The New York Jets need to trade for Robert Woods
The NFL’s legal tampering window opened four days ago, and the frenetic fire of offseason drama is still burning.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Los Angeles Rams are receiving trade offers for wide receiver Robert Woods after they agreed to sign free-agent wide receiver Allen Robinson to a three-year, $45 million deal.
After signing Allen Robinson today, the Rams begin receiving calls about the availability of WR Robert Woods, who is now a prime trade candidate, per league sources. Woods is coming off a torn ACL, but is expected to be ready by training camp.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2022
The New York Jets need to be all over this. Let’s dive into it.
Why should the Jets trade for a wide receiver?
Before looking at Woods specifically, I want to discuss why I think it’s important for the Jets to add another wide receiver.
The newly re-signed Braxton Berrios is not that player. Berrios is a tremendous returner, electric weapon on gadget plays, and reliable backup slot receiver, but if he is a starting wide receiver for the Jets in quarterback Zach Wilson‘s all-important second year, then the team did not do enough to maximize Wilson’s chances of success. They can do a lot better than Berrios.
Many fans have turned their attention to the draft as the source of that third weapon, where exciting wide receiver prospects like USC’s Drake London and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson await.
The problem with the draft is this: while young prospects provide limitless ceilings, they also come with limitless floors. There’s no telling how good or bad a draft pick is going to be, regardless of how highly you think of the specific prospect or where in the draft he was selected.
You could get Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Or, you could get Kevin White, Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, John Ross, or Jalen Reagor. There is zero way of knowing with certainty until the future arrives.
With a proven veteran player, however, the floor is much higher.
Yes, a proven veteran player’s ceiling is lower than a draft pick’s ceiling due to his age and potential upcoming downturn. He also is much more expensive than a rookie, requiring a large chunk of cap space in addition to trade compensation. Conversely, rookies come on cheap, long-term, team-friendly deals.
But there’s a reason you give up so much for a veteran player. It’s because he gives you certainty.
We know these guys can play at a high level in the NFL. It’s a fact. We’ve seen it before. That doesn’t make it a guarantee that he will continue to play well (or stay healthy) in the future, but at least we know what the player is capable of at the professional level. The same can’t be said about a drafted player.
A veteran has a much higher chance of playing well in Year 1 than a rookie – and Year 1 help is what the Jets need.
New York cannot afford to risk having one of Wilson’s top targets being a rookie who lands on the John Ross side of the scale instead of the Ja’Marr Chase side. It just can’t happen to Wilson in this crucial stage of his development. Wilson needs as much reliability from his receivers as he can get.
Only a veteran can provide him with that.
Why is Robert Woods the right guy for the New York Jets?
1. Woods gives the Jets a top-tier WR talent who fits the scheme and is consistent
The wide receiver market has been drained. With guys like Chris Godwin, Amari Cooper, Davante Adams, and Allen Robinson all off the board, the Jets are running out of options who would be surefire talent upgrades for their wide receiver unit.
It was looking like the Jets would be left with free-agency scraps such as Sammy Watkins and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. But with the emergence of Woods on the trade market, the Jets have another shot to grab a receiver who has top-tier talent.
Woods has long been a reliable weapon for the Rams, providing extremely consistent and stable production. He ranks 17th among wide receivers with 68.0 receiving yards per game since 2017, collecting 4,626 yards in 68 games. That number puts him on pace for 1,156 yards per 17 games.
Over that same span, Woods has dropped only 15 passes while catching 382 passes. That gives him a superb drop rate of 3.9%. His elite hands would be an enormous boon for Wilson.
Woods would also give the Jets a strong scheme fit. He emerged in the offense of Rams head coach Sean McVay, who comes from the same coaching tree as Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
Woods’ precise route-running on short and intermediate routes would allow him to fit right into New York’s scheme. He’s also a fantastic run-blocker, another key trait for wide receivers in the Jets’ offense.
An added bonus in Woods’ game is his ability to contribute as a rusher – yet another skill that is featured in LaFleur’s scheme.
