The Patriots’ draft-night trade with the Steelers didn’t end up disrupting the Jets’ plans at all.
When the deal happened on April 27, it appeared that Bill Belichick, again, had pulled off a deal that not only helped the Patriots but also — more importantly — messed with the Jets.
New England traded back from No. 14 to No. 17 with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh selected Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones, who’d been viewed as a possible target for the Jets and their offensive line.
But in a video released by the Jets on Friday, taking viewers behind the scenes ahead of their first-round pick, general manager Joe Douglas didn’t even have Jones as the Jets’ top target — that was Will McDonald, who they ultimately selected — and he correctly predicted that the Patriots would make a trade, the Steelers would be the partner and Pittsburgh would ultimately select Jones.
“I bet somebody is going to trade up in front of us for Broderick Jones with New England,” Douglas said during the video before predicting that team would be Pittsburgh.
Ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, the offensive line emerged as a position of need for the Jets to solidify after their offseason trade for Aaron Rodgers.
They ended up selecting Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann in the second round and Pittsburgh offensive lineman Carter Warren in the fourth round, but when the Patriots and Steelers swapped first-round picks — in addition to Pittsburgh parting with a 2023 fourth-round pick — everything circulated back to its impact on the Jets.
“Bill will try to screw them over any chance he gets,” an anonymous NFL personnel executive told The Washington Post. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”
Following the trade, Douglas and the Jets waited for Pittsburgh to submit its pick, which would then put the Jets on the clock at No. 15.
The draft-room group, earlier in the video, had listed McDonald, Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and Jones as the top three players on their list.
And in the end, the car-jumping linebacker from Iowa State was still available when Douglas needed to make his selection.
“Call Wilbert,” Douglas said, referring to McDonald — the fourth generation in his family with the same name — by his full name.
It appears that the Jets, even after Belichick’s move, got exactly who they wanted.
“With Aaron [Rodgers] here, hopefully, we’re playing with a few more leads, and we’ve got a guy who can close the door on some offenses and get to the quarterback,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said following the NFL Draft’s first round. “He’s just got a unique ability to catch the corner, and he’s got elite length to get the ball out. He’s going to be special.”