Just how much of a need receiver(s) are for the Jets will depend on if they decide to bring back Percy Harvin. Even with Harvin the Jets could still use a more traditional outside receiver who can win jump balls, be a deep threat and a red zone/third down target. But without Harvin the Jets would need to add at least two or three receivers between free agency and the draft (maybe Shaq Evans or Quincy Enunwa could make a surprising leap to contributors but the Jets certainly can’t bank on that to happen).
If the Jets decide to let Harvin go then all available options will be considered but if they do bring him back then options like Randall Cobb won’t make sense as that would give the Jets three smaller, slot type receivers when they need more outside receivers.
If the Jets bring Harvin back they probably wouldn’t bother signing one of the bigger free agent receivers, between Harvin, Decker and Kerley there would already be $19.6 million against the cap tied up into three receivers ($6.5 for Decker, $10.5 for Harvin and $2.6 for Kerley) for next season.
Obviously Maccagnan could work out a new deal with Harvin to lower his cap number but if the cap number didn’t come down considerably it would probably make more sense for the Jets to look to this year’s deep draft class for another receiver or two instead of allocating more free agent funds to a receiver.
However, if the Jets let Harvin go they will be somewhere between $60 and $70 million under the cap and since they have to start spending most of that money it would make sense if they decided to spend some of that available cash on a receiver or two and then they could still draft a receiver if they get one at a value they love.
The good news for the Jets is free agency opens on March 10 and they don’t have to make a decision on Harvin until March 19. That gives them plenty of time to assess the market and try to strike a deal with other free agent receivers and if they find they can upgrade over Harvin they can cut him or if they can’t land any better options than Harvin they can then choose to keep him.
In free agency there are four clear tiers with the receivers, the top tier consists of Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas and it’s unlikely either hit the market. Both players will probably get the franchise tag placed on them if they can’t agree to a long-term extension but Thomas is more likely to hit the market if the Broncos decide to use the tag on tight end Julius Thomas. That’s still an unlikely scenario but if you want to hold out hope for a pipe dream that’s the angle to take.
Either Bryant or Thomas would be a great addition to this offense and if either became available then the decision to let Harvin go becomes much easier but, again, the chances of either of them hitting the open market are minuscule.
The second tier consists of only Cobb. The Packers historically are known to let players like Cobb walk in free agency but Cobb is a perfect fit with that offense and one could certainly see the Packers trying to bring him back. Cobb will have plenty of suitors, he won’t command a double digit salary but with him having his pick of suitors you have to wonder if Cobb might prefer a more explosive passing attack to join than the Jets.
If the Jets can’t bring one of these top three free agent receivers than the chances of bring Harvin back increase rather dramatically.
The third tier of receivers includes, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree and Torrey Smith. Malin would be a great choice for the Jets, plug him in on the outside opposite of Decker and let him work but I still think he ends up returning to the Eagles. I don’t know why any receiver would want to leave Chip Kelly. Crabtree would be a very intriguing option, he’s a proven playmaker but he does have injury concerns. Smith is a good deep threat but fairly limited otherwise.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of money these three command but if the Jets decide they want one of them they can certainly afford to make sure they get them.
The fourth tier is made up of everyone else. Kenny Britt, Cecil Shorts, Eddie Royal, Nate Washington, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Denarius Moore, Leonard Hankerson, Dwayne Harris, Vincent Brown and I’m going to stop listing names now because the this tier is not exactly filled with inspiring talent.
Reggie Wayne had an amazing career but he’s not close to that Reggie Wayne anymore, Shorts is a talented and, when healthy, productive receiver but he’s always hurt. Britt would be a good low-risk/high-reward signing except for the fact that the Jets live in and play in New Jersey and Britt tends to get himself in trouble whenever he’s in New Jersey.
As for the draft the Jets will have plenty of options, early rounds, middle rounds and late round options but of course the ones you fans want will be the early and some middle round options.
Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Amari Cooper, Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaelen Strong, Phillip Dorsett, Breshad Perriman, Rashad Greene, Justin Hardy, Nelson Agholor, Jamison Crowder, Devin Funchess, Devin Smith and Sammie Coates are just a few of the receivers that will likely be drafted between the first and fourth rounds.
I will release my exact receiver rankings for the draft soon, probably sometime next week, but the Jets absolutely don’t need to spend the sixth overall pick on a receiver to come away with a dangerous playmaker. Green-Beckham is the only one who would be worth the sixth pick based on talent alone but his off-field issues make him a huge risk at six.
The Jets could certainly attempt to trade down from pick six, easier said than done, and if successful then they could go receiver later in the round or they could just wait until the second (where at least one of Strong, Dorsett, Perriman or Greene will likely still be available) or the they could wait for the third and take the best receiver left.
Which route the Jets plan to take to improve the receiving core this offseason is very much unclear but it’s very clear that they will have plenty of options to choose from. Which route would you go Jets fans?