Why the NY Jets should prioritize Elijah Moore over an Odell Beckham signing
With Aaron Rodgers' public declaration on The Pat McAfee Show, it looks like the NY Jets are going 'all-in' to help Rodgers win one last ring before he hangs it up.
As a result, they've signed at least one player he likes, Allen Lazard, but ESPN's Dianna Russini claims that there are more players he'd like the Jets to sign — all of whom are pass-catchers.
Due to horrific QB play, there weren't a lot of stats and accolades to go around for the wide receivers and tight ends on the team last year. Only Garrett Wilson, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was able to leave the 2022 season with a pretty stat line that included a team-leading 1,103 yards and four touchdowns.
Tyler Conklin had about half the yardage (552) and three touchdowns to come in second place in both categories. Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Wilson and Conklin figure to be the only two pass-catchers who are absolute locks to retain big roles on the team.
Corey Davis has been discussed as a cap casualty for quite some time now, and the addition of the bigger, stronger, and younger Lazard only reinforces those notions. Braxton Berrios was already shown the door, and we'll see him twice this upcoming season. So what to do with Elijah Moore?
Odell Beckham Jr. is Elijah Moore's biggest threat
Josina Anderson seems to think that Elijah Moore isn't going anywhere. That said, Odell Beckham Jr. has not only been recruited by the Jets' superstar Sauce Gardner, but the man expecting to be the Jets' QB1 in 2023 explicitly said, "who wouldn't want to play with" OBJ when he was asked.
If Beckham were to join the Jets, it's hard to imagine a scenario where he isn't in the starting rotation. Lazard's $11 million guarantees his spot in the rotation, Wilson's award and talent guarantee his spot, and Beckham's name value and prospective contract would end up guaranteeing his spot as well.
At 5-foot-11, 198 pounds, he's not a prototypical physical specimen to play outside, but it's been well-documented how successful he's played outside. Given the current Jets' landscape, he could use his speed and agility to move to the slot and become one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the entire NFL.
The thing is, the Jets have a 5-foot-10, 178-pound receiver who is seven years younger than Beckham, will cost millions of dollars less to employ, and may even be better suited to play in the slot than Beckham. Of course, I'm talking about Elijah Moore, who, at one point in his rookie season, looked like one of the best receivers in football.
In 2021, Beckham had 44 catches on 82 targets for 537 yards and five touchdowns. That same season, Moore played his rookie season in the NFL, securing 43 catches on 77 targets for 538 yards and five touchdowns. Nearly identical stats for two players of similar size who are in completely different phases in their careers.
OBJ didn't play this past year as he recovered from an ACL tear suffered in Super Bowl LVI and welcomed a son during that time. When Week 1 rolls around this year, he'll be two months away from his 30th birthday and 19 months away from his last NFL action.
While we can't predict how he will perform, it is very safe to assume his best seasons are behind him rather than ahead of him.
As we all know, Moore's numbers regressed across the board in 2022, but the emergence of a true No. 1 receiver (Wilson) and regression of quarterback play (other Wilson) were big factors in the rollercoaster season that included a trade request and healthy scratches from games.
Compounded with former offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur's curious decision to take Moore out of the slot, it became a perfect recipe for disaster.
How might NY Jets WR Elijah Moore perform with Aaron Rodgers?
Assuming he stays healthy, there's no reason to believe that Moore won't have the best season of his career in 2023 with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Rodgers' accuracy and elite vision permit him to simply hit guys when they're open, which Moore often did last year, despite not getting targeted.
He turns 23 at the end of this month, coming into the third year of his career, and he's always been a fantastic route runner who's hard to tackle in space. Between free agents requesting his presence on the team, or A.J. Brown's never-ending glowing reviews, there is no shortage of respect for Moore amongst his peers.
Who was the last 5-foot-10 player in his early 20s to play (nearly) a full season as Aaron Rodger's slot guy? The answer is Randall Cobb, another alleged Jets target, who had 91 catches for 1,281 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014 at age 24. Those numbers would be the third-most catches, fourth-most yards, and second-most touchdowns in Jets franchise history.
Final conclusion? Keep Moore and put him in the slot. Maybe Cobb is the better fit for this roster, but
at age 33 this season, there's no chance of him coming close to being able to physically perform at the level Moore can.
He can certainly mentor Moore, however, imparting all of the mental intangibles and IQ tidbits that he's accumulated over the years. Let Beckham collect his millions elsewhere.
Elijah Moore is due for a breakout season with Rodgers at the helm, and signing Randall Cobb could help develop the young stud. Let me know why you agree/disagree below in the comments.