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

By Craig Hoffman
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This week the Jets invited tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker to the mandatory mini-camp that starts Tuesday at Florham Park for a tryout. Winslow would be an excellent option at tight end and Sims-Walker would be adequate depth at wide receiver. However both have a history of injuries so while I hope their tryouts work out (especially Winslow) the team still needs to be on the lookout for help at both positions.

Last time we looked at AFC players that could help, you can see that article here. Today we look at the NFC. The team that has the greatest depth at wide receiver is the Philadelphia Eagles. Nobody quite knows what to expect with Chip Kelly and his high-powered offense coming in from Oregon except that it will be fast and wide open. They have Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Greg Salas, Arrelious Benn, and Demaris Johnson. Avant is not the speed receiver that Kelly craves (4.73 40 yard dash) he is more of a good route runner who knows how to get open. Demaris Johnson is a slot receiver on the rise who is a dangerous playmaker.

Arrelious Benn has been injury-riddled but he was a 2nd round pick with 4.4 speed. Greg Salas is versatile and can return punts and Riley Cooper is a big red zone target. The Eagles can’t keep all of them, especially with three starting caliber tight ends as well in James Casey who is a talented blocker, Brent Celek another talented blocker who has made a living catching balls up the seam and rookie Zach Ertz a well-rounded tight end from Stanford. According to Rotoworld, Celek is behind both Casey and Ertz on the Eagles early depth chart and Avant was working with the defensive backs briefly so those two might be available.

That is good news for the Jets because Celek would be a huge upgrade at tight end over Cumberland and Avant is a polished route runner that knows how to get open and would definitely improve the Jets offense. Add onto that, Marty Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia for the careers of Celek and Avant putting together a scenario that would make this a match made in heaven. I don’t think the Jets would be able to land both but they should be able to trade a mid to late round pick for either one once final roster cuts are near.

Oct 21, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Ramses Barden (13) before the game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The NFC East also has some other possibilities for the Jets. Once Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks clear up their contract issues and get back to the Giants’ circus the Giants will have 2011 3rd round pick Jerrel Jernigan and recently resigned Ramses Barden for one spot. Barden is 6’6″ and a huge target especially in the red zone. He is a player the Jets have had conversations with but were not ready to pull the trigger on when the Giants resigned him for the veteran minimum. Jernigan is a small receiver that has been mainly a return man that hasn’t been able to climb a crowded depth chart. One of them will be cut and whichever one is would provide nice depth for the Jets.

The Cowboys have Anthony Armstrong who is a big play threat that had 871 yards in 2010 for the Redskins and averaged 19.8 yards per reception. They cut him once and resigned him when he went to visit the Giants they might cut him again with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin,  3rd round pick Terrance Williams along with Dwayne Harris who is their best blocking wide receiver as well as an ascending talent they think can be their 3rd wide out. The Cowboys also have an excess at tight end with Jason Whitten, new draftee Gavin Escobar, newly signed Dante Rosario a blocker the Jets were interested in and James Hanna another good blocking tight end.

Either Rosario or Hanna should shake free and either would be a good option as blocking tight end is a weak spot for the Jets. Finally in the division the Redskins have more than their share of tight ends with Logan Paulsen a possession receiver who is a top ten blocking tight end, Niles Paul a converted receiver, 3rd round pick Jordan Reed and the tight end that almost was a Jet Fred Davis. If Paul works out it is possible that Davis could be cut if he is not all the way back from injury quick enough.

St Louis completely revamped their wide receiver core by letting Danny Amendola go to New England in free agency then moving ahead of the Jets to take Tavon Austin and then striking again later in the draft to steal Stedman Bailey. That to go along with last year’s second round pick Brian Quick, 2011 3rd round pick Austin Pettis and 2012 4th round pick and rising star Chris Givens. The Rams now have a glut of talent at the wide receiver position and could see a quality receiver like Pettis be the 5th wide receiver who could be traded to recoup some of the draft choices needed to land Austin. This is also a big offseason for Nick Toon in New Orleans who is coming off of a season-ending injury and is fighting for a 4th wide receiver spot. New Orleans always has a lot of receiving talent and if Toon is a surprise cut I’m sure Jets fans will welcome him home with open arms.

Green Bay has some interesting options at tight end since they kept Jermichael Finley. DJ Williams, the 2011 Mackey Award winner for the top collegiate tight end, has not emerged from Finley’s shadow is currently 4th on the depth chart. Andrew Quarless is a good blocking tight end that is coming off of a major knee injury. He is healthy now but is battling newly signed former Jet (thank God) Matthew Mulligan. Either Williams or Quarless could be an interesting option if available.

If Idzik looks to his former team the Seahawks Doug Baldwin might be a cheap trade option. An undrafted free agent who led the team in receiving two years ago he would be the 4th receiver and a special teams player as the team is currently constituted. Could he be more with the Jets?

As you can see there are options in the NFC ,especially with Mornhinweg’s old team the Philadelphia Eagles, for the Jets to find a few more helpful pieces. Next time I will take a look at the remaining street free agents to see if there are any more diamonds in the rough.

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