The NY Jets are still in desperate need of wide receiver help even after the 2020 NFL Draft and these four free agents could be worthwhile additions.
The NY Jets have done a decent job of improving many of the team’s biggest weaknesses this offseason. However, one position that remains just as inept as last season seems to be the wide receiver position.
The Jets had one of the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL last season and the loss of their top wideout, Robby Anderson, in the offseason certainly didn’t help matters.
They seemingly signed his replacement in Breshad Perriman, but the former first-round bust is far from a universal starting option. Yet, he’ll be tasked with being the team’s top outside receiver going into 2020.
Alongside him will be the ever-reliable Jamison Crowder in the slot and second-round rookie Denzel Mims. Mims has sky-high potential, but he’s far from a sure thing and the lack of a true training camp this year could affect the speed in which he develops.
And for a Jets team needing ready-made contributors right now, that’s not ideal.
Not to mention that the Jets are one injury away from starting the likes of Vyncint Smith, Braxton Berrios, or whoever else makes the roster. They have lackluster starting options and unproven depth — a recipe for disaster.
For that reason, it might not hurt to sign a veteran free agent to at least come in and provide some competition.
With that, let’s take a look at four free-agent wide receiver options the Jets could possibly target.
Next: 4. Demaryius Thomas
4. Demaryius Thomas
Let’s first start this list off with a disclaimer. None of the players on this list are great options and ideally, the Jets wouldn’t have to scavenge for depth receivers in the middle of May.
But this is far from an ideal scenario.
The Jets traded for Demaryius Thomas last September and the five-time Pro Bowler would go on to play in 11 games with the team hauling in 36 catches for 433 yards and a touchdown. Nothing special, but fine numbers considering the inept offense he was a part of.
Thomas is far from the most exciting option on the market, but he is experienced depth and a player who, at one point, was one of the best receivers in the NFL. Of course, father time catches up with everyone, but Thomas showed last season that he could still be reliable depth.
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Perhaps the best argument for his return comes with the fact that he already knows the system. With a ton of new faces in the Jets’ receiver corps, it will be very difficult to catch everyone up to speed given the uncertainty around training camp and the preseason.
Thomas wouldn’t have that problem and he could step up in Week 1 and see substantial snaps if need be. If Mims isn’t ready, Thomas could feasibly even begin the year as a starter on the outside.
Again, this is far from ideal and some might argue that it’s best to let the younger players on the roster fight for a spot. And to that point, it’s hard to argue that.
However, there isn’t much harm in signing him to a non-guaranteed contract and having him fight for a roster spot in the preseason. If anything, he’d be a much-needed veteran presence in a very inexperienced wide receiver room.
Next: 3. Paul Richardson
3. Paul Richardson
Another veteran name on the free-agent market is former Seattle Seahawks wideout Paul Richardson. After a somewhat successful four-year stint in Seattle, Richardson signed on with the Washington Redskins ahead of the 2018 season.
He was offered a hefty five-year, $40 million contract despite only being a starter for one season with the Seahawks. Yet, Richardson would play just two injury-riddled seasons under that contract before being released this past February.
The 28-year-old would play in just seven games in 2018 before landing on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury. And Richardson’s 2019 campaign would end the same way — with the veteran wideout on the injured reserve.
In total, Richardson played in just 17 games with the Redskins hauling in 48 catches for 507 yards and two touchdowns. Very modest numbers, but Richardson never seemed to click in Washington.
Perhaps a change of scenery is necessary.
Richardson would join former teammates Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson while giving the Jets extra depth on the outside. A smooth route-runner and long-strided runner, Richardson would be an excellent fit in Adam Gase’s West Coast offense.
The Jets could do much worse than bringing in Richardson to have him compete for a roster spot.
Next: 2. Chester Rogers
2. Chester Rogers
A former undrafted free agent, Chester Rogers has managed to carve out a relatively productive career for himself despite his nearly nonexistent pre-draft hype.
Rogers has spent the last four seasons serving as a dependable depth receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. In those four seasons, he played a total of 53 games while recording 111 catches for 1,221 yards and five touchdowns.
His best season came back in 2018 when he was forced into the starting lineup for 10 games due to injuries. Rogers would finish that season with a career-high 53 catches for 485 yards and two touchdowns.
However, the Colts bolstered their receiver corps in the offseason and decided to move on from the Grambling State product. Still, at just 26-years-old, Rogers remains one of the more intriguing free agent receivers on the market.
Rogers played primarily a slot receiver role with Indianapolis but has some prior experience playing on the boundary. He could effectively serve as Crowder’s backup in the slot if he could beat out Braxton Berrios for that job.
Berrios will likely be on the roster bubble given that third-round pick Ashtyn Davis could succeed him as the Jets’ newest returner. And Rogers is likely the better, more experienced option as a depth receiver.
Rogers is nothing special, but he’s worth a look given his age and relative experience.
Next: 1. Taylor Gabriel
1. Taylor Gabriel
Out of all the options still remaining on the market, Taylor Gabriel is definitely the most intriguing.
A six-year veteran, Gabriel has bounced around the league playing for three different teams, but the Abilene Christian product is a shifty, explosive receiver option who would be a perfect fit in Adam Gase’s offense.
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Gabriel relies on his speed and fluid route-running ability to haul in catches underneath and make plays after the reception. On top of that, he’s one of the more productive receivers still available.
He’s just two years removed from a quality 2018 season with the Chicago Bears where he totaled 67 catches for 688 yards and two touchdowns. However, injuries forced him to miss half of the 2019 season and the Bears opted to release him in a cap-saving move in February.
Forced into a starting role in Chicago, Gabriel was saddled with poor quarterback play and asked to do too much. However, he proved during his stint with the Atlanta Falcons that he could be a very efficient third or fourth receiver in an offense.
And his speed and outside/inside versatility should be very appealing to the Jets. Gase has emphasized speed and playmaking ability on offense while general manager Joe Douglas has specifically targeted players with positional versatility.
Gabriel would be a perfect fit for the Jets and he remains the top option in a limited crop of free-agent wide receivers.