The Jets have failed to fill a gaping hole at wide receiver this offseason, as several Pro Bowl pass catchers have found new teams, but Gang Green has so far struck-out in free agency and the trade market.
The team from MetLife Stadium made a significant push to snag former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is among the best players in the league, but ultimately lost the 28-year-old to their division rivals Miami Dolphins.
Since then, the team has looked elsewhere for elite pass catching, but have came up short-handed — including in another intra-AFC East swap that sent Miami wideout DeVante Parker to the New England Patriots.
As frustrations continue to boil over at the team’s inability to fill a desperate need, some have turned to the NFL Draft, where the Jets have the 4th overall selection, along with the 10th pick that they received in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, to potentially fill the gap.
But, NFL history suggests that rookie pass catchers often take years to adjust to the speed of the pros, and to show their full potential at the position.
That presents a significant problem for the Jets, who are looking to provide immediate help to quarterback Zach Wilson.
The second-year passer, who the Jets selected second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, produced a mediocre first season on the field — though he did show flashes of brilliance at the position.
Wilson played 13 of 17 games after suffering various injuries in his rookie season, when he recorded a 55.6% completion percentage, along with 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Now, the team is looking to surround Wilson with pass catchers to unlock his full potential in his sophomore season, though the front office has struck out on big-name free agents and trade targets thus far.
That has left Gang Green with a few potential trade partners still looking to offload their major wideout contracts as possabilities to acquire a veteran at the position, and rumors continue to swirl that general manager Joe Douglas may strike an 11th hour deal before the draft later this month.
The Seahawks recently parted ways with their Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson, and the team figures to be in the seller’s-market this offseason.
“If the opportunity is right and the price is right, we’re going to strike,” Douglas said at a recent meeting of NFL owners.
As ESPN reported, the team is also interested in acquiring A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans, who is up for a new contract at the end of the coming season — which could make the Titans willing to part ways with the former Pro Bowler.
Last season the 24-year-old recorded 63 receptions for 869 yards in 13 games played, while tacking on 5 touchdowns.
As he figures to get better in the coming years with increased strength and knowledge of the pro game, the Jets may be interested in adding the young phenom to pair with Wilson.
Getting either Metcalf and Brown would require the Jets to surrender significant amounts of draft picks (and potentially veteran players), but the team has an arsenal of early-round picks they could afford to part ways with.
In their failed trade for Hill, the team offered a pair of 2022 second-round picks, along with a third-round pick, in exchange for the wideout and a Chiefs pick later in the third round.
The team could potentially put together a similar package if either the Seahawks or Titans (or another team with an abundance of pass catchers) should look to make a roster move.
Currently, the Jets’ wide receiving core is led by veteran Corey Davis, who caught just 34 passes in 9 games for Gang Green last season, recording a forgettable 492 yards and 4 touchdowns.