“Scotty, I need warp speed in three minutes or we’re all dead”

                             -Captain Kirk, Wrath of Kahn

  The Jets finished the season with the second worst record in the NFL, but the anticipation of what comes next is already upon us. It will be a combination of Captain Kirk demanding Scotty to get the ship up to warp speed together with the world’s pursuit of a cure for the Covid-19 virus. Time is of the essence! I see Joe Douglas working fast and furious right away, beginning with choosing a head coach. There will be no search committees, recommendations from former GM’s or phone calls from Peyton Manning on this one. Douglas knows what is on the line, committing six years out of his life to straighten out a franchise that has been digging a black hole for ten years. He’ll move fast. He’ll get his head coach, sign free agents and complete his due diligence for the draft. He has already made up his mind about Sam Darnold. You can bank on that! But we will have to wait to learn his decision. He knows he made a mistake not resigning Robby Anderson. He’ll learn from that. There will be enough things happening this off season to keep Jet fans focused on the sport that now encompasses 12 months a year. With social media, there will an endless number of falsehoods being spread by people who seek a spike in readership, advertising clicks or even slants by agents. As fans, we can’t overreact to everything we hear. Just like one local writer wrote earlier in the year that Logan Ryan will probably sign with the Jets and it turned out to be totally untrue. Let’s all look for multiple confirmations.  And unlike Wall Street, fans shouldn’t buy the rumor. Here is the NFL calendar for the next few months and how each affects the New York Jets

                                  NFL Important Dates

Feb. 7-Super Bowl

Feb. 23 - March 9: Franchise/Transition Player Designation Period

March 17: 2021 league year begins

April 5: Start of offseason workouts for teams with new head coaches

April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with incumbent coaches

April 23: Last day of restricted free agent signing period

April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for RFAs

April 29 - May 1: 2021 NFL Draft

May 3-If teams want to exercises 5th year option, they must do it by this date.

Feb. 7-Super Bowl

The only way this affects the Jets is picking a new head coach. Say they want the Baltimore Raven’s Wink Martindale. They may have to wait until they are eliminated from the playoffs. The coaching hiring rules have changed but it is still somewhat a gray area. The biggest negative in waiting is trying to gather a quality staff before they are enticed by other teams.

Feb. 23 - Feb.27-NFL scouting combine takes place. This is when the players work out and highlight their athletic prowess and skill set. Teams get a chance to personally interview players. So if Joe Douglas (JD) wants to speak in person to Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, this is the time to do it! The scouting combine this year is even more important than in the past because this an opportunity for the players that opted out in 2020 to show that their athletic skills haven’t diminished.

Feb. 23 - March 9-Franchise/Transition Player Designation Period

The franchise tag is what the New England Patriots did when they tagged 28 year old guard Joe Thuney last year. The Pats probably won’t tag him this year so look for the Jets to make a run at him. 

Transition tags pay a player the average of the 10 highest-paid players at his position.With a transition tag, a player is allowed to negotiate with other teams. The player's current team can match any offer given to a transition-tagged player, but the team will not be given compensation if it decides not to match. If Pittsburgh Steeler 28 year old OLB Bud Dupree is tagged as a transition player by them, and the Jets sign him for 4 years $80 million, the Steelers can match the Jets offer. 

March 17: 2021. This is the date the official league year begins. Free agent signings begin March 18 at 4pm. JD’s wish list may include:Guards Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff. Edge players: Matt Judon, Bud Dupree, Yannick Ngakoue. There will be others. Don’t look for more than one or two big signings. JD will shop smart, not big. No Trumaine Johnson contracts.

April 5: Start of offseason workouts for teams with new head coaches.

The Jets will have a new coach so this is when he can start his off season workouts. This is huge and will be important because due to Covid in 2020 these workouts were limited and then cancelled. This is valuable time when a Zach Wilson or Justin Fields can begin to establish some bonding and chemistry with teammates like Denzel Mims and Chris Herndon. And remember, the Jets have a lot of draft picks and will have a ton of rookies and second year players on the roster and should be one of the youngest teams in 2021.

April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with incumbent coaches.

Teams like the Bills, Dolphins and Patriots will begin their off season workouts.

April 23: Last day of restricted free agent signing period.

April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for RFAs

April 29 - May 1: 2021 NFL Draft 

Now the fun really begins. Joe Douglas has accumulated 9 picks in the first 6 rounds. This includes two first round picks, one second, two thirds, one fourth, two fifths, one sixth. Knowing the way he works, look for the Jets to accumulate more picks prior or during draft day. Mock drafts will be plentiful in the coming weeks. 

May 3-If teams want to exercises a 5th year option , they must do it by this date.

This is a biggie. Keep Sam Darnold or don’t keep him. The Jacksonville Jaguars are locked into Trevor Lawrence. Zach Wilson keeps rising up on all the charts.

Justin Fields played an incredible game against Clemson. His value is also increasing, which is good because it raises the value of the Jets pick.

This is the biggest player personnel decision Joe Douglas will make thus far in his job. Stay tuned!

While the NFL has scheduled off season workouts, no decision has yet been made as to the fate of pre-season games.This post season will be one of the most interesting for the Jets in recent times though every post season seems to be the highlight for the team. Things will work out as long as the Johnson brothers let Joe Douglas do his job. Picking the right head coach is the key for the organization! Let the real season begin!  Live long and prosper!

Marty Schupak has been a New York Jets football fan since 1964. His blog and Podcast are both at: www.JetsRewind.com

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