The New York Jets have no offseason. After their Week 18 game against the Buffalo Bills, the organization must immediately focus on the NFL draft and free agency.
Sunday marks the end of the Jets’ 56th season when they take on the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York.
While it may be the end of the Jets’ regular season schedule, there is no offseason.
I will never forget when I was hired by the Jets and Scott Pioli (then the team’s Pro Scouting Director) and he told me, “overtime in the NFL is not optional, it’s mandatory.”
It is during my four seasons with the Jets, I got to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes in the months the team is not playing.
Yes, the players will clean out their lockers, but the front office and coaching will jump head first right into draft and free agency preparation. There are more players to evaluate than there are hours in a day.
While there are 259 players selected in the seven-round NFL draft, there are countless others (hundreds if not thousands more) who factor in as undrafted free agent signings, that college scouting director Jon Carr and his scouts need to know.
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At present, there are 763 NFL unrestricted free agents for the Pro Personnel Director, Greg Nejmeh and his staff to get a handle on (per spotrac.com). The pro department needs to also coordinate travel itineraries and hotel accommodations for the free agents and their agents to visit that the Jets may be interested in signing.
Then there is the salary cap. There are exhausting efforts that go into managing the team’s salary cap. Talent acquisition and the salary cap go hand-in-hand. The cap number in 2022 is $208.2 million, which means the Jets have $49.1 million to work with for the sake of player acquisition.
The cap is a science of its own, which I learned working under Mike Tannenbaum back when he was the Jets’ capologist. I was in charge of maintaining Tannenbaum’s salary-cap board in his office. Each player on the Jets had a card up on a magnetic wall with their cap number on it. If we were interested in acquiring a certain player, I was given assignments to research and compare other player’s statistics and cap numbers around the league, for the sake of potential negotiations.
The college scouting department, along with team General Manager Joe Douglas and Director of Player Personnel, Chad Alexander, will have the Senior Bowl in Alabama coming up in the first week in February. The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is during the first week in March. There are seven additional college all-star games sprinkled in between now and mid-February where draft talent will be showcased and team personnel will be assigned to attend. The pro scouting department will chip in and help where they can in draft preparations at these different events. Additionally, there are many pro-days to attend, where top prospects will go through drills in private workouts.
College scouts have already been out on the road working around the clock for months now going from college to college, canvassing the nation for talent. However, there is no down time. There are all-star games, pro days, and the Combine. There are weeks worth of daily pre-draft meetings to attend. It is during this time the Jets will organize their draft board.
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The free agency signing and trading period begins on March 16, as trades are a whole other way of acquiring talent. The NFL draft is from April 28-30.
April 18 is the start of off-season workouts for the players on the team.
May is a rookie mini-camp for three days.
There is other work that needs to be done as well. The coaching staff will be holding meetings and putting together their playbooks. The pro scouting department will be updating team rosters and the Canadian Football League needs to be evaluated. Additionally, there will be hundreds of unsolicited packages arriving at team headquarters of college and pro level free agents who are “looking for a shot,” that have to be looked at and responded to, as you never know which one could be that diamond in the rough.
June is the one month of vacation time on the NFL calendar.
July is the start of training camp and then it starts all over again.
There is so much that goes into it before the Jets put the ball on the tee and begin the 2022 regular season.
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