The NY Jets lost Robby Anderson in free agency. Here are the top six possible replacements the team should explore to fill the void at wide receiver.
The 2020 offseason has proven to be quite the honeymoon period for NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas. He has filled many voids on the roster with carefully thought out affordable deals.
It’s a far cry from what Jets fans are used to with general managers making free agency decisions. For instance just last year the green and white doled out over $100 million in guaranteed money. This offseason things have gone a lot differently.
Douglas has prided himself on value and sticking to his guns. Gang Green had over 20 pending in-house free agents heading to the open market and several of them were fan favorites like Jordan Jenkins, Brian Poole, and even Robby Anderson.
Instead of overpaying he decided on a value for each player, allowed them to test the market, and two of those three players returned on reasonable one-year deals for $5 million. That didn’t happen with Robby Anderson.
On Tuesday evening, Anderson signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers reuniting him with his former coach Matt Rhule. With Anderson heading out the door, the Jets are suddenly left with a massive hole at the wide receiver position.
Candidly, the Jets were in the market for a wide receiver regardless of whether or not Anderson decided to return to the green and white. So what do the Jets do now?
Shortly after the news was announced, the team quickly pivoted to signing Breshad Perriman to a one-year deal on a low risk vs high reward kind of move. While that’s a nice move, there’s still much work that needs to be done.
We cooked up six possible replacement plans for Anderson that the Jets should explore this offseason.
Next: 6. The most likely situation
6. Day 2 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft (second or third-round pick)
The most likely answer to the NY Jets’ woes is the 2020 NFL Draft. Gang Green has eight selections and four picks in the top-80. That includes a first-round pick (11th overall), a second-round pick (48th overall), and a pair of third-round picks (68th overall and 79th overall).
As a matter of fact (shameless plug) in our latest 7-round, 2020 NY Jets mock draft (which you can read in its’ entirety here) that is the strategy we employed. On Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft (the second and third round) we double-dipped at wide receiver.
Our selections were: Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State and Michael Pittman Jr out of USC. The pair added size and speed to the Jets’ receiving core.
But even if you don’t like either of those receivers, the second day of the draft should provide ample opportunities to add some big-time playmakers:
- Laviska Shenault, wide receiver, Colorado
- Jalen Reagor, wide receiver, TCU
- Tee Higgins, wide receiver, Clemson
- Denzel Mims, wide receiver, Baylor
- KJ Hamler, wide receiver, Penn State
- Bryan Edwards, wide receiver, South Carolina
- Van Jefferson, wide receiver, Florida
- Chase Claypool, wide receiver, Notre Dame
It took Robby Anderson over a week to find a home after the legal tampering period and free agency. A big reason for that was because of the perceived depth of the 2020 NFL Draft. A lot of NFL teams believe they can get comprable talent at a lesser rate in the draft, so why pay free agents?
For this very reason and due to the overall depth of the class, wide receivers are inevitably going to fall in the 2020 NFL Draft. This will benefit the NY Jets on the second day of the draft. One way or another a few of the players listed above will be available in the second and third rounds respectively. This would be the most prudent way for the team to fill the void on the roster at wide receiver.
Next: 5. A likely trade partner
5. Curtis Samuel (trade)
Let’s get a little funky here, with Robby Anderson going to Carolina, perhaps the NY Jets can still benefit?
Here’s a look at the top three wide receivers on the depth chart for the Panthers: DJ Moore, Anderson, and Curtis Samuel. While a lot of NFL offenses utilize three wide receivers, it’s a luxury to have that much youth and speed all at one position.
With Anderson coming in, Curtis Samuel suddenly becomes expendable.
The former second-round pick is young 23 (will turn 24 by the start of the 2020 season) and has no connections to the new coaching staff that was just ushered in this offseason led by Matt Rhule.
In his first three years in the league Curtis has only scratched the surface of his potential:
2017: 15 receptions for 115 yards and zero touchdowns.
2018: 39 catches for 494 yards and five touchdowns.
2019: 54 receptions for 627 yards and six touchdowns.
So what would it cost to get him?
We’re speculating a bit here, but originally Samuel was a second-round pick and has shown flashes in the league. Also, reasonable expectation leads us to believe that others around the league will call the Panthers to gauge their interest in moving Curtis Samuel. In essence, this could create a quasi-bidding war for his services.
So in this potential trade, the Jets surrender a fourth-round pick and one of their two sixth-round draft choices for a young wide receiver with a lot of upside.
Also, Samuel is entering the last year of his rookie contract for $1.3 million. Once the Jets trade for him, they could immediately hand him a long-term sensible extension or they could play it out and see what happens in 2020. At the end of the year, if they liked what they saw, they can re-sign him ahead of free agency.
Next: 4. Dip into the draft waters
Another possible avenue for the NY Jets is cashing in their 11th overall draft choice on a premium weapon.
We’re less than a month away from the 2020 NFL Draft and after studying things very closely, it doesn’t appear that many teams in front of Gang Green would be willing to take a wide receiver in the top-10 of the draft.
The only loose possibility that exists is the Jacksonville Jaguars who hold the No. 9 pick and even they have a litany of needs that could be quenched by going in a different direction.
Here are perceived absolute locks that will be taken ahead of the 11th overall pick: Joe Burrow (quarterback, LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (quarterback, Alabama), Chase Young (cornerback, Ohio State), Jeff Okudah (cornerback, Ohio State), Isaiah Simmons (linebacker, Clemson), and Justin Herbert (quarterback, Oregon).
Yet we haven’t mentioned a single offensive lineman (and four are perceived potential top-10 picks in Mekhi Becton, Louisville; Andrew Thomas, Georgia; Tristan Wirfs, Iowa; and Jedrick Wills Jr, Alabama).
