NY Jets, Jamison Crowder Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
What should the NY Jets do with wide receiver Jamison Crowder in the offseason?
During the Mike Maccagnan era, it became common for the NY Jets to overpay in free agency.
The team gave linebacker C.J. Mosley a five-year deal worth $85 million, running back Le’Veon Bell four-years for $52.5 million, and Jets fans will never forget the five-year, $72.5 million deal cornerback Trumaine Johnson received.
Yet one of the larger deals Maccagnan gave out may have paid off in wide receiver Jamison Crowder.
In 2019, the Jets signed the former Washington fourth-round pick to a three-year, $28.5-million deal. At the time, it got plenty of attention, given Crowder was coming off of an injury-plagued season, and was purely a slot weapon at 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds.
The hope was that Crowder could stay healthy and provide second-year quarterback Sam Darnold with a safety option underneath.
Quickly, injuries to Quincy Enunwa and Chris Herndon forced Crowder to become a number one target. He since has put up some of the best numbers of his career with the Jets.
Without a doubt, he has proven to be the Jets most reliable offensive weapon since coming to Florham Park, as well as becoming a fan favorite too.
However, Maccagnan is no longer with the team because of his erratic spending habits, among other reasons. Now, Joe Douglas is the Jets general manager. A man who wants to build through the draft and avoid overpaying at all costs.
That being said, should the Jets keep Crowder in 2021, or save ten million by cutting the pricey slot receiver? Let’s take a look at the situation.
Next: The case for keeping Crowder
NY Jets, Jamison Crowder Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
1. Why the NY Jets should keep Jamison Crowder
Yes, Crowder may be overpaid, but he has proven to be well worth the price tag Maccagnan put on him. In 24 games for the Jets, Crowder has 118 receptions for 1,336 yards and 11 touchdowns.
No Jets receiver has come close to touching that kind of production since the start of the 2019 season.
Right off of the bat, if Douglas were to move on from Crowder, he then needs to replace him. Something that the Jets cannot do with anyone currently on the roster.
Backup Braxton Berrios played well earlier in 2020 when Crowder was hurt, though does not offer the same caliber target Crowder does. Berrios lacks the overall athleticism that is needed to be the gamechanger Crowder offers out of the slot.
There is also the fact that Crowder is still rather young even with 2021 being his seventh season. He will be 28-years-old at the start of next year, offering an example of professionalism and leadership to what likely will be a young offense once again.
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And having a reliable veteran slot receiver underneath benefits any quarterback. When Darnold and Crowder have taken the field together, their connection is obvious.
Crowder has been Darnold’s favorite weapon as he averages 5.5 receptions and 74 yards in the four games they have played together in 2020. He also has three touchdowns from Darnold, including two against the Las Vegas Raiders.
When it comes down to it, releasing a player of Crowder’s caliber makes little sense for the Jets.
Next: The case for cutting Crowder
NY Jets, Jamison Crowder [ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post]
2. Why the NY Jets should cut Jamison Crowder
At the same time, there is certainly a case for moving on from the receiver. Douglas, who only pays players he deems are worth the value of their deal, could recognize the savings that come with such a move.
Crowder is due $11.5 million this season, and only carries $1 million in dead cap. Given slot receiver is not a premium position, he could prefer to use the money elsewhere, as the Jets have bigger needs.
In discussing Crowder’s time with the Jets, injuries also must come into question. Again, when he signed with the team, he was coming off of an injury-riddled campaign with Washington. And now, he has been banged up all season.
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Crowder has missed multiple stretches of games this season and has not exactly had the same impact since returning from injury in Week 9.
In his first four games of the season, he posted 383 yards, and in the four since, only 120 yards. Now, this could be because of injury, or is it because of other receivers finally being healthy?
To start the season, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims were also hurt. But ever since their return, they have seen significant production. Therefore, Crowder has become a less integral part of the game plan, causing a bit of a mid-season fade to this point.
There is also the question of who will be playing quarterback for the Jets next season? Again, having a consistent slot receiver benefits any quarterback.
But some do not utilize theirs as much as others. For example, when Joe Flacco has started for the Jets, Crowder has averaged just over 50 yards per game.
In the end, Crowder’s potential release comes down to how much Douglas values his ability out of the slot for his price.
Next: The Verdict
NY Jets, Jamison Crowder Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
3. What should the NY Jets do with Jamison Crowder?
This offseason, the Jets will virtually be starting from scratch. Joe Douglas has pieced this team together over the past two seasons to be able to build back up. Already, there are players emerging as building blocks, though only a few.
Douglas wants to build through the draft and will have around six picks in the top 100, including what could end up being the first overall pick. And the Jets are currently estimated to have $82.5 million (per Spotrac) in cap space to spend in free agency.
In other words, why would Douglas make another hole on the team by cutting his best receiver?
At a position where the team is already thin, with Mims as the only other starting-caliber talent, it is rather counterproductive to move on from the veteran. He offers consistency to an offense that has had very little over the past few seasons.
Crowder also offers leadership, something that the team desperately needs. It seems likely a new head coach will be coming in, and potentially a new quarterback too. If that ends up being the case, having a consistent veteran in the slot immediately becomes more valuable.
When it is all said and done, who knows what Douglas will decide to do. The Jets’ roster is about to undergo a complete revamp, and only a select few are locks to survive the transition.
Above all, the team is going to need to rely on veterans to lead the young crop of talent on the Jets offense.
And nobody suits that job more than Jamison Crowder.