FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Before the season, the duo was arguably the best receiving tandem in the league. However, Decker's season-ending shoulder injury halted any such talks and has brushed in a new conversation to the table. Does the emergence of Quincy Enunwa, make Marshall or Decker expendable?
Enunwa has been the best offensive player for the Jets this season and very few people expected it, myself included. In the past two games, his play has been electric and the 24-year-old is showing us all why he deserves to be the primary offensive weapon for years to come. Last season was all about the production of Marshall and Decker as Enunwa played the background. Everyone saw his potential as a slot receiver but who would've thought his role would expand beyond that?
Enunwa's work in the off-season caught the attention of coaches and players, who praised him all throughout training camp.
“He’s a jack of all trades,” head coach Todd Bowles told 98.7 ESPN NY “He’s like the Dennis Rodman on our team. He gets the rebounds, he dives on the floor for loose balls, he does a bunch of things. He can be a wide out, he can be an H-Back, he blocks, he catches, he runs deep, he runs short."
Enunwa's hands and route running have improved since last year and it's showing on the field. His versatility makes him a unique player primed for a bigger role. He leads the team with 36 receptions, and has 502 yards and three touchdowns this season. All without being the first option offensively. Everyone knows the Jets want to run the ball every game and we also know how much Ryan Fitzpatrick loves to target Marshall in the pass game. What Enunwa is doing is beyond impressive and he's becoming a star whether people acknowledge it or not.
Looking ahead to the future, the Jets may have a dilemma on its hands. Enunwa is set to become restricted free agent in 2018, while Marshall will be an unrestricted free agent in the same year. Decker becomes a free agent in 2019, and his contract will be a nine million dollar cap hit to the Jets payroll in 2018. Enunwa is in a three-year deal worth slightly more than 1.5 milion and will need a new contract if his production continues to increase.
It's hard to picture the Jets keeping all three players on the roster, even before that time comes. Marshall has had his ups and downs this season and will be pushing 35 sooner rather than later. Decker, 29, isn't getting any younger either but what's more concerning is the amount of time he'll need to get back onto the field. He recently had hip surgery for his torn labrum and he'll also need shoulder surgery for his torn rotator cuff. The timetable for his return next season is uncertain but its possible he may not be completely healthy until December 2017. Let's face it, the Jets have other needs and flipping Marshall or Decker for a draft pick, offensive lineman or cornerback could be a move to consider down the road.
Further down the depth chart are rookie wide outs Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson. Both have bright futures in the league and will be productive players in due time. The Jets may also have found its tight end of the future in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, though he's yet to get many game reps with the team due to injury. The team claimed him off waivers in September, and although the Jets have proven they can due without a receiving tight end, at six-foot-five 262 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins can run, block and catch. The Jets haven't had someone that could do all three in quite some time. They would be silly not to utilize his entire skillset going forward.
It may be too early to examine this situation, but there's no denying that changes will be made to this team quicker than we expect. The season is still somewhat young and at 3-5, the Jets have time to jump into the playoff race. However, they are a couple of bad losses away from moon walking into the off-season.
Trade Brandon Marshall? Decker? Franchise Enunwa? All options will be looked at by Maccagnan and the front office when the time's right.
Marcus Reynolds is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com?NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Marcus_JRNL), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).