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5 undervalued free agents the New York Jets could buy low on

Allen Robinson, NY Jets, Free Agent, Chicago Bears, Contract
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets could find value in these low-stock NFL free agents

On Tuesday, I highlighted a few 2022 NFL free agents who have seen their stock skyrocket after big years in 2021 but might be unable to match that production in the future, making them risky investments.

Let’s take a look at the opposite side of the coin. Which free agents have seen their stock plummet after a down year but could be able to provide a strong return on investment with a bounceback year?

TE Gerald Everett (Seahawks)

Gerald Everett signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Seahawks in 2021 and had an often nightmarish season that featured a bunch of costly mistakes near the end of games. Seemingly every time Jets fans turned on a Seahawks game hoping to see a Seattle loss, Everett delivered for them with a game-changing drop, penalty, or fumble.

Adding to his down year, Everett was not quite as efficient of a producer as on a per-play basis he was over the past two seasons with the Rams. Getting a significant boost in snaps as he played the largest role of his career, Everett averaged 1.34 yards per route run in 2021 after averaging 1.54 with Los Angeles from 2019-20.

That margin of 0.20 is more sizable than it may seem – for instance, in 2021, that was the difference between 14th-ranked T.J. Hockenson (1.48) and 20th-ranked Mo Alie-Cox (1.28) out of 44 qualified tight ends.

Despite the crucial mistakes and a dip in efficiency, Everett still put up respectable numbers on the year. The fifth-year tight end set career highs in receptions (48), receiving yards (478), and receiving touchdowns (4). He also rushed three times for 20 yards and a pair of first downs.

Everett is an excellent athlete who thrives with the football in his hands. He tied for sixth among tight ends with 11 missed tackles forced in 2021. It’s his third straight season ranking top-10 in the category despite only getting a medium-sized diet of targets each year.

While not a remarkable blocker, Everett usually earns fairly league-average numbers in that category. He’s a versatile tight end who lines up in-line on about half of his snaps and spends the rest either in the slot or out wide.

Everett’s reputation feels like it’s worse than it should be considering he is most known for the negatives of his 2021 campaign in Seattle. If that ends up laying a dent in his cost on the open market, he should be a good value for teams that need tight end help (such as the New York Jets).

Set to turn 28 in June, Everett should still have some prime years left. The South Alabama product has proven he can be relied upon for excellent open-field playmaking and nice TE2-quality production.

WR Allen Robinson (Bears)

Despite catching passes from bad quarterbacks throughout his entire career, Allen Robinson established himself as one of the league’s most productive receivers throughout the late-2010s.

Over 78 games from 2015-20, Robinson caught 409 passes for 5,451 yards and 37 touchdowns, putting him on pace for approximately 89 catches, 1,188 yards, and eight touchdowns per 17 games.

Prior to this past season, Robinson was coming off of back-to-back seasons with over 1,100 yards for the Bears, including 1,250 in 2020 (9th-best in the NFL that year). But his production took a complete nosedive in 2021.

In 12 games, Robinson caught 38 passes for 410 yards and one touchdown. He set career lows (save for a 2017 season where he played one game) in receptions per game (3.2), receiving yards per game (34.2), yards per reception (10.8), and touchdowns per game (0.08).

Robinson also missed five games, his most since 2017. Three were due to a hamstring injury and two were due to COVID-19. However, his production was already plummeting prior to any availability troubles.

After such a wildly disappointing year, Robinson’s value has likely plummeted – leaving the door open for someone to get themselves a steal.

Robinson is still only 28 years old (he’ll be 29 in August). He should have some quality football left in him. It would be premature to write him off for one year of poor production while catching passes from two struggling quarterbacks in Justin Fields and Andy Dalton.

Perhaps Robinson could be had on a one-year “prove it” deal in which he looks to raise his value before trying to sign a multi-year deal in 2023.

WR Michael Gallup (Cowboys)

A third-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018, Michael Gallup was one of the most promising young wideouts in the game after his second season. In 2019, Gallup caught 66 passes for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games.

Then, Dallas drafted CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the 2020 draft, forcing Gallup to take a back seat.

Since 2020, Gallup has accumulated 94 catches for 1,288 yards and seven touchdowns in 25 games. He’s averaged only 51.5 yards per game over that span after breaking out with an average of 79.1 yards per game in 2019.

The 2021 season was a rough one for Gallup. He missed seven of the team’s first eight games with a calf injury and then suffered a torn ACL that ended his season in January (there is optimism that Gallup could return in time to begin the 2022 season). In the nine games he did play, Gallup averaged just 49.4 yards per game with two touchdowns.

