The forgotten man in the new look receiving core of the New York Jets is easily Jeremy Kerley. It’s easy to forget about him with names like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall in front of him on the depth chart. The player known as ‘”Kerley Fries” or at least that’s what I call him anyways, is in for a huge season in 2015. Let’s take a look at his career statistics for the Jets, from Pro Football Reference:
2014 – 38 Receptions 409 Yards 10.8 Avg 1 Receiving Touchdown
2013 – 43 Receptions 523 Yards 12.2 Avg 3 Receiving Touchdowns
2012 – 56 Receptions 827 Yards 14.8 Avg 2 Receiving Touchdowns
2011 – 29 Receptions 314 Yards 10.8 Avg 1 Receiving Touchdown
Career Totals: 166 Receptions 2,073 Yards 12.5 Avg 7 Receiving Touchdowns
Rex Ryan and John Idzik inked Kerley to a new deal last fall securing him for the next 4 seasons. Here’s what it came down to from ESPN’s Rich Cimini:
On Tuesday, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley signed a four-year contract extension with the New York Jets. The initial reports said the deal was valued at $16 million, but it’s actually $14 million in new money, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It includes a $3 million signing bonus; $3.84 million is fully guaranteed at the time of signing.
Entering a new regime this offseason with general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, it’s not uncommon for players ‘with no-ties’ to a new front office to be labeled expendable. But Maccagnan wasted no time sharing his excitement for Kerley this upcoming season. Here is what he had to say in an article also written by Cimini:
“In particular, I do like Kerley a little bit,” he said. “I’ve kind of scouted him coming out of college a while ago. I’m kind of excited to see him get a few more reps than he got last year in terms of his playing time.”
Maccagnan must envision a significant role for Kerley, because he played in 67 percent of the offensive snaps last season, second among receivers on the team to Eric Decker’s 75 percent.
Cimini read between the lines suggesting the Jets would ignore the receiver position in the draft. But that ended up not being the case as the Jets used their 2nd round pick on deep threat Devin Smith from Ohio State University. But even with the additions of Marshall via trade and Smith via the draft, I still envision Kerley having a career year in 2015.
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I don’t see the additions as a negative for Kerley; I actually see them as a positive. He is a dynamic slot receiver who can create space and separation with the best of them. But in his 4 years in green and white, he hasn’t had much help around him.
Whether it be from the enigmatic quarterback position or the revolving door at the receiver position, at times Kerley was thrusted into the #1 receiver role for the Jets. Kerley will never be mistaken for a bonafide #1 receiver, but he has the ability to move the chains on a consistent basis.
Dec 1, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) returns a kickoff against Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams (34) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
With Marshall and Decker manning the outside spots and rookie Smith looking at rotational duty, Kerley finally has some help. Kerley is a mismatch nightmare. He is too quick for linebackers and it’s hard to find a safety that can match him step-for-step. If the Jets can get stability from the quarterback situation, which is stretching it, Kerley could get near his career totals across the board.
The one statistic as a Jets fan I would pay attention to is the receptions and touchdowns. I see Kerley having the ceiling of north of a 65 catch season with 5-6 touchdown receptions. I think in the red-zone Marshall and Decker having the bigger frames will warrant a lot more attention from opposing defenses. While Kerley will be overlooked and could be an X-factor for the Jets this upcoming season.