Jets Fan Favorite Will Take on ‘a Little Bit More of a Leadership Role’

Braxton Berrios

Getty New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios (right) celebrates with teammates on January 2, 2022.

Go back a few months ago and it was unclear whether the New York Jets would make a strong enough effort to re-sign wide receiver Braxton Berrios — who became a glue guy down the stretch for Zach Wilson and this offense.

Of course, Berrios is best known for his All-Pro abilities as a returner but the added playmaking prowess really upped his value heading into the offseason. Fortunately, general manager Joe Douglas was able to get a new contract done during the very early stages of free agency, pleasing his quarterback as well as his fanbase.

You see, the speedy slot receiver has elevated into a fan favorite and an underrated linchpin in recent seasons. Not only is he practically Wilson’s best bud, but Berrios has also become one of the better-respected veterans on this roster — and head coach Robert Saleh voiced as much on June 8.

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The Leader We Needed

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During a press conference at organized team activities (OTAs), Coach Saleh took some time to praise the hard-working 5-foot-9 Swiss army knife that Berrios has turned into.

“He’s so smart, so versatile,” Saleh began. “He can play Z, he can play the X, he can play the F, he can do all the gadgets, he’s a returner — so really happy he’s here.”

The Jets HC then detailed his role inside the locker room: “Obviously, his role is a little bit more of a leadership role. I think guys look up to him in the way he works and the way he does things.”

When you look at this Jets roster, it’s still incredibly young, especially on offense. Outside of the offensive line and a couple of recent signings like C.J. Uzomah or Tyler Conklin, there are very few veterans on this side of the ball.

At wide receiver, it’s mainly just Corey Davis and Berrios and they’re only in their late-20s. In terms of years with the organization, however, the nifty slot receiver is now the vet.

Berrios joined the Green & White as a waiver claim in 2019 after the New England Patriots released him just one year into his rookie contract. Bill Belichick had spent a sixth-round selection on the special teams ace but after a season on the injured reserve, the Jets’ rival decided to take a chance and cut him.

Douglas then snatched him up as one of his first moves on the job and the rest is history.

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‘There’s a Comfort Level With Braxton’

The Danny Woodhead revenge is sweet but most of us never expected Berrios to become such an important piece. We mentioned the leadership and the special teams contributions but offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur actually leaned on the wide receiver toward the end of 2021.

With injuries at wide receiver, Berrios outplayed veteran Jamison Crowder and gave Wilson a reliable safety net on offense. Coach Saleh talked more about the chemistry between the slot and his quarterback.

“I think it’s all-encompassing,” he told reporters. “I think there’s a chemistry with the coordinator and it took a little bit of learning in that first year, but I think there’s a comfort level with Braxton, knowing that he’s going to be exactly where he needs to be every single play. And I think that’s not only comforting for the coaches but that’s comforting for the quarterback… It’s easy to get people the football when you’re confident in them, and it’s a credit to Braxton with the way he works.”

The Jets’ wide receiver corps has the potential to be extremely fluid in 2022 and Berrios is a big part of that. Saleh stressed versatility during today’s press conference and that means players won’t be locked into set positions.

Sure, Berrios is a slot receiver at his core but fans should expect weapons like Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore and the aforementioned Davis to move around. Saleh called it the “philosophy” of this system, but one could also say it’s a tremendous strength.

If you can keep a defense off-balance, you’re going to win on most downs and score on most possessions. That’s the goal for Wilson, LaFleur and this unit in year two.

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