Their instinct is to be aggressive. When they see a player they think can help them, they almost always make a call. And the Jets made plenty of calls in the days leading up to the trading deadline, according to multiple league sources.
But they were right not to make a deal - including for Dante Fowler, who on the surface sure looked like the edge rusher they so desperately need.
It may not be what fans want to hear, not when the Jets are 3-5, depleted by injuries, and in danger of their season slipping away. But don't ever forget that the Jets' rebuilding plan is not focused on this season. They know, even if they'll never admit it, that they're not a playoff contender this season. This season is about evaluating what they have, developing Sam Darnold, and building towards making a playoff run next year.
That's why, when they called the Jacksonville Jaguars about Fowler, they weren't willing to match the price paid by the Los Angeles Rams. The Jags got a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 first-round pick from the Rams, who are 8-0 and clearly gunning for a Super Bowl championship this season. Trading for Fowler, a 24-year-old pass rusher who'll be a free agent in March, is a smart, win-now move that can add to a defense that is already loaded.
The Jets just aren't a win-now team. So why give up two valuable picks - especially a second-day pick this year - for a guy the Jets could just sign in March if they really want him?
They don't need him as a two-month rental. He can't help save their season this year. And that's true even before getting to the fact that he only has two sacks, carries some off-field baggage, and the Jaguars were so down on him they didn't pick up the fifth-year option on the former No. 3 overall pick.
The Jets were just as smart to stay out of the receiver market, even though that is a position where they desperately need help. They looked into receiver Amari Cooper before he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick last week, a source confirmed.
Denver traded Demaryius Thomas to the Texans and Detroit traded Golden Tate to the Eagles, and both of them are far better than anyone the Jets have on their roster. But both are 30 years old, Tate will be a free agent in March, and Thomas would have cost them $14 million next season. They'll be better off finding a receiver in free agency, or the draft.
Because that's how good teams do it. They don't make panic moves. They don't mortgage their future in trades to plug holes in the short term while they're trying to rebuild. They keep their eyes on the long-term prize. And the fact is the Jets have a fairly full complement of draft picks in April (they traded their second-rounder in a package for Darnold, but own the Saints third-rounder that they got for Teddy Bridgewater), and possibly more salary cap space than any team in the league for free agency next March.
They will have plenty of time and resources to continue building their future. That's so much smarter than making a big, but ill-advised splash now.