General Manager Joe Douglas, 7.27
It is good to be here, hope everyone is doing well, hope everyone is having a great summer. I know for me, it is good to be back in the building and we are all excited about having the full team come in tomorrow and get the season going. Obviously the trade that was agreed on Saturday is still pending physicals for Jamal (Adams) and Bradley (McDougald) and on our end, Bradley should be arriving tonight and we will be giving him a COVID test and if that test goes well, he should be having his physical tomorrow. I want to tell you guys that it was an honor to work with John Schneider, can’t tell you guys how much I respect John, Coach (Pete) Carroll, that organization, they have been a model of consistency and a winning organization and it was an honor to work with John on this deal, so I really appreciate him. We are really excited to bring Bradley McDougald into the fold, he is a good football player. He is a guy that can help us and we are also excited about the premium draft selections that we are going to be receiving over the next two years, along with a safety that’s been a consistent performer, he started 75 games, he has had 10 career interceptions. We are excited about the opportunity that this gives us. As I’ve repetitively said, my responsibility is to always take the call and access its value to the Jets and ultimately this was a deal that made sense for us to make. I think that we have a lot of good players here and I feel like we have a good returning core, as well as some players we added throughout the offseason that we are all excited about and I know this team is hungry and I know this team is ready to carry the momentum from the 6-2 finish into 2020. I especially believe in Coach (Adam) Gase. I feel like he is the right coach to lead this team. Having watched him work last year, having seen him and his staff overcome a 1-7 start and finish the way they did, I feel really good about where we are with him and his leadership. And before I move on to some other points, I just want to make it clear that I never promised an offer to Jamal or his agent, nor was I ever dishonest or ambiguous in any communications with their camp. Moving forward I want to be clear what the New York Jets believe in, and that is that every person deserves to be judged by the content of their individual character and there is no room for people here that think otherwise. Specifically regarding the allegations against Woody Johnson, Christopher (Johnson) called me, told me his brother would never make comments like that of any sort and knowing Christopher the way I’ve gotten to know him over the last year, I certainly take his word on this. Furthermore, during my year here, I have witnessed the respect and the dignity this organization treats our employees with. I feel we have a strong foundation set both in equality and inclusion and I feel like that foundation was laid by Woody and continued on by his brother, Christopher. 2020, as we said in our previous discussions, it’s been a different and a tough year for all of us. Last time I spoke to you guys, this area was really in the thick of things with COVID-19. You see now, we are in a better situation thanks to the hard work of everyone in our community, especially our essential workers, our frontline workers. I want to tell you guys that our medical team, our infection control team, they’ve really put in a lot of hours to make sure that our protocols are the best in sports and I know the league and the union have down a great job working on that as well. All of their work has made it possible for us to be here and for us to have the opportunity to report to camp and now we have to continue to all do the right things. There needs to be a collective buy-in from not only the players but from the staff and the coaches, we all need to do the right things once we leave this building to make sure that we can stay here and keep being part of the sport we all love. Finally, we are excited to be at this point. We are going to have the remaining players begin their part of the COVID testing tomorrow and we are expecting this to go well and we are going to have time together and we are really looking forward to building the chemistry we know that is going to be necessary for us to compete at the highest level. And again, just want to thank everyone in the building who has helped us prepare. Like I said, I feel like we’re in a really good place with our protocols and our procedure. This offseason everyone here really showed their ability to adjust and get acclimated to the new normal working conditions and that is going to continue here, but it is good to do all be in the same location, all working towards the regular season and again, can’t be more excited to get this thing going.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, you spoke highly of Jamal from the time you have arrived through the offseason, when we talked to you, you said you wanted him to be a Jet for life, are you disappointed that is came to this, that you ended up having to trade him?
It certainly wasn’t the plan when I first arrived here. Again, the circumstances, how things played out. It really was our plan to keep Jamal here, but when our conversations started with John in Seattle several weeks ago, the focus became clear that this is a great opportunity for us and the franchise moving forward.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, you obviously said that you’ve been having conversations with the Seahawks the last couple of weeks, were there other teams involved in this as well? Was there a point where it became just the Seahawks you guys were talking to in recent days, or were other teams in it until the end?
There were several teams that reached out and expressed their interest. It became clear once we received phone calls that our focus was Seattle and they were aggressive in their pursuit of (Adams) and the conversations with John, like I said, were first class and the communication was great and we were able to work it all out.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Joe, last year, at the end of last season you said that communication was something that you wanted to work on and Jamal, obviously, and you guys weren’t on the same page with the negotiations, so just how do you feel like you communication was in these negotiations and overall in the team, where do you guys think you are with that issue? Obviously, Jamal is not the first player you guys have had some disagreements with.
