The Jets have had a promotion in the past where they hand out green flags to fans at MetLife Stadium. If there were going to be fans at this Monday’s game against the Patriots, the Jets could have handed out white flags.
The front office is sending a clear message that it has moved on from the 2020 season. General manager Joe Douglas reinforced that Sunday night when he traded linebacker Avery Williamson to the Steelers along with a 2022 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round pick. Williamson joined Steve McLendon and Jordan Willis as recent players sent packing by Douglas.
At 0-8, it is the right move. Douglas is moving players on expiring contracts who are not part of the future here for picks down the road rather than letting them walk in free agency for nothing this offseason. Douglas could make more moves before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
Still, there are players and coaches who have eight games left this season and don’t want to hear about Trevor Lawrence. They are trying to win. But isn’t the message from the organization that it no longer cares about wins in 2020?
“I never look at waving a white flag, that’s not in my DNA,” coach Adam Gase said. “This is our profession, when things like this happen, guys aren’t ever going to be shocked by this, like we’re in a profession of ‘We got to win games,’ when we don’t, things change, and younger guys get opportunities to play. I mean that’s what the NFL is, this is not unique.”
It is true this is not unique, but 0-8 is unusual. The Jets have only been this bad once before in franchise history, in 1996 when they started off 0-8 before winning their ninth game on their way to a 1-15 record.
The Jets made a move last year at the trade deadline, sending Leonard Williams to the Giants, but that move was more about not paying Williams and trying to recoup some picks. This year it has been about selling off any spare parts Douglas can move. Williamson and McLendon were heart-and-soul players for the Jets over recent years. They were popular in the locker room and their absence will be felt. They also were two of the better players on the defense. Williamson led the team in tackles in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and was traded hours later.
“I feel like, to me, each one’s a different story,” Gase said. “There are reasons behind every move that we make. I felt like this was something where an opportunity presented itself. Sometimes, with how we’ve accumulated picks for the next few drafts, we haven’t won a game yet. And when we have guys that other teams see value in, and we’re able to get draft picks due to it, I know it’s not always ideal but, I mean, that’s the NFL, that’s what it is. I mean that’s kind of part of what happens when you don’t win. And it would be a different story if we had more wins and something like that probably doesn’t happen, but we’re a part of the season right now where we haven’t won a game yet and things like this happen.”
Douglas has acquired three picks in 2022, all in the fifth and sixth rounds. He has given up his seventh-round pick in the next three drafts. He is acquiring draft capital to move around the draft.
The Jets are not interested in trading their top young talent like defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, but some other players may be on the move. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins, tackle George Fant, tackle Chuma Edoga and safety Marcus Maye all are viewed as potential trade possibilities around the league. Maye, who will be a free agent after this season, said he has not heard about any trades involving him, but he knows anything can happen.
“We all know the business that we’re in and the situation that we’re in right now,” Maye said. “You just have to keep a positive mindset and just do what you have to do to help yourself out at the end of the day.”
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