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The NY Jets need to address many positions this year and one of those key areas is at wide receiver.
This offseason, with free agency now less than a week away, they will be looking to drastically upgrade their receiving corps. The Jets haven’t had a true No. 1 receiver since Brandon Marshall’s last dominant season in 2015.
Now, with just five wideouts currently contracted on their roster, as well as Jamison Crowder’s future in question and Denzel Mims still developing into a starter, the position is a major area of concern.
Targets Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin have both been franchise-tagged by their respective teams recently, so time is ticking for Gang Green to make a move on stars available.
Kenny Golladay and Will Fuller are some other high-caliber names who have been mentioned over the past few months, and the Jets have even been linked with some big-name trade deals for receivers.
The 2021 NFL Draft is just over a month away but there is plenty of talent currently available on the market.
The Jets have been known for making some subpar signings at wide receiver, particularly over the past few years. It’s important they don’t make the same mistakes in 2021.
Here is a list of five wideouts that the Jets shouldn’t target this offseason.
Next: 1. A high-profile free agent
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1. The NY Jets shouldn’t sign JuJu Smith-Schuster
One of the names that the Jets have been constantly linked to is JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster is expected to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers this year and is likely to have a fair amount of potential suitors.
And in fairness, there is some sense behind the logic that the Jets could sign the four-year pro. He’s a very marketable player and still just 24-years-old, with many feeling that we’ve not seen the best of him.
Despite this, Smith-Schuster does represent a bit of a gamble for the Jets.
Last year, he seemed to hit the news for the wrong reasons with his antics off-the-field and as a result, his reputation seemed to decline.
New coach Robert Saleh is trying to embed a strong team mentality in New York, and following his drama last year, Smith-Schuster might not fare well as part of a rebuild with the Jets.
More importantly, his production levels are nowhere near comparative to over top receivers available.
Since his sensational 1,400-yard Pro Bowl year in 2018, Smith-Schuster has failed to accumulate that figure in the combined totals of the two campaigns that followed, with just 552 yards in 2019. Quite the drop-off.
And last season’s average yards before catch (4.4) and yards after catch (4.2) were among the worst in the league.
Signing someone like Curtis Samuel or even Nelson Agholor would a much cheaper and more sensible option if the Jets are targeting a new slot receiver in free agency.
Elsewhere, Smith-Schuster has also expressed a desire to play with Sam Darnold again in the past, and as the No. 3 overall pick looks ever closer to leaving Jets, that may also deter his own interest.
Ultimately, the Jets are desperate to add talented players who thrive after the catch, but there are plenty of better options available to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He would not be a great fit in New York.
Next: 2. A four-time Pro Bowler
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2. The NY Jets shouldn’t sign T.Y. Hilton
Given how much the Jets love signing a prized veteran, being linked to a deal for someone like T.Y. Hilton shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
Three or four years ago, Hilton was amongst the better receivers in the league. He’s still a dangerous deep threat for any team but at 31-years-old, the former third-round pick isn’t as explosive as he once was.
In terms of production, he’s slowed down considerably since his last 1,000+ receiving yard season in 2018. He posted some fairly respectful numbers last season with more than 750 yards and five touchdowns.
There’s no doubt he could still contribute, and he fits the bill as a quality yards-after-catch receiver, something the Jets are desperate for.
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Hilton is not a future-thinking signing for the Jets. They need to go for younger talent this offseason and Joe Douglas will much prefer developing a true No.1 receiver through youth.
Instead, signing somebody like Zach Pascal, a teammate of Hilton with the Colts, could be a wiser swing worth taking this offseason to fill considerable holes in the Jets’ wideout room.
With almost identical receiving years to Hilton over the past two years, as well as being younger and much cheaper, Pascal represents a longer-term option for the Jets should he become available in free agency.
There is still a chance that the Colts bring both back this offseason, especially since Pascal is a restricted free agent. But if they don’t, the Jets should target Pascal over Hilton.
Next: 3. Another veteran free agent
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3. The NY Jets shouldn’t sign A.J. Green
Having been franchise-tagged by the Cincinnati Bengals last year, A.J. Green is almost certain to be heading to becoming a free agent.
