it, if the opportunity is right, the price is right, we’re going to strike. Connor (Hughes) brought up some hypothetical situations that could happen, we’re getting ready for the draft and if the right player presents itself, we’re going to strike.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: On if he’s ever thought about giving a free agent more money than planned…

I think you try to put in a little bit of wiggle room when you have your walkaway numbers, but at the end of the day, you have to be firm. We talk about it all the time, we want to be aggressive, but we don’t want to be reckless. So, we don’t want to be too in-front of our skis so to speak. There were some situations, there were some players we were in on in free agency and we were right there at the end and just couldn’t get it done. There was a number we felt was bordering reckless, so we had to stand down.

 

Bob Glauber, Newsday: On if he’s ok with how the Hill trade played out…

Just working with Brett (Veach) in Kansas City, working with Drew (Rosenhaus), it was great because there was full transparency on both sides. I think there was a point that, look, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but we wanted to make a really strong offer to try to convince the player and the agent that this was a good place to be. Ultimately, it didn’t work out. There was full transparency in the process.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On if wide receiver is now considered a premium position…

Those premium positions, you hit the nail on the head, it’s those playmakers, too, so you see how that market is going now. Even with some guys on the horizon that could affect the market, too. That’s definitely a position that’s a premium position for us and where we are with a young quarterback. As free agency unfolded and you saw the market going a little crazy at that position, we felt a good pivot was going to be to add some quality tight ends that would maybe not be in that high end of a market as compared to wide receiver, but could come in here and really help our offense and help a young quarterback.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: On if the two first round picks are off the table in trade talks…

I would say that’s a hypothetical question. I think obviously it depends on who we’re talking about. If it’s the right opportunity, we’ll consider any packages, but ultimately, we want to talk about a package that makes sense for us and gives us the ability to maintain our flexibility.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On selecting the best player available in the draft rather than selecting based on need…

Absolutely, I think part of the goal of any free agency is going into a draft without any huge perceived holes to give teams a target of, “Ok, they’re definitely going for this position. They definitely need this position; they don’t have a starter here.” So, I think what we did, we were able to get Laken (Tomlinson), be able to get D.J. Reed, (Jordan) Whitehead, the two tight ends, Solly (Solomon Thomas), bring Nate Shepherd back, I feel like we were able to add quality players that are going to help us so we can go into draft and maintain our flexibility like I’ve said.

 

On if he thinks he can flip things quickly if he hits on his draft picks…

This will be my third offseason with the team, and I feel like every offseason you walk in with a plan, working with Coach and Woody (Robert Wood Johnson) and Christopher (W. Johnson) and Hymie (Elhai) and you’re trying to put the best plan available, so you feel like, ‘Ok, we’re going to come in this offseason and really upgrade the team.’ So, there’s pressure every offseason, but obviously this year, having four picks in the top 38, we do this the right way, it could really be special and where we set ourselves up with free agency and the opportunity here with these top four picks. Again, it’s a huge opportunity for us.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On where he thinks they are in terms of building the team…

I think we’re still young. Having two years worth of draft guys on the roster and getting ready to add, right now, nine more young guys. But being able to, like I said earlier, to bring in some quality veteran free agents that are still young, that are still in their prime and have played in championship moments to really add to these young players and help this entire locker room grow and develop. Just going through what we did last year, playing all the young guys, knowing that there was going to be some bumps along the road, but hoping that the payoff starts now with this year moving forward.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On if he thinks the team should be playing meaningful games in December if he gets the draft right…

Absolutely, we need to be playing meaningful games in December. I think with where we were and a couple of the moves we made recently; we expect to be playing in a lot more close games. That’s why, if we’re going to be playing in close games, it’s important to have a good kicker. Signing (Greg) Zuerlein, bringing Eddy (Piñeiro) back, it’s going to be a nice competition there. Hopefully they can be a big factor for us in some of these tighter games that we play next year.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On his expectations for the 2020 draft class, particularly Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims…

My expectations are high. Just checking in with their agents and seeing some of the videos that they’ve forwarded me, seeing how hard they work. I’m excited for all of those guys, not just Mekhi and Denzel, but Jabari (Zuniga), Ashtyn (Davis), Bryce (Hall), all the guys coming back from the 2020 and 2021 draft. Get them back on the field with the new players we added. So, look, we’re very optimistic on all these guys coming back. I talked about it at our end of season presser, a big focus for us, and I don’t think this is breaking news, great teams, teams that are in the playoffs, they keep their good players healthy. That’s going to be a huge focus for us, keeping those guys healthy and keeping them on the field for those December, meaningful games.

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: On if he’s operating as if Becton will be one of the two starting tackles next season…

Yes, we are operating like Mekhi is going to be one of our two tackles. That’s our expectation, that he’s going to come back ready to roll. I know he’s fired up to get back on the field and compete, and also, we have George (Fant). We feel good about the tackle group because we have George, we brought Conor (McDermott) back who’s played in games for us, Chuma (Edoga) is in the final year of his rookie year, so we have four tackles on the roster that have played and started games for us. Feel great about our tackle situation in general.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On what he thinks the next step is for Wilson and how much the new tight ends will help his development…

I think when you have a tight end, a quality tight end, it’s a great security blanket for a young quarterback, having seen it in the past with other teams. So, when you have two guys, obviously we’re excited about the guys that we have on the roster too that are still young and developing, but when you bring C.J. (Uzomah) in, who is a culture guys, bring (Tyler) Conklin in, who I think was top 10 in tight end explosives last year, it just gives you more options, more options for a young quarterback who can work the middle of the field for us.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On how much better he thinks the coaching staff will be this season…

I think everyone is going to be better in Year Two than they were in Year One. I like to think that everyone in general is better in the second year of their job than the first year of their job when you’re just trying to figure things out. Like I said before, Robert brought in an unbelievable staff from teachers and leaders and motivators. I know that there’s complete buy in from our players. I feel great about this staff that Robert has put together.

 

Bob Glauber, Newsday: On if there’s a possibility Becton would play right tackle…

I think Coach has brought that up. There is a possibility that George would be left, and Mekhi would be right. But, again, I expect both of them to be in our tackle group.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: On working with Coach Saleh to decide between offensive or defensive lineman in the draft…

I think we all win. (laughter) I think we all win because it all starts up front. We go back and forth, but we see it the same way. It all starts up front. This game is about protecting your quarterback, giving him weapons and then affecting the other team’s quarterback and the best way to do that is with pass rush. Look, in my eyes, and I know Coach believes this too, if you want to take a $30 million wide receiver off the field, you hit the quarterback. Hit him early, hit him often. That’s always going to be our belief. Coach and I really see it the same way.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: On if Becton will be cleared for OTAs…

He came back for re-checks. He had a good meeting with our doctors. We’ll get him back for OTAs, take another physical and see where he is when he gets back.

 

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