Lacking playmakers on the outside for their potential new quarterback, the New York Jets should target JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.
The New York Jets offense has been one of the worst units in the NFL this year. While there have been numerous issues, the wide receiver group has been one of the biggest, rarely performing any favors to whoever has been under center.
With the Jets having the ability to escape Jamison Crowder‘s contract after this season (they can cut him while taking on only $1M in dead money), it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jets move on from the slot receiver. Breshad Perriman is also an impending free agent.
Braxton Berrios has filled in admirably when called upon, but not enough so to be considered an answer at the position. It would be a monumental failure by Joe Douglas if the team doesn’t address the position in some way this offseason.
That brings us to one of the biggest names set to hit the free agent market in 2021: JuJu Smith-Schuster. With the Pittsburgh Steelers stressed on cap room, while enjoying the emergence of two young receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, there’s a strong possibility that Smith-Schuster isn’t retained by the team.
If Pittsburgh lets Smith-Schuster shake free, the Jets would be wise to target him when free agency hits. The film and the advanced numbers each showcase many of the intriguing skills he brings to the table.
What does he do well?
Smith-Schuster has the capability to play on the outside, but this year he has played primarily in the slot. He has run a league-leading 429 routes out of the slot this season, lining up in that position on 83.5% of his routes.
When Smith-Schuster had his best season in 2018, he had a healthy balance between his slot and outside usage, playing 58% of his snaps out of the slot. Granted, he had Antonio Brown easing the load, and his overall numbers have dipped since Brown’s exit, but Smith-Schuster remains a reliable slot weapon.
I understand the idea of getting a WR in their prime but I don’t love signing 2 WRs to contracts this year — assuming we get a Robinson/Golladay/Davis as our X, and that that X receiver is a higher priority than replacing Crowder in the slot. Drafting and developing a guy behind Crowder keeps us flexible and still talented at WR. Maybe if we can get Juju at 7M/yr, but I doubt he goes below 10M.
It will definitely be interesting to see how their WR pursuit plays out with so many needs on both sides of the ball. If OL is their top priority, as it seems is the case with Douglas, will they still be in on the big names at WR or will they look for second-tier options and focus on the draft for WR? Definitely one of the most fascinating positions to watch in terms of how they approach it. Robinson, Golladay, or even Davis (who I like a lot) would be huge gets. Just wonder if Douglas goes big there. Seems that he emphasizes building inside-out, which would lead me to think he will avoid the top names there. But you never know. Only one offseason in the books for him so we still have a lot to learn about how he operates. With a new QB presumably coming in, you want to give him all the help he can get, and signing a proven top WR accomplishes that.
As for JuJu, maybe his new team believes in his ability to operate on the outside? He’s such a polarizing option, especially for this team where you already have Crowder in place. Personally, I would just stick with Crowder and stay away from JuJu, but the fact that he is only 24 years old and seeing what he did back in 2017-18 is definitely tempting. But I agree, I do not think the Jets should overpay for him and I do think he is going to command a huge deal that outweighs his production over the past 2 years.
No to ex Steelers WRs… I rather draft one and make our own WRs
Big Allen Robinson fan, need a dominant Outside WR. Understand that eliminates, Perrimen and possibly Crowder , but that’s okay. Slot will depend on new OC, and the flavor he is looking for Cager, the Smith Boys ( have unrealistic expectations for those two ) and Berrios. The Jets will draft two WR’s