The writing was on the wall the entire time when Jets GM Joe Douglas was targeting Greg Van Roten in free agency.
A kid from Long Island. Grew up a Jets fan. And his childhood team needed help on the offensive line...badly.
So when Van Roten finally signed a three-year deal to join the Jets, it all came full circle for him.
"This was my team growing up," Van Roten told The Athletic's Connor Hughes in an in-depth interview. "And now I have a chance to go home, play here, play in front of friends and family toward the end of my career? It's a dream come true."
Van Roten just turned 30 last month, so he's over that proverbial curve where NFL players begin their decline toward retirement. But that's not what Douglas and the Jets are thinking about. They see a player that has worked hard to find a home in the NFL, and they want that home to be New York -- at least for the next three years.
Hughes' profile on Douglas talks about his days of being rejected as a top lineman, whether it was after he the University of Pennsylvania after Yale told him they didn't believe him to be a Division I football player. There is also the fact that after a stint in the CFL following two years in the NFL with the Packers in 2012 and 2013, no NFL team wanted him.
The Jaguars would eventually sign him to a two-year pact, but they cut him before he even made it to training camp. The Panthers, then, became his last option after they saw him during a workout.
"I did not think what would happen if this didn't work out," Van Roten said about his meeting with Carolina. "This was it. I knew training camp started the next day. I needed this to go well. I had no other choice."
Van Roten made the 53-man roster, but it wouldn't be until 2018 when injuries to the starting linemen in Carolina forced the Panthers to put him in at guard. And what happened was Van Roten making the most of his opportunity.
"'Greg made it impossible for us to cut him. It was impossible,' " a coach told his mother, Cathy Van Roten.
After a full 16-game season in 2018 and another solid showing last season, Van Roten hit the open market again, but this time knew that teams would be calling. And he must be happy the Jets needed to fill some holes as well as Douglas loving what he saw. As Hughes says, the interest was there from the start and it didn't let up until they signed the $10.5 million deal.
"I know a lot of people chase the money," Van Roten said. "I understand that. But I wanted to go somewhere where they wanted me and I was valued. It says a lot that they showed so much interest early on. They were the first team we heard from, and they stuck with us day in and day out to check in throughout the process."
So, after all that moving around, Van Roten -- who said "I'm just beginning my prime" -- is thinking about retirement in a different way. He wants to stay in one place, and why not make it one he is extremely comfortable in?
"If I'm healthy and able, I want to play as long as I can. For it to be with the Jets? It would be incredible," he said.