Very much like Hilton, Green is well into the twilight of his NFL days and while he looked like a potential future Hall of Famer earlier into his career, he isn’t the same elite player he was three years ago and won’t be a headline player in free agency.
Don’t get me wrong, the Jets do need quality depth at the position, so someone like Green could act as a decent stopgap who could be able to step up if receivers ahead of him got injured.
But being suspectable to injuries himself, Green wouldn’t be a particularly reliable signing. Having missed the entire 2019 season through injury, Green played a sporadic role despite playing in every game in 2020.
With just 523 yards and two touchdowns to show for his work, Green had effectively dropped down to third in the wide receiver pecking order with the Bengals by the end of the season, with Tyler Boyd and rookie Tee Higgins ahead of him.
Realistically, Green wouldn’t add too much to the Jets in 2021. Keeping Jamison Crowder around would make much more sense if they do want veteran experience on their side.
Crowder isn’t the most spectacular, but nonetheless a dependable and consistent performer who can help some of the younger guys that come into the locker room.
Adding more dead weight to the roster by signing Green wouldn’t be a good move for the Jets.
Next: 4. Trading for an aging superstar
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4. The NY Jets shouldn’t trade for Julio Jones
Earlier this year, the Jets were listed as one of the best landing spots for Julio Jones if he was to leave Atlanta.
Jones isn’t a free agent, but the Falcons will certainly be looking to their long-term future this offseason after an abysmal 2020. They may choose to move on some of their stars.
There is no doubt that Jones remains one of the best and most talented receivers in the game, and he will ultimately go down as one of the league’s best ever.
If it wasn’t for a mid-season injury last year, Jones could have very well hit another 1,000-yard season.
He would still able to play a massive role for any team and he would immediately become the best player, let alone receiver, on the Jets roster if he joined.
While the Jets do need a superstar, they need one for the long-term. Jones would be a huge marquee addition, but Douglas knows the value of using picks to draft, rather than trading for their next leading receiver.
Plus, Jones would be too expensive for the Jets to target. Yes, they do have the cap space and financial flexibility to make such a move, but they’ll have to go above and beyond to acquire the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Jones will be targeting rings and won’t want to spend his remaining years as part of a rebuilding process.
The Jets probably won’t want to trade for a receiver. But if they do, Michael Gallup could be an exciting alternative to Jones and we’ve outlined why we think he’s someone worth pursuing.
With the stacked wide receiver corps in Dallas, Gallup isn’t the No.1 receiver at the moment for the Cowboys, so a move could be tempting for him.
Gallup would also be pricey, but he could easily become the No. target with the Jets for the long-term. They should target a younger talent like Gallup over a star veteran like Jones.
Next: 5. An injury-riddled star
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5. The NY Jets shouldn’t trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. is never too far away from a trade rumor, and with Tom Brady reportedly requesting the Buccaneers to seek the acquisition of the enigmatic receiver this year, the NFL rumor mill is once again in a frenzy discussing other possible destinations for the former Giant.
And as reports have been circling around his desire to return to New York, the Jets are also being linked to a move for Beckham.
Beckham is a star name who brings a stellar reputation and an abundance of talent. But in 2020, he played just seven games for the Browns before he tore his left ACL in Week 7 which ruled him out for the rest of the season.
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Even before the injury, he’d clocked up a measly 319 yards at an average of just over three receptions a game. Beckham’s unpredictable form in Cleveland, on top of his injuries, is definitely something the Jets should avoid spending their valuable draft picks on.
If they are looking for a consistent, deep-threat playmaker, look to free agency for a star like Will Fuller, who would be a more intriguing and achievable proposition.
Like Beckham, Fuller has battled injuries for much of his time in the NFL since being taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. But he’s one of the best deep threats in football and coming off the best year of his career in 2020.
Beckham on the other hand is coming off the back of another setback to his career.
He may still be considered one of the more dynamic receivers in the league, but his lack of consistency in recent years (which hasn’t been entirely his fault) should deter the Jets from signing him.