As dire as the New York Jets’ receiving corps looks entering the season, someone is bound to step up as the go-to guy for quarterback Josh McCown. Don’t be stunned if that man turns out to be Jeremy Kerley.
The seventh-year wideout spent his first five seasons in green and white before a late-August trade last year to the San Francisco 49ers. However, the Niners released Kerley after he caught 64 passes for 667 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. The Jets picked him back up Tuesday on a one-year deal.
At 28 and having missed just four games since his rookie year, Kerley provides the type of veteran presence lost from the position in the wake of the offseason releases of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. He also can factor into the return game.
Aside from Kerley and Jermaine Kearse, who was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks along with a second-round pick in exchange for defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, all of the other healthy Jets receivers are in their first or second NFL season. While Kearse could step up as well, Kerley’s familiarity with the organization and its fans gives him an edge despite his late arrival.
Kerley isn’t much of a red-zone threat, with only 12 touchdowns out of 246 career receptions. Still, the 5-9 slot receiver can make an impact between the 20s. He’s also been used sparingly in the running game, with 18 career carries for 133 yards, and could be a factor in the occasional end-around.