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Which teams could steal Braxton Berrios from the New York Jets?

Braxton Berrios, Contract, Free Agent, NY Jets, Miami Dolphins
Braxton Berrios, Chris Grier, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

Plenty of teams will be knocking on Braxton Berrios’ door

Retaining Braxton Berrios will be a priority for the New York Jets this offseason as the All-Pro kickoff returner and quality slot receiver hits unrestricted free agency.

Of course, New York will not be the only team dialing the number of Berrios’ agent. Here are a few teams that could challenge the Jets for the services of Berrios.

Denver Broncos

Denver has a dire need for the things Berrios brings to the table.

The Broncos ranked last in the NFL with 102 receiving yards produced on screen plays in 2021. They also ranked last in total conversions (first downs and touchdowns) on screens with three.

From an efficiency perspective, Denver ranked 31st with 3.6 yards per target on screens and 32nd with a 10.7% conversion rate on screens.

Berrios is an excellent weapon on screens and can help Denver turn things around in this area. He earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 93.1 on screen plays in 2021, ranking fourth-best out of 54 qualified wide receivers.

Another area where Berrios would fill a huge need for the Broncos is the kickoff return game. Denver ranked 32nd with an average of 16.2 yards per kickoff return in 2021. Berrios’ All-Pro efforts helped the Jets lead the NFL with 27.4 yards per kickoff return.

According to Over The Cap, the Broncos are projected to have the seventh-most cap space in the NFL at $40.0 million, so they will have the flexibility to make an aggressive play for him.

I’d keep a very close eye on Denver when it comes to the Berrios sweepstakes. They have money to spend and badly need to improve in many of the areas where Berrios thrives.

The Broncos already have a stable of young receivers in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and K.J. Hamler, so they might not pursue Berrios aggressively, but it’s possible they at least inquire considering that their holes perfectly match up with Berrios’ strengths.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams do not have a good cap situation (they’re projected to be $9.0 million over the cap) and already have a bevy of talent at wide receiver, but I figured I’d list them for a few reasons.

First of all, it’s very easy to picture Berrios fitting into the Rams’ offense. Check out Matthew Stafford’s passing heat map from the 2021 season thus far.

Berrios’ skillset would be right at home in that short, quick-hitting offense. Plus, the Rams called the fifth-most screen plays of any team in the NFL (73), so they would make use of that aspect of his game.

Los Angeles ranked 12th in yards per target on screen plays (6.1) in the 2021 regular season, so there is room to improve.

The Rams are also facing uncertainty with their No. 2 receiver, Robert Woods, who is set to turn 30 years old and is coming off an ACL injury.

Finally, the Rams’ assistant head coach is Thomas Brown, who served as the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator during Berrios’ time there.

Houston Texans

Houston could use Berrios’ help in the screen game after ranking 26th in yards per target (4.9) and 30th in conversion rate (16.9%) on screen plays in 2021.

The Texans could also benefit from Berrios’ punt returning skills after ranking 26th with 7.2 yards per punt return.

Houston’s general manager is Nick Caserio, who was the New England Patriots’ director of player personnel when Berrios was drafted by the team in 2018.

Currently, the Texans are projected to have $17.1 million in cap space, ranking 17th in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh will likely be in the market for a starting slot receiver after getting awful production from the position in 2021.

The Steelers offense produced a league-low 906 receiving yards out of the slot, doing so at a league-worst efficiency of 0.91 yards per route run from the slot. Their primary slot man was Ray-Ray McCloud, who generated a passer rating of 57.5 when targeted.

Another issue is that the Steelers tried to run a lot of screens but weren’t good enough at them to warrant doing so. They threw the eight-most screen passes (65) but ranked 30th with 4.2 yards per screen play and 23rd with a 21.5% conversion rate on screens.

Pittsburgh is a team that could pursue Berrios with the idea of making him a starter rather than merely using his special teams and gadget abilities. The Steelers have the cap room to pay him starter money, as they are currently projected to have $32.2 million in space (ninth-most).

Carolina Panthers

Carolina needs a pure starting slot receiver after tinkering with Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall in 2021 but getting poor results. The Panthers ranked 31st with 0.95 receiving yards produced per route run out of the slot.

Anderson – who is not known at all for his shifty route-running – led the Panthers with 41 targets out of the slot. That’s not his bread and butter at all. Carolina needs a real slot guy.

Marshall was drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft with hopes of becoming the team’s go-to slot weapon, but he struggled as a rookie. His average of 0.46 yards per route run out of the slot ranked last out of 66 qualified wide receivers. Anderson placed 58th with a mark of 1.02.

Berrios was born and raised in Raleigh, N.C. Perhaps a homecoming could interest him. Additionally, for what it’s worth, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is dating the sister of Berrios’ girlfriend. Berrios and McCaffrey have vacationed together and appear to be good friends.

The Panthers are ranked 16th with $17.4 million in projected cap space.

Miami Dolphins

Miami had a terrible special teams unit in 2021, ranking fourth-worst in special teams DVOA. That was largely due to an abysmal pair of return units.

The Dolphins ranked 31st in yards per punt return (6.6) and 31st in yards per kickoff return (17.4). Signing Berrios would allow them to kill two birds with one stone.

The screen game is another area where Berrios’ help could be used. Miami tied for the third-fewest conversions on screen passes with 10 while ranking 25th in yards per target (5.0) and 25th in conversion rate (21.3%) on screens.

Plus, Berrios is familiar with the region after attending the University of Miami, where he played his home games at Hard Rock Stadium.

Miami’s version of Berrios over the past few years has been Albert Wilson, who took on a healthy diet of screens, rush attempts, and various gadget plays since joining the team in 2018. Wilson is set to become an unrestricted free agent and will turn 30 years old this July, so there is a chance that Miami will be looking to replace him.

The Fins are projected to have the most cap space in the NFL at $65.4 million. Why not use a good chunk of it to revive the special teams unit, replace Wilson, and hurt a division rival all at once?

There are a lot of reasons a Berrios-Dolphins union could happen. Jets fans, prepare yourselves for the possibility of it.

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2 years ago

If he gets to FA ,he will be a Panther. Buddies with Cmac and born and raised in Carolina. Played HS ball in Raleigh. I can’t see Denver, they have Sutton, Jeudy, Patrick and Hamler .

2 years ago

I think Carolina and Miami make the most sense. I listened to him on a podcast and he was great. We all know he’s a smart guy and seems like his relationship is serious. I think “market” will come into play for him. I have never met him of course but he seems like the type of guy who will also be considering life after football. His GF might also have a say (just a guess). I think that’s a plus for the Jets, but also Miami. He likes the weather down there, and he did mention no state income tax was a factor, per the podcast. I would hate for him to be in Miami but let’s be honest if the Jets are losing games because Braxton Berrios is beating them, or they can’t replace him as a player there’s a bigger problem here.

Gary Berman
2 years ago

It is what it is. I think that the Jets will make a fair and competitive offer but it only takes one team to give him big bucks and chances are, someone will.