Jets face Deebo Samuel dilemma ahead of 2022 NFL Draft

Jets general manager Joe Douglas and assistant GM Rex Hogan met with the media Thursday for their preliminary draft press conference.

But the first question wasn’t about draft ratings, the number 4, or even anything about the current Jets roster. It was about 49ers star wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who told ESPN on Wednesday that he wants a trade.

“Rex, have you got this?” Douglas joked when asked if the Jets were in the market for Samuel.

Douglas then showed some nice dance moves for a man his size.

“I can’t go into detail when it comes to a player who isn’t in our squad,” Douglas said. “I’m just saying since I’ve been here I’ve made it known that my job is to make the team better and we will do that in any way we can.”

Debbo Samuel
The 49ers’ Deebo Samuel has said he wants out of San Francisco.
Getty Images
Joe Douglas said he plans to go “aggressive” when it comes to improving the Jets’ roster.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Douglas showed his desire to land a top receiver when he made an aggressive bid for Tyreek Hill last month before the Chiefs sold him to the Dolphins. For now, the Jets believe the 49ers won’t defeat Samuel, but things can change. If San Francisco makes Samuel available, the Jets would certainly be interested in adding that kind of weapon to their offense to help out quarterback Zach Wilson.

“If the right opportunity comes up to improve this squad, we’re going to attack them and be aggressive,” Douglas said, speaking in general and not specifically about Samuel.

The possibility of a trade for Samuel is an intriguing subplot for the Jets going into next Thursday’s NFL draft. Unless they make a move for Samuel or another veteran wide receiver like the Titans’ AJ Brown, Douglas is likely to draft a wide receiver early. Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, USC’s Drake London and Alabama’s Jameson Williams are all possibilities for the No. 10 overall Jets.

USC wide receiver Drake London is a possibility for the Jets with 10th overall pick.

“We feel very fortunate to have the receivers that we have in this space,” Douglas said of his current group of wideouts. “Corey [Davis] and Elijah [Moore] were on track for really good seasons before the injury. We are all happy to have Braxton [Berrios] return. He played so well all the way — a Pro Bowl-caliber returnee. Then also some young guys that we’re looking forward to, some guys that have come back to roll for OTAs. There will be a big competition. As with any other position, we will do it when there is an opportunity to add quality players and quality depth.

The Jets could also wait until Day 2 of the draft to take a receiver. In recent years, teams have had as much success in the second round as they did in the first, and this year’s receiver league is deep again.

“Overall, the recipient group as a whole, there’s a lot of parity at the top of the draft and throughout the draft,” Hogan said.

Douglas has spent his first 2 1/2 years enabling the Jets to be flexible when opportunities arise. The Jets have nine draft picks this year, four of them in the top 38. That’s the result of trading with Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold. Douglas also had to sort out bad contracts and get the Jets into the salary cap shape needed to make big moves.

The Jets feel they are now in a place where they can be involved in any compelling trade discussion that arises.

“It’s a great position we’re in,” said Douglas. “Obviously a lot of steps have been taken to be in that position. Unfortunately we had to trade some really good players to be in that position but it’s a great opportunity to be a part of every opportunity and have those discussions and if the right situation arises we can be a part of it.”

Douglas said discussions with fellow GMs about draft day trade scenarios were “heating up.” He expects to add four starters with those first- and second-round picks, and he reiterated that the Jets have higher expectations this year.

“We expect to play significant games in December,” Douglas said. “We feel like we’re a better team now than we were at the end of last season and we’re going to get better here in a few days. “ Jets face Deebo Samuel dilemma ahead of 2022 NFL Draft


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