I think the communication from my standpoint was pretty clear. I feel like in most cases, players rely on their agent to handle any talks about their future and that’s how we handled it with Jamal and his representative. I feel like our communication was very clear from the very beginning. I feel like there is going to be things that we can constantly improve on, communication is certainly going to be one of those things and it’s an emphasis now and it’s going to be an emphasis moving forward.
Bob Glauber, Newsday: Hey Joe, I am just curious with the possibility that there might not be a football season or a full football season in college, does the 2021 first round pick become a little complicated because you may not have the benefit of seeing those players? Was there any consideration even to delaying it by a year to 2022 and 2023 for those first round picks?
Obviously, you bring up a great point, there is a lot of uncertainty in sports in general and we don’t have a crystal ball to know exactly what the college season this year is going to look like. What I do feel confident about is the group of guys that we have on our college scouting staff. One of the cool things were able to do before the trade hit, just reach out to our scouts on a Teams call and just let them know what was happening and there was a lot of excitement because hey look, the onus in on us to hit on these pick moving forward. Obviously, there are going to be challenges this year, but we have the right group of guys to overcome those challenges.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Joe, you’ve been very complimentary of Jamal through this entire process over the last several months so it kind of begs the question that you just said moments ago that you never promised his camp an offer, so if he is such a good player, probably your best player, why not give him a contract extension this year so you can secure him for the long term?
We went through a lot of different scenarios. Obviously, since the current CBA for rookies came in 2011, there have only been three defensive players that have received an extension this early, Luke Kuechly, J.J. Watt and most recently Myles Garrett. I think where we were with the uncertainty at the time of not knowing what the full economic picture was going to look like, we just weren’t in position to do anything immediately when it came to the contract extension.
Chris Ryan, NJ Advance Media: Joe, you’ve touched on the coronavirus stuff but with everything that happened with the Marlins today in the MLB, is there any kind of pause with what might happen with the NFL with what is coming up in the next month or so?
That’s a great point, obviously that’s been a big story today, with what is going on with the MLB and going back to what I said earlier, it is going to be a collective effort. Again, I know that there has been a group of people that are a lot smarter than me that have put together the protocols for COVID-19 and we feel like those protocols and the league and the union both feel that these protocols are in the best interest of the players and keeping them safe moving them forward. Now, it is our job to abide by those protocols. We feel like our building is going to be the safest environment for our players. Now when we all leave the building, we have to make that we are taking care of one another by the decisions we make when we leave.
Manish Mehta, New York Daily News: Joe, you alluded to this in your opening statement, but yet Jamal was explicit in saying that he did not think that Adam was the right leader to take this team to the Super Bowl and you have described Jamal as a leader, Adam himself has described Jamal as an elite player. So what specifically about Adam, do you see that leads you to believe that he does have the requisite leadership skills to take you guys to a title? Secondly, on a completely unrelated note regarding Jamal, why did you guys talk to Kyle Long about possibly coming out of retirement this offseason?
In terms of in terms of the Jamal and Adam question, look at I’ve seen Adam this year go through a 1-7 start and a coach who never lost patience, who never wavered from his beliefs, and a guy who would get up and have the tough conversations if you had to with players and get up and have great communication with the team in team meetings. So, everything I’ve seen, I’ve witnessed in my year here with Adam, I’ve been impressed by. So again, I can’t speak for other people, but everything I’ve seen has been outstanding. In terms of Kyle, look Kyle and I were together at Chicago. The conversation I had with Kyle was more as a friend. There’s are some ideas that were thrown out there, but it wasn’t so much a conversation of a GM and player, it was a conversation of two former co-workers who were catching up.
Charles McDonald, New York Daily News: Beyond the statement that was released by the team, do you have any comment on the racist and sexist allegations against Woody Johnson?
Again on Woody, I was late to seeing anything that came out last week, but receiving a call from Christopher and just him outlining what was being said and him absolutely saying that’s not what we’re about and that’s not what the Johnson family is about. And look, I report to Christopher and our relationship is outstanding, and like I said in the opening statement, I take a take him at his word 100 percent.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: You’ve been incredibly complimentary of Jamal ever since you’ve kind of been here with the “Jet for life” comments and everything. So was it disheartening or disappointing or upsetting to see the shots that he’s taken at the organization over the last few weeks, both in Instagram comments, on Twitter and then in the story that ran in the Daily News a couple days ago?
Look, this is a business and you don’t take things personally. Obviously, there is a reason why those things were said. I don’t take those things personally, I don’t think anyone took those things personally. You kind of understand why those things were said and I can promise you that didn’t affect us with any of our decision making that happened over the last week.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: It sounds like the you’re saying the offer from Seattle and the economics of Jamal’s contract demands were the driving forces. If you had decided that you wanted to keep him, given what he had said, did you think that that relationship could still be repaired? Or did you think it had just reached the point where he wasn’t ever going to be happy here again?
