NY Jets can't break the bank for Braxton Berrios in free agency

NY Jets, Braxton Berrios
NY Jets, Braxton Berrios / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The NY Jets saw the emergence of Braxton Berrios in more than one way this past season. The wide receiver/return man broke out and put together a career year as both a receiver and returner.

Berrios set career-highs in both receptions and receiving yards as well as average yards per kick/punt return en route to his first All-Pro nod. And it couldn't have come at a better time either.

With Berrios set to hit the open market coming off the best season of his career, he could be looking to cash in on a significant payday. ESPN's Rich Cimini even reported on Sunday that Berrios "might be looking to be paid as one of the top slot receivers, which would put him at about $9 million per year."

Berrios is a super valuable player and someone the Jets undoubtedly want back. But there really isn't any scenario where the Jets should pay him that much.

The NY Jets must be reasonable with Braxton Berrios

The Jets want to keep Berrios — that much has been made clear. And now that the Senior Bowl has passed, the two sides will likely ramp up contract talks in the coming weeks.

Berrios proved to be one of the few reliable targets in the Jets' offense late in the year after injuries decimated the team's skill positions. That combined with his special-teams contributions should allow him to develop a lucrative market.

But if Berrios is asking for $9 million a season, there isn't a chance the Jets are still interested. It's hard to say what other teams would be willing to pay, though.

Perhaps another team would view the 26-year-old Berrios as someone who can be one of the better slot receivers in football. If he can get $8-9 million from another team, more power to him.

But that team won't be the Jets. For reference, players like T.Y. Hilton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Cole Beasley made less than $9 million in 2021. It's hard to argue that Berrios, someone who has started three career games, should be making that much.

So then what's a reasonable contract for Berrios? Spotrac projects Berrios' market value at somewhere around four years, $23 million which would give him an average annual salary of just under $6 million.

That's probably more realistic for a player with his set of skills. A four-year, $23 million contract with an out after 2023 would make sense for both sides and could be enough to get it done.

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What seems clear is that Braxton Berrios is going to play for the highest bidder in 2022. It remains to be seen if that team will be the Jets. But if he's asking for top dollar, don't expect Berrios to return next season.