At just 28 years of age, veteran wide receiver Corey Davis has decided to step away from the game of football. We can only hope nothing but the best for him in his future endeavors, and head coach Robert Saleh left the door open for a potential return to the team at some point down the line.
In the meantime, the literal and figurative show(s) must go on as the NY Jets enter a 2023 season where they are among the favorites to win it all.
Losing a veteran like Davis, who was actually voted captain by his teammates in his first year with the Jets, will definitely impact a team that now only has one lone wide receiver over the age of 27 (Randall Cobb).
At full health, Corey was a very viable deep threat who had the strength to be physical with defensive backs and the blazing speed to run past them whenever applicable.
He was also able to parlay his strength into becoming one of the best run-blocking receivers in the league, a trait that caught the eye of Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh when they were initially trying to revamp the roster.
Who, if anyone, can step up and fill that void? Let's look at three options:
3. Malik Taylor, WR, NY Jets
Malik Taylor is one of the oldest WRs remaining on the roster (27 years old) and has the most similar measurables on this list to the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Corey Davis. He stands at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and has stood out for his blazing speed (4.46 40-yard dash time).
After going undrafted in 2019, he had a brief stint in Tampa Bay before signing with the Green Bay Packers that summer, the same year that Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett joined the team.
He was there for the entirety of that revival of Aaron Rodgers's career, where Rodgers won back-to-back MVPs and reached the NFC Championship Game twice during the four years of the LaFleur era.
He followed the only NFL QB1 he's ever known to New York and has a leg up on most of the other receivers fighting for a roster spot because Hackett's playbook is the only system he's ever had to learn.
In the first preseason of the game, Rodgers was familiar enough with Malik's talent to know exactly which play to call to get him open downfield. Zach Wilson was then able to take over from there and hit Taylor on what may still be considered the best Jets throw of the 2023 preseason.
Randall Cobb just said on the most recent episodes of "Hard Knocks" that Rodgers doesn't throw it to a receiver he doesn't trust. Taylor has been working in the same organization as Rodgers for the entirety of his four-year career and has physical tools that some other receivers can only dream of having.
Can his existing relationship with the star QB and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett accelerate him to make the roster and assume the size and speed blend that Davis has voided? Time will tell.
2. Irvin Charles, WR, NY Jets
If the Jets are looking to replace Davis with someone who possesses the most similar skill set to him, then perhaps Irvin Charles is their guy. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, so he is the largest player on this list and has already impressed coaches and media with his blocking ability.
A nice indicator that his stock might be on the rise is the fact that after being a virtual non-factor in the first two preseason games, Charles was second on the team in yards and targets in Saturday's loss to the Bucs.
With Davis gone, who is a big body who can excel at run-blocking and still provide a reliable catch radius for Rodgers? Outside of Allen Lazard, there is no other wide receiver who can answer this question besides potentially Charles if he can step up.
At this point in their careers, it looks like Malik Taylor is the more polished route-runner while Charles is the more aggressive blocker, so perhaps it's up to the coaching staff to see which skill set they value more.
1. Jason Brownlee, WR, NY Jets
If you've been paying attention to the 2023 New York Jets offseason, then you've likely heard the name of Jason Brownlee quite a few times these last few months.
He has made highlight play after highlight play in camp and has forced his teammates, coaches, and media to take notice. He has led all his peers in targets in all three games this postseason and was able to hold his own when he was elevated to run with starters.
Perhaps the best route isn't to replace Davis with a similar type of receiver and instead, the plan should be to insert the next best receiver possible. If that is indeed their plan, look no further than the underrated catch radius of this year's top undrafted receiver.