Jets’ GM Joe Douglas wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger.
In the final hours of finalizing his team’s roster, Douglas made some eye-popping moves that could help slap some final seal on the first step of new foundation, or could leave some lasting repercussions.
Douglas gained some high marks for his recent draft, free agent acquisitions, and trades. Yet, Douglas’ final roster moves can make a difference either way.
With edge rusher Carl Lawson lost for the season, Douglas acquired another Lawson. He traded a 2022 sixth-round pick to Houston for edge rusher Shaq Lawson, who has been a general disappointment since he was a first-round pick of Buffalo in 2016.
This Lawson signed a three-year, 30-million pack with Miami last year, but he was dealt to Houston in March. The Jets also lost fellow rusher and ex-Eagles Vinnie Curry for the year with a blood disorder.
That pick was acquired from San Francisco in a dela for Jordan Willis.
The Jets then dealt their other sixth-round pick and much-maligned tight end Chris Herndon to Minnesota for a 2022 fourth-round pick.
Herndon was a beacon of hope for the position when he burst on the scene as a fourth-round pick in 2018, but he never lived up to the hype since then. Douglas also released tight end Ryan Griffin, who had some flashes over the past few years.
That left the Jets with former Bill Tyler Kroft, who they picked up in the offseason, and Trevor Wesco, who has been the Jets defacto fullback the last few years. Even though Kroft has looked good, Douglas likely will scour the waiver wire.
Early Wednesday, Douglas sent some more shock waves when he released cornerback Bless Austin, who was projected as a starter. Austin had been the subject of trade rumors, and his validity as a starter has been questioned over the past two years.
With Austin gone, the spotlight will shine brighter on second-year corner Bryce Hall, who had a breakthrough last year. Douglas did acquire Sheldrick Redwine from Cleveland, and rookies Brandin Echols, Michael Carter III, and Isaiah Dunn will need to step up.
Austin’s release easily can be Douglas’s most controversial move, as the Jets’ corner position was viewed as the biggest need for an overhaul.
Since his rookie year in 2019, Austin’s stock steadily dropped. Even if he was inconsistent, Austin could fill the role of a nickel back and provide a veteran presence with a rather raw lot. Remember when Richard Sherman was coming here for that role? Well, that won’t happen now.
Douglas also quietly added former Jaguar linebacker Quincy Williams, who could make a difference in another area that needs some depth. Yes, he is the brother of defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Douglas still has 11 days until the opener in Carolina, and he still may do some tinkering with the roster.
Cornerback, linebacker and kicker are three areas that could use an upgrade. Backup quarterback was another area that was highly profiled since April. Is Mike White the answer if Zach Wilson goes down? Does Luke Falk or Davis Webb jar a memory?
These last-minute transactions don’t always make a difference.
But Douglas needs to hit the mark with his 53 candidates to smooth the road for his alleged franchise quarterback and bring some respectability back to Florham Park.