With a major production drop-off over the past two years in addition to serious injury questions, Gallup’s stock is free-falling going into free agency.

This is a player who went well over 1,000 yards at 23 years old and has only seen his production dip because of a role change. Gallup has shown the potential to be a big-time player. The disparity between his potential and his cost could be one of the largest on the 2022 free-agent market.

The Jets will likely begin their search for wide receiver help by exploring the absolute biggest names available on the free-agent and trade markets, but if those pursuits fall through, Gallup could offer them star-caliber potential at an affordable price.

While no team should rely on Gallup to solve their issues due to his ACL injury, it’s enticing how much upside he offers for a player who could end up being paid like a mid-tier producer who is dealing with a serious injury.

WR D.J. Chark (Jaguars)

Like Gallup, D.J. Chark burst onto the scene as a second-year breakout star in 2019. Just 23 years old at the time, Chark was named a Pro Bowler as he caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games.

Things have gone downhill since. A carousel of quarterbacks in 2020 hurt Chark’s production as he collected 53 receptions for 706 yards and five touchdowns, while he also missed three games. In 2021, Chark suffered a fractured ankle in his fourth game that ended his season.

Chark has had issues with drops and contested catches throughout his career, and he doesn’t work a ton of magic after the catch, but he is an outstanding deep threat who would provide the Jets with game-breaking explosiveness they do not currently have.

In 2019, Chark tied for sixth among wide receivers with 13 deep catches (20+ yards downfield). In 2020, Chark had 10 deep catches in 13 games, an average of 0.77 per game that ranked seventh-best at the position. Chark already had three deep catches over his first three games in 2021 (for reference, Justin Jefferson ranked second-best among WR in 2021 with 1.00 deep catches per game).

Chark could be the way to go if New York is looking for a high-upside deep threat at a cost that shouldn’t break the bank.

LB Nicholas Morrow (Raiders)

Previously an unknown backup, former undrafted free agent Nicholas Morrow emerged on the national NFL radar in 2020 when he established himself as a solid cover linebacker in his fourth season as a Raider.

Morrow ranked second among linebackers with nine passes defended in 2020. He also placed third-best among qualified linebackers as he allowed 5.0 yards per target on throws in his direction. Roquan Smith and Lavonte David were the only linebackers to fare better.

Morrow returned to the Raiders on a one-year, $4.5 million deal in hopes of legitimizing his breakout year and earning a lucrative multi-year deal in 2022. Those hopes were dashed when a training-camp foot injury held him out for the entire season.

Set to turn 27 years old in August, Morrow is in the heart of his prime. He should have a good shot of replicating his excellent 2020 production. Regardless, he will be paid relatively modestly due to his one-year-wonder status, injury uncertainty, and lack of draft pedigree.

Blend all of those factors together and you have an excellent buy-low free agent.

The Jets could use help at the linebacker position but may not be willing to spend lucratively there with bigger fish to fry across the roster. For that reason, a lower-cost option like Morrow could be where they set their sights in free agency.

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Jonathan Richter
2 years ago

Add Keanu Neal to the list. He played for Jeff Ulbrich in Atlanta and the Jets were interested in him last year as another Safety to Linebacker conversion. Neal preferred to go to a playoff team in Dallas on a one-year $5 mil deal and is again a FA. He had a huge drop-off in production in Dallas. Perhaps reuniting with Ulbrich in a system he knows would rejuvenate him?

2 years ago

Nania, nice thoughts, I think 2 of these types of WR’s and a TE in the Everett price range if not hom exactly and Morrow is good player. I think we need these types of reasonable floor players. Then we can draft some high upside players and see who emerges. Which we can take solace in knowing that whoever wins the job will likely give us a solid if unspectacular player to fill those roles.

2 years ago

Morrow is a big yes for me. Very under rated LB. As for the recievers I’m quite surprised JuJu is t on this list considering this GM and Staff made a play for him last off season after signing Davis. Makes you think they saw a Tandem?

2 years ago

I like Everett and Robinson. Don’t know Morrow but at the right money sure.

2 years ago

Everett & Morrow would be nice, 6 million per realistic ?

2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

At those prices , would do a three year contract, previously uncharacteristic of JD, but this is a different time in the rebuild. These two signings at these prices allows 6-8 FA’s and very nice flexibility in this years draft. Outstanding insightful work as usual. Great content thanks