Over the past four seasons, Woods rushed 68 times for 473 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 7.0 yards per carry.
If you combine Woods’ contributions as a receiver and a rusher, he is averaging 75.2 scrimmage yards per game since 2017, which puts him on pace for 1,278 yards per 17 games.
The best aspect of Woods’ production is his consistency. Woods has performed well on a game-to-game and year-to-year basis without many severe spikes or valleys in his output.
From 2018-19, Woods recorded back-to-back seasons with over 85 receptions and 1,200 scrimmage yards. He had 90 receptions and 1,091 scrimmage yards in 2020. This past season, Woods was on pace for 85 receptions and 1,137 yards through nine games before his season came to an end due to an ACL injury during practice in Week 10.
2. Woods has legitimate question marks but those are canceled out by the low risk of his contract
Obviously, Woods’ ACL injury is a major concern – especially when you consider he will turn 30 years old in April. It is expected that Woods will return to the field in time for training camp, so there is little concern regarding his capability of being ready for the regular season, but you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank.
That brings me to the most important factor in why Woods is such a great trade target for the Jets: He comes with a very low amount of risk thanks to his contract.
Woods signed a four-year contract extension in September 2020 that begins in the 2022 season. On paper, it appears to be a hefty four years and $65 million, but it’s actually an extremely friendly deal to trade for.
If Woods were traded, the Rams would pay him the $8.6 million of his prorated signing bonus that is owed to him over the next four years. That is the only guaranteed money left on his deal, leaving Woods’ new team in the clear.
Woods’ new team will take on Woods for four years and $60.5 million ($53 million in base salary and a maximum of $7.5 million in roster bonuses), but they will not owe him any guaranteed money. This means that if things do not work out in 2022, they could cut him after the year and clear him off the books with no dead money. The same applies for each of the next three years on his deal.
In 2022, Woods’ cap hit would be $13.5 million with a new team, which is affordable for a player of his caliber. It’s less than Corey Davis’ 2022 cap number ($13.7 million) and would rank outside of the top-20 among wide receivers.
Woods would probably be a player to avoid if not for his friendly contract, as the concerns regarding his age and injury recovery are very real. But since he can be acquired on an affordable year-to-year trial with no commitment beyond the current season, it’s a no-brainer for the Jets to take a shot on him.
Jets need to move fast for Robert Woods
Things are likely to move very quickly here. Woods is due a $3.5 million roster bonus this Sunday, March 20. If the Rams don’t trade him before then, it’s another $3.5 million they’ll owe to a player that will already require them to eat $8.6 million if traded. So, there’s a strong chance Woods is dealt before then.
This is a golden opportunity for general manager Joe Douglas, who hinted at an aggressive mentality on the trade market earlier this year.
In his season-ending press conference, Douglas said, “I think we’re always going to be aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself. The good thing is that I think moving forward, we can be in just about any discussion when it comes to player trades.”
Woods is the perfect player to be aggressive for. The risk is low, and if it works out, the ceiling is tantalizingly high. Woods would give Zach Wilson a supremely reliable veteran pass-catcher that fits the scheme, forming a strong trio with Elijah Moore and Corey Davis.
Acquiring Woods would raise the quality of Wilson’s supporting cast to an incredible level. With the additions New York has already made to its offensive line and tight end unit, picking up a quality receiver would be the cherry on top, cementing a wonderful environment to foster Wilson’s development.
The Jets could still draft and develop a wide receiver after acquiring Woods. New York would have the luxury to be patient with the youngster’s development thanks to Woods’ presence, allowing him to develop at his own pace instead of rushing him into the lineup and expecting him to move mountains on day one.
Going after Woods makes so much sense for New York. If they can grab him for a mid-round draft selection, they’ve got to pounce. The market for eight-figure wide receivers has significantly thinned now that so many of them have already been taken, so the Jets should conceivably have light competition for Woods. He’s theirs if they want him.
It’s time for Douglas to make the big trade he’s been hinting at.