The NY Jets should consider bringing in these three free-agent wide receivers for tryouts.
The NY Jets went into training camp with depth up and down their roster. But arguably the one position that lacked any sort of quality depth was the wide receiver position.
And as fate would have it, no position has been hit harder with injuries/opt-outs thus far.
Josh Doctson opted-out of the 2020 season. Denzel Mims remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. And now Vyncint Smith is set to miss at least a month and possibly more after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
All the while, former undrafted free agent Jeff Smith — a player with one career catch to his name — has been running with the first-team offense. The Jets’ receiving corps is officially in a state of panic.
To counteract the injuries, the Jets signed veteran wideout Chris Hogan to hopefully provide some semblance of depth. But that might not be the only move they end up making.
Even with Hogan, the receiver depth chart is looking incredibly thin. So why not bring in a few veterans to try out at the team facilities?
It certainly doesn’t hurt as no commitment is put in place beforehand. And there remains a number of quality receivers left on the market who could provide additional depth to an offense that is in desperate need of some.
Let’s take a look at three free-agent receivers the Jets should bring in for tryouts.
Next: 3. Paul Richardson
3. The NY Jets should bring in Paul Richardson for a tryout
A second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 NFL Draft, Paul Richardson stuttered through the first three years of his career while dealing with a variety of injuries.
A torn ACL suffered in the 2015 postseason would end up costing him the majority of his sophomore NFL season and he saw a number of receivers pass him up on the depth chart while he was sidelined.
But in 2017, playing on the final year of his rookie contract, Richardson finally broke out totaling 703 yards and six touchdowns on 44 catches. He was able to parlay his late success into a hefty five-year, $40 million contract with Washington — a deal many panned at the time.
In hindsight, the organization certainly wishes they had that one back.
Richardson would play just two years in Washington landing on the injured reserve in both seasons before unceremoniously being released back in February.
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When healthy, Richardson has proven that he could be a quality depth receiver as evidenced by his success in Seattle. But Washington asked him to be more than he was and injuries prevented him from ever getting the chance to prove that he could be a starting-caliber player.
Nonetheless, he would be excellent depth for the Jets at this stage provided he’s recovered from a hamstring injury (heard a lot about those over the past week) that lingered throughout the 2019 season.
A prototypical outside receiver, Richardson brings great speed (4.40 40-yard dash) and quality route-running ability making him an excellent fit in Adam Gase’s offense.
At the very least, he’s worth a tryout to see if he’s healthy.
Next: 2. Taylor Gabriel
2. The NY Jets should bring in Taylor Gabriel for a tryout
Perhaps no wide receiver that remains a fee agent is more surprising than Taylor Gabriel.
A six-year NFL veteran, Gabriel has bounced around between three different teams in his career putting together pretty successful stints with both the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears.
In his first season in Chicago, Gabriel started 11 of 16 games and hauled in 67 catches for 688 yards. However, injuries limited him to just nine games the following year and he was subsequently released in the offseason in order to create cap space.
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Many thought that teams would be all over Gabriel given that he’s still only 29-years-old and playing at a quality level. Perhaps he’s gotten offers and is just waiting for the right one.
But with the Jets desperate for receiver help, they should do what they can to land Gabriel.
At just 5-foot-7, the speedy wideout likely isn’t going to help with their shortage of outside receivers. A shifty route-runner with blazing speed, Gabriel is best used in the slot where he can make plays happen after the catch.
But there’s no argument that he wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Gase’s West Coast scheme — a scheme he fit like a glove during his time in Atlanta.
Gabriel might be the best available wide receiver still on the market and although he wouldn’t be a perfect replacement for the Jets’ injuries, he’d still provide a major boost to a struggling receiving corps.
Next: 1. Demaryius Thomas
1. The NY Jets should bring in Demaryius Thomas for a tryout
While Richardson and Gabriel would be nice additions, no free agent (at any position) remains more likely to sign with the Jets than Demaryius Thomas.
Even before the injuries began to pile up, there were rumors that the Jets were looking to re-sign Thomas. And now given their shortage of depth, it seems like a no-brainer.
Thomas spent last season with the Jets after the team shipped a future sixth-round pick to New England in exchange for the four-time Pro Bowler.
But this wasn’t the Pro-Bowl version of Thomas. He’s certainly not the player he used to be.
The longtime Denver Broncos wideout played in 11 games finishing with 36 catches for 433 yards and a touchdown. Hardly impressive numbers for a player who once topped 1,300 yards in four straight seasons.
Nonetheless, Thomas is familiar with the organization and he already knows Gase’s system meaning that a late-August signing likely wouldn’t affect him as much as it would others.
And he still proved to be reliable depth at points last year even if his explosiveness and hands weren’t what they used to be.
As a fourth receiver, you could do a lot worse than Demaryius Thomas. And given his experience with the team, it seems very likely that he’ll be back in green and white sooner rather than later.