So with that being said, the NY Jets are likely to have their pick of the litter in the first round of all the available wide receivers.
If Jerry Jeudy of Alabama is on the clock, it’ll be a hard temptation to pass on.
Jeudy is one of the best route-runners we’ve ever seen and that is a trait that always seems to translate at the next level. With the Crimson Tide Jerry lined up in the slot and on the outside. He really checks off every box you look for at wide receiver and the only criticism if you wanted to make one would be he dropped a few noncontested balls in his final season at Alabama.
The problem with Jerry Jeudy is simple, he’s been overanalyzed. We’ve known for a long time that he was going to be one of the top wide receiver prospects. So his tape has been combed over a few too many times, but know this, he would instantly be the No. 1 wideout for the Jets for many years to come.
Next: 3. Blockbuster trade package
3. Odell Beckham Jr (trade)
Here’s another very creative trade scenario that could work out for all parties involved.
The NY Jets have wanted Odell Beckham Jr since he was a member of the LSU Tigers back in college. Unfortunately, Rex Ryan was unable to convince John Idzik to trade up in the draft or perhaps things could’ve gone a lot differently.
Then last year a report surfaced that OBJ wanted to return to the big apple, but with the Jets. There have been a lot of apparent rifts with Beckham and the Cleveland Browns which means he could be had.
Also, the other reason he could be available is the regime change on 1 Browns Drive. The general manager and head coach combination that pulled the trigger on the original OBJ trade are no longer working for Cleveland.
So the new front office has no direct ties to OBJ and thus, in theory, would be more amenable to making a deal.
In this potential package, the Jets flip a very valuable 2020 second-round pick, a 2021 fifth-round pick (which originally was the NY Giants via the Leonard Williams trade) and to sweeten the pot a veteran interior guard in Brian Winters.
Winters could be a cap casualty for the Jets (the final year of his $7.3 million contract features no guarantees) but could be a nice commodity on a desperate offensive line in Cleveland that is desperate for answers.
While some fans may be hesitant to surrender a second-round draft choice, it’s important to note how talented OBJ is.
When healthy Odell has proven to be one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the league. While there have been some weird issues with his personality, he’s a talented freak on an affordable deal.
Beckham is under contract for the next four years at an average value of $15 million per season (which is over $7 million less than the highest-paid receiver in the league, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons).
This would be a splash addition, but an effective one that would provide Sam Darnold a legitimate All-Pro weapon to build around.
Next: 2. LA to NY connection?
The Jets Zone w/ @BoyGreen25 feat @RichCimini:– Fact or fiction on #TakeFlight free agency rumors.– Which FAs #Jets are trying to re-sign ahead of next week.– Joe Douglas, Ozzie Newsome relationship details.– Latest on Quinnen Williams.– Tom Brady?!https://t.co/yWFRXUrPzb
— The Jets Zone (@TheJets_Zone) March 12, 2020
2. Brandin Cooks? Robert Woods? Cooper Kupp?
Speaking from a point of view that includes over two decades of schooling from pre-school to elementary to intermediate to middle school to high school to an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree, everyone loves multiple-choice questions.
It gives everyone a fighting chance to get a question right. When something is fill in the blank, you either know it, or you don’t.
Believe me, the NY Jets want and need choices to fill the void at wide receiver this offseason. The perfect team that they should call is the Los Angeles Rams. After just appearing in the Super Bowl a few years ago, the team is now burning alive in salary cap hell.
They have the 10th lowest salary cap space of any NFL team currently, per Over The Cap.
The Rams are desperate to shed salary and they have a few contracts at the wide receiver position they can move.
If the NY Jets want to go bargain shopping this offseason, the Rams are a likely team to make things happen.
The player the team should target first is Robert Woods.
He’s 27 (will turn 28 by the start of the 2020 season) and has two years remaining on his contract at a great price: 2020 ($7 million) and 2021 ($8 million).
Also, the last two years have been the best of his career:
2018: 86 receptions for 1,219 yards and six touchdowns.
2019: 90 catches for 1,134 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets have also looked into speedster Brandin Cooks who would make sense (we broke down that potential move in full here).
Finally, Cooper Kupp is entering the last year of his deal ($2.1 million). He’s 26 (will be 27 by the start of the 2020 season) and the Rams may want to flip him for some compensation instead of paying him a hefty extension.
Any one of these options would make sense, Cooks is the most likely to be moved, although the Rams would be open to moving any of them for the right price and to clear cap space.
Next: 1. The top option for NYJ
While finally, the option that is the most appealing is using the No. 11 overall pick on CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma.
Lamb has been a late riser up the boards since the season ended. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound wide receiver does his best work once the ball is in his hands. He has amazing hands, is a competitive football freak, and can get creative when attacking the ball in the air.
In the Sooners offense, he wasn’t asked to run a dynamic route tree and he isn’t a blazer. His inability to separate or create things vertically consistently may turn some people off, but he’s such a fantastic football player.
When you evaluate all the options on our list, the draft ones are the most realistic. They are also the simplest, the team can simply pull the trigger on draft day to land any one of those prospects.
Although the draft is basically the lottery. It features an array of unproven collegiate stars that may or may not be able to contribute immediately. While some of our trade packages will require draft capital, they also provide players that can step in immediately to the lineup and are proven commodities.
With the loss of Robby Anderson, it just highlights the fact that the Jets need to upgrade the skill positions around Sam Darnold. Right now the Jets are worse off at receiver than they were in 2019 and that’s hard to believe. It’s up to general manager Joe Douglas to fix that whether through trade or the 2020 NFL Draft.