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Each star WR target for New York Jets offers something different
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?
On Wednesday, many of the New York Jets faithful were subjected to a roller coaster of emotions – a roller coaster which unfortunately culminated in overwhelming disappointment as one of the league’s top playmakers, Tyreek Hill, chose the division rival Miami Dolphins as his preferred trade destination over the Jets.
While dwelling on the loss might be the easy thing to do at this time, let’s try being productive instead.
Tyreek Hill won’t be a New York Jet, and that’s that. But we actually learned something else from this whole debacle: General manager Joe Douglas, who until now has been accused of being a cheapskate, is actually more than willing to pay up for players he believes to be difference makers when the opportunity presents itself. Furthermore, wide receiver is high on his list of priorities for this offseason.
So we can go ahead and say it again with certainty: Tyreek Hill won’t be a New York Jet. But something else we can now say with certainty is that the Jets badly want to add another difference-maker to the receiver room, whether it be through a trade or through the draft.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets “are keeping an eye on the situations” of the Seattle Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf, the Tennessee Titans’ A.J. Brown and the San Francisco 49ers’ Deebo Samuel.
Cimini did make sure to add that “at this point, there’s no indication that any of them are available.” While that may be the case, the fact of the matter is that all of them are due for contract extensions, just like Hill.
Why does that matter? Because if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that all three of the players want to get paid… a lot.
This offseason has seen record-setting contracts dished out to wide receivers, essentially resetting the market. That means any contract from here on out that’s given to a receiver is going to be viewed in comparison to these ones, specifically Hill’s, which led the way with an average of $30 million per year.
What are the odds that all three of these teams resign their receivers without issue?
While any of these three players would immediately step in as Gang Green’s top wide receiver, each of them has a different skillset and would provide their own unique advantages. Let’s take a look at them.
It may seem like a lifetime ago, but back in 2015, the Jets reaped the full benefits of what a true number one wideout can do for an offense.
At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Brandon Marshall was an absolute freak of nature, who could make contested grabs over just about anyone while also being more than capable of separating downfield and just being an all-around safety blanket for then-quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
That’s exactly what D.K. Metcalf would provide for Zach Wilson.
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Metcalf’s size is comparable to Marshall’s. The difference, though, is that Metcalf runs a 4.33 40-yard dash (compared to Marshall’s 4.52), which is ridiculous, especially for someone of his size.
Another thing about Metcalf that head coach Robert Saleh is almost surely a huge fan of is his effort. We know Saleh loves those hard-nosed, 200 percent-effort type of players and Metcalf most definitely fits the bill. One need not look farther than his famous chase-down tackle on Budda Baker during the 2020 season.
DK Metcalf is FREAKY FAST. @dkm14
— NFL (@NFL) October 26, 2020
This one play shows off not only Metcalf’s freaky speed and instincts, but also his unrelenting effort to make the game-saving play. The Jets need guys like that.
Beyond his intangibles, Metcalf is a walking touchdown on the gridiron. Despite a slightly disappointing 2021 season in terms of receiving yardage (he still racked up 967), he reeled in 12 touchdowns, translating to 72 points for his team.
A reliable go-to red-zone target is something Zach Wilson sorely needs, and if one of Metcalf’s caliber can be had for the same trade package that was in place for Hill, it would seem like a no-brainer call to make.
Overall, the entire Seahawks team had a down year, so despite a slightly underwhelming yardage total in 2021, Metcalf figures to be one of the league’s best receivers in 2022. Simply put, he’d be a perfect “WR1” for Zach Wilson.
The situation with Brown is an interesting one. Despite no real indication that the Titans would even consider trading him, it’s widely known that he and Jets receiver Elijah Moore roomed together in college and are extremely close friends. It’s really for that reason alone that his name has been floated around as a potential trade target for Douglas.
That is, until Saturday, when Brown – who, again, is due for a contract extension – tweeted out an interesting message, reading: “It’s out of my hands. God I trust you!”
It’s out of my hands. God I trust you!
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) March 26, 2022
As is essentially the norm for professional athletes on Twitter, Brown gave no context to go with this tweet. Naturally, Jets nation exploded, understandably assuming that it had something to do with his contract talks. As of now, that’s all we have to go off of in terms of Brown’s situation in Tennessee.
The former Ole Miss Rebel stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 225 pounds. Drafted in the second round in 2019, he’s become a force for the Titans over the past three seasons, catching 185 passes for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns. If not for injuries in 2021, Brown would have begun his career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He’s currently just 24 years old.
From a character standpoint, he’s as good as they come. With a confidence in himself that seems to perfectly straddle the line with cockiness, Brown is the kind of receiver who perfectly fits the bill of an alpha dog. It also doesn’t take a football genius to see that he’s one of the more naturally talented players in the entire league.
In college, Zach Wilson thrived at giving his receivers a chance to go up and make a play. That just so happens to be where Brown thrives. In 2021, Brown had a contested-catch rate of 52.2%, which for comparison, was higher than that of DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Mike Evans, among others.
Talking purely in terms of projections, Brown could very well sit at the top of the list of the NFL’s best receivers in just a few years’ time. If the Jets can somehow swipe a player like that right from under Tennessee’s nose, it might be safe to begin construction of the Joe Douglas statue outside MetLife Stadium immediately.
Samuel is quite easily the most unique player of the three. In fact, it’s a pretty blurry line as to whether he’s even a receiver at all — some would say he’s more of a running back.
But do not let that fool you; the 6-foot-tall, 216-pound Samuel is one of the league’s premier young playmakers. He finished his breakout 2021 season with 1,405 receiving yards (nearly half of those yards came after the catch) and six receiving touchdowns to go with 365 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
By season’s end, Samuel had accounted for 1,770 total yards of offense and 14 total touchdowns for the 49ers — the literal definition of production.
Particularly in the Jets offense, which is derived from that of Kyle Shanahan’s in San Francisco, the strengths and elite traits that Samuel has already shown to utilize so effectively — yards after catch, quick twitch, play strength — would only continue to develop under Mike LaFleur.
We’ve already seen the insane possibilities that LaFleur is capable of drawing up — it’s hard to even imagine the kind of craziness and innovation he could design for Samuel.
Why spend all the time and effort to find someone to fill that “Deebo Samuel role” in the Jets offense when you could have Deebo Samuel fill the Deebo Samuel role?
The one concern that comes with Samuel is the fact that prior to this season, he showed a concerning inability to stay healthy. However, pairing his rare talent with the fact that he completed the 2021 season mostly healthy, it would seem that Samuel is worth the risk.
We now know for a fact that Joe Douglas badly wants to add a number one wide receiver to the Jets roster. Whether that comes in the draft or via a trade for one of these players, one thing is for sure: Zach Wilson needs as much support as he can get.