As the NFL offseason has journeyed through the speculation stage and part one of free agency, it’s become clear that the New York Jets are looking for a true number one wide receiver.
If they can find him, it’ll set up quarterback Zach Wilson with a plus core of weapons to throw to. General manager Joe Douglas already added talent like Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Michael Carter to this group in 2021, and then tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in 2022.
When you consider the improvements that were made on the O-line, one could argue that this Jets offense is a premier wide receiver away from becoming a top-10 unit. Yes, I actually just said that, and no, you’re not dreaming.
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If at First, You Don’t Succeed…
Douglas has struck out trying to add a true WR1 multiple times since taking over as Jets GM. First, he drafted Denzel Mims in round two of the 2020 draft. He also signed a stop-gap like Breshad Perriman to bandage up the wound.
Neither of those attempts was even close to a solution. He did better in 2021, signing Davis and drafting Moore, but both profile as really good secondary options.
Davis has always flourished in this role, as a former underachieving top-10 pick known for his ability as a possession receiver and his run-blocking prowess. Moore’s game is the polar opposite — dynamic and explosive — but he lacks the size of a true NFL WR1.
After a fleury of perceived misses by the fanbase (Calvin Ridley, Chris Godwin, Mike Williams, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, Robert Woods and Tyreek Hill), Douglas is reportedly right back on the horse.
In a March 27 article, ESPN beat reporter Rich Cimini detailed the Jets’ mentality during the Hill fiasco before predicting where they might look next at WR.
“I can tell you this: General manager Joe Douglas was very interested,” Cimini wrote, “but the Jets always felt Hill preferred Miami, figuring he’d opt for South Beach if the money was close. Sure, they could’ve increased their offer, but they didn’t want to be reckless. They were venturing into reckless territory as it was, considering what he got from Miami — a three-year, $75 million extension.”
According to the veteran reporter, the next three wide-outs they’ll be monitoring are Seahawks adonis DK Metcalf, Titans star A.J. Brown, and 49ers playmaker Deebo Samuel — based on their upcoming contract negotiations.
“The market is blowing up, which might make it harder for their teams to re-sign them,” Cimini explained. “At this point, there’s no indication that any of them are available, but the Jets are keeping an eye on the situations, just in case.”
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A Trio of NYJ Ties
Most of us know the connections by now. Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur worked directly with Samuel in San Francisco, as the former pass-game coordinator of Kyle Shanahan’s system.
Metcalf and Brown are linked through Moore. The three Ole Miss receivers terrorized defenses together in college, and Brown is particularly close to the 2021 rookie as his ex-roommate and current confidant.
Douglas would probably take whichever of the three that he can get his hands on, but exactly how available are each of these rising talents?
We’ll begin with Metcalf, who first started coming up in trade rumors after the Russell Wilson departure. Last week on March 23, Jack Settleman of Snapback Sports accelerated the rumors when he tweeted that the Seahawks were “listening to offers” for Metcalf and that both the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers had inquired about his availability.
Seahawks GM John Schneider then fanned the flames by admitting that there is a “sense of shock” at the size of recent WR deals on SEASports710 radio.
Finally, ex-NFL QB Jake Heaps noted that he believes Seattle will trade their star wide receiver “before the draft,” on SEASports710 radio.
Brown opened the trade floodgates on March 26 as well, tweeting: “It’s out of my hands. God I trust you!”
Based on the Tennessee pass-catcher’s aforementioned relationship with Moore and even Davis, the Jets were immediately listed as a team to “watch” if Brown becomes available.
Jose Sanchez III of Sports Illustrated San Francisco also reported that there is a “fair possibility” Samuel is eventually moved. The Niners Swiss-army knife took to Twitter after Hill’s new contract details emerged with a simple expression, “hmmmm,” but the added eye-ball emoji got fans in a frenzy.
The Hill news may have ended in disappointment but Jets fans bounce back from heartbreak quicker than most. Like Douglas, this fanbase is ready to love again — and three new showstoppers just entered the bar.