Look, I mean we were ready for anything in terms of how this could ultimately play out, and we were prepared for Jamal to come in and have a discussion with him and try to work out a resolution. But obviously we received an offer that was just too difficult to pass up, and we decided to move forward with that decision.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Just following up on the public criticism that Jamal levied on the team. There could be a perception out there that among players or agents now that, hey if you’re unhappy with the Jets, just make a lot of noise and you’ll get your way. Did you worry about setting a precedent at all with this trade in regards to that?
Yeah, I think you think about precedent in every big decision you make. And for us I certainly don’t feel like this is a precedent for a player to shoot his way out of town. Obviously, like I said when the earlier question was asked, I feel like we had a great contingency plan for any situation. It just so happened that the situation worked out the way it did, but no I’m not concerned about that precedent.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Can you just talk about the dynamic between you and Adam with regard to this trade? How much input did he have and was he on board with it, and ultimately was it your call to make?
Yeah, I kept Adam, Christopher and my guys in the loop throughout the entire process, and there were a lot of good discussions. Ultimately, it’s my it’s my decision to make, but it’s not without input from everybody.
Manish Mehta, New York Daily News: People can perceive this as you punting on this season given that you traded your best player a few days before camp started. So in that vein, why isn’t the present as important as the future? You obviously have set yourself up, potentially, for a lot of good things in the future, but why don’t you view 2020 in that same light? And then secondly, are there any things that you wish you could have done differently? You made it clear that you’ve been pretty straightforward throughout this process, but obviously it’s evolved to a point that I’m sure neither side wanted. So, is there anything differently that you wish you would have done, any regrets?
Firstly, I would disagree with that assessment. I think when you guys see this team practice and get around this team, you’re going to see a team that’s very hungry and has a lot of desire to prove that a 6-2 finish was not a fluke against a quote-unquote soft schedule, and I think you’re going to see a team that has a lot of fire and a lot of motivation. So, I would disagree that we’re punting on 2020. In terms of things that I could do better, look I’m in year two of being a GM in the National Football League, and I’m always going to look at things that I can do better on a daily basis and then on a macro level through the year. Those are discussions that I’ll have with Adam, that I have with Rex (Hogan), that I have with people around the building. We don’t have the hubris to think that we have all the answers. So, I’m constantly going to work on things that I feel I need to improve on.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: By trading Jamal, obviously it’s not going to make you better in 2020. So, is there anything you guys are going to say the players or a message you’re going to have for them? Maybe some of them are a little frustrated with this move. And then secondly, what are some of the challenges with the current situation, the lack of a full offseason that some of your younger players are going to face coming into this season, given the pandemic and all that?
Yeah, I think it goes back to communication. Look, my door in this building is always open, and I’m always open to having a discussion with any staff member or player about any topic. So, if they want to discuss this trade and the effects of it, look I’m willing to have that discussion. In terms of how this affects the young guys, obviously it’s a challenge to get young guys on the field. The feedback has been outstanding regarding our virtual meetings with the rookies and the entire team throughout the spring, but obviously you can’t duplicate the reps on the field. So, we need to get on the field, we need to build an on-field chemistry and we need to do that soon. That’s part of just the excitement of guys coming back and wanting to be together. They haven’t seen each other since this January, so these guys couldn’t be more excited about coming in here and getting on the field and working.
Kimberly Jones, NFL Network: Now you have firmly established yourself in the role of GM in every way. Do you have a message both for your franchise, for your locker room, but also for your fan base about how the Jets are going to start meeting the expectations their fans want to have for them? As you know, it’s been since 2010 since they’ve made the playoffs and I think there’s some frustration out there obviously based on that, but I think hearkening back to a couple questions you did get about dealing Jamal, I think they also kind of throw up their hands and say, “There goes another first round pick out the door.”
I think my message to the team and the fan base is that we are trying to build this the right way, and I think this deal helps us do that. I think we’re working to build a foundation of great players and great people, and again going back to what I said in the past, building the right culture and having the right chemistry in the building. And I’ve said it multiple times today, but we have a group of guys that have a lot of drive and hunger to prove that the finish of last year was not a fluke, and if we can capture that momentum and push it into 2020, there’s a lot of exciting things that can happen. But again, it’s going to take a group effort and it starts with being responsible and making smart decisions in regard to the obstacle we’re facing in COVID, and then putting the work in together as a unit and a team. So, we are doing everything and working tirelessly to get the right people in this building.