Jets Get Their Man, Hire Joe Douglas
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Joe Douglas went out a winner in Philadelphia.
Hours after taking part in the 2019 Eagles coaches' golf tourney and being part of the winning foursome with Doug Pederson, Jeffrey Lurie and Press Taylor, Douglas agreed to a six-year deal to become the new general manager of the New York Jets.
Douglas was always the first choice for the Jets but negotiations were a little trickier than expected as the now former Eagles vice president of player personnel sought significant assurances from an organization that has been dysfunctional in the past, assurances not only tied into his own deal but also the budget for the department.
Complicating matters was that New York coach Adam Gase and Douglas have the same agent, Jimmy Sexton, who was always aware that Gase wanted Douglas to be running personnel with the Jets and had that inside information to play hardball.
Others interviewed by New York for the job were Scott Fitterer, the Seattle Seahawks co-director of player personnel, Champ Kelly, the Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel and Terry Fontenot but each of those names were a distant Plan B for Gase.
The only candidate who could have derailed Douglas was Minnesota assistant GM George Paton, who has turned the Jets down three times over the years for interviews.
Earlier this week the Jets followed up with all four candidates, according to a league source, and began mapping out the logistics for a hire, including salary as well as the plan for support staff and the budget that would encompass.
Douglas turned down the Jets first offer and spent the week back in Philadelphia attending OTA practices as Sexton attempted to hammer out a better deal which came to fruition on Friday.
Douglas was hired by the Eagles in May of 2016 after spending a year in Chicago where he bonded with Gase. Before that Douglas cut his teeth for 15 years in Baltimore under the highly-regarded Ozzie Newsome.
In Philadelphia Douglas helped build back-to-back playoff rosters and the Super Bowl LII team in 2017-18, putting him on the fast track to becoming a GM.
The Eagles blocked Douglas from interviewing with the Houston Texans for their GM job in January of 2018 and have been preparing to lose him dating back months, something Lurie alluded to the league meetings back in March.
"At some point, we are going to lose executives," the Eagles owner said. "When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives. I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that. We don’t want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake."
Last August Lurie extended executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson. Notably absent was added years for Douglas.
"Joe is an important member of our player personnel staff," Lurie said at the time. "I won't talk about anyone else's contract today, but Joe is a valued member of our staff and contributes as do many, many people that never get written about."
A league source told 973espn.com at the time that Douglas was very happy in the organization but definitely has ambition and would like to be a GM somewhere in the league.
"It would have to be the right fit," the source said. "Winning is important."
The templates for the Eagles at the time were Eric DeCosta in Baltimore and Paton, both long-time lieutenants who have eschewed many offers to move on over the years because they enjoy where they work.
DeCosta was rewarded when he took over for Newsome as the Ravens GM following the 2018 season while Paton was giving the title of VP of player personnel and assistant GM as he interns under Rick Spielman.
Douglas, though, understood his value and didn't want an extension bogging down his ability to interview when the right fit did emerge.
Meanwhile, the great position Lurie referenced was the Eagles succession plan, presumably Andrew Berry, who was hired as vice president of football operations back in February after running personnel in Cleveland for Sashi Brown.
The next big question for the Eagles is whether Douglas will be able to take any of his staff with him up the New Jersey Turnpike. The most likely candidates would be his right-hand man Andy Weidl as well as Ian Cunningham, the director of college scouting, and Casey Weidl, Andy's younger brother and another member of Philadelphia's personnel staff.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen