New York Jets: Where Can Help Come From? AFC Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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January 8, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (89) during the first quarter of the 2011 AFC wild card playoff game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Two former Jets might hit the free agent market. Both Brad Smith and Jerricho Cotchery could be on the market as their teams either want to get younger or have a glut of new talent at wide receiver. Smith would fill the pistol/wildcat/returner role he played while with the Jets. However he is not a threat as a receiver nor as a quarterback and teams seem to have figured out straight running quarterbacks who are not dual threats. Jerricho Cotchery has struggled the last two years with Pittsburgh after leaving the Jets. He made some clutch grabs but with only 33 in the last two years that might not be enough to keep his roster spot in Pittsburgh or garner one in New York.

The Jets may try to catch lightning in a bottle with some players who have high upside but haven’t had everything click yet in their career. Damien Williams of the Tennessee Titans had 45 receptions for 592 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011 and finds himself buried on the depth chart in Tennessee and might shake free in final roster cuts. Marvin McNutt is a big, physical wide receiver that had 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior year at Iowa. He was drafted by Philadelphia last year in the 6th round and came up from the practice squad after week 12. He was cut in the offseason and signed immediately by Miami but he remains on the roster bubble even there. LaVon Brazill is a 6th round pick of the Colts that averaged nearly 17 yards per reception in his rookie season but finds himself behind Wayne, Hilton, and Heyward-Bey. Da’Rick Rogers has looked good for Buffalo so far on the field, if he can manage to avoid off the field issues and Buffalo tries to put him on the practice squad the Jets might be wise to put in a waiver claim.

Certain players would fill a specific need for the Jets as a punt returner if they hit the open market. Players like Marc Mariani who averages 24.8 yards per kickoff return and 11.2 yards per punt return would really help. With Darius Reynaud already returning for the Titans Mariani might be available. Trindon Holliday is another return specialist for the Broncos who might not have the roster space to keep one.

At the tight end position the Patriots always have a glut of quality players. Jake Ballard is finally close to 100% after the Patriots stole him from the Giants off of waivers and stashed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list last year. If Gronkowski and Hernandez are healthy and Fells and Hoomanawani also back someone has to go. Fells is a pure blocking tight end that the Jets are sorely missing and taking a chance on Ballard if available would be a cheap bet for a year.

Orson Charles was a 4th round pick in 2012 who starred at Georgia and was highly rated as a receiver and blocker. Charles fell to the 4th round due to a pre-draft DUI. He did not perform well in his rookie year and is now languishing behind Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert on the depth chart in Cincinnati. He is certainly worthy of a second chance. Tony Moeaki may be on his way out of Kansas City as he is in the final year of his rookie contract and the team drafted Travis Kelce out of Cincinnati and signed Anthony Fasano. Moeaki should be healthy for training camp from a knee scope and could be a trade target.

Next time I will look at NFC wide receivers and tight ends who might be available for the Jets as the offseason rolls on and following that we will explore the remaining free agents.

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