The Jets’ culture does not tolerate me-first players
The New York Jets seemingly cannot have nice things.
With all of the positive vibes in the midst of a three-game winning streak and a 4-2 start, wide receiver Elijah Moore has requested a trade, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Sources: #Jets WR Elijah Moore, frustrated with his role and usage, has asked for a trade. The team has no plans at all to trade him. The former second rounder was targeted once in the win over the #Packers, but the play was negated by a penalty. pic.twitter.com/JJvSbnxXZ1
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 20, 2022
This saga began when Moore came out following Sunday’s game and lamented his lack of targets on Twitter (he later deleted the tweet).
On Thursday, the situation rapidly escalated when Moore missed practice for a personal day. Although it was originally reported that Moore was excused for a family matter, it later came out that he was essentially sent home by Robert Saleh following his disgruntlement over his lack of targets.
Moore’s close friend, Eagles receiver A.J. Brown, also wrote a cryptic tweet that fueled the fire (he deleted it shortly thereafter).
A few hours later, Rapoport broke the news.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini and others, the Jets have no plans to trade Moore. However, Denzel Mims‘s time may have come, as he has been practicing in the X role and would be the next man up should Moore be inactive on Sunday.
The question is if refusing to trade Moore is the right approach. There are several layers involved in this question.
However, requesting a trade due to a lack of personal numbers when the team is riding high is anything but high character. It shows a level of selfishness and a diva nature that is antithetical to what the Jets want on their team. Keeping Moore around would send a contradictory message. As Bill Belichick has always instilled in his teams, no one is bigger than the team.
“The #Jets have no plans to trade Elijah Moore” would be the message from this front office, whether or not they’d actually pull the trigger. Leverage, culture message, etc.
This is absurd. Can’t have it on a football team. It’s that simple, and both Saleh and Douglas know it.
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) October 20, 2022
How would they replace him?
Moore plays the Jets’ X position pretty often. It appears that Denzel Mims will be the next man up, but much has been written about Mims’s poor 2021 season and his lack of fit in the Jets’ offensive system. Garrett Wilson is obviously promising, and Corey Davis has been the Jets’ most consistent receiver this season, particularly later in games.
Many Jets fans like Braxton Berrios, but he is far more of a gadget player than a legitimate receiving threat. He can be a third-down target in the slot, but that would move Garrett Wilson out of the slot. Although Wilson can play outside if Moore needs the slot to get him going, it’s not ideal to put Wilson outside for a lesser receiver like Berrios. Berrios’s main skill level is with the ball in his hands, but he doesn’t run great routes or create consistent separation.
Jeff Smith is the Jets’ only other receiving option. He is primarily a special teamer for a reason. His speed is enticing, but speed alone does not a wide receiver make.
If the Jets were to trade Moore, it would significantly deplete their receiving depth. It could be argued that nothing much would change given that Moore has rarely been used in recent weeks, but Moore still represents a significant decoy, at minimum. Teams need to respect Moore’s talent. With Denzel Mims or Jeff Smith out there, Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis will have even less space to work with.
The only way to replace Moore would be to trade for another wide receiver. The question is if there’s a receiver available who’s worth trading Moore for.
Moore’s quiet start to the 2022 season has significantly diminished his trade value. From Weeks 8-13 in 2021, Moore had 34 receptions (9th among WRs), 459 yards (6th), five TDs (T-1st), and 2.59 yards per route run (6th). Following that promising stretch that was cut short by an injury, many expected Moore to take his place as the Jets’ WR1 this season.
Instead, Moore has just 16 receptions for 203 yards and no TDs this season. His trade request further brings up character concerns that give the Jets very little leverage in any trade proposal.
Moore was the No. 34 overall pick in the 2021 draft. At the bare minimum, the Jets would want to recoup his draft value in a trade. Can they get a high second-round pick for a guy who’s been largely absent this season and is currently disgruntled? That’s an iffy proposition, at best. I don’t believe that Joe Douglas would just give Moore away for a later pick.
As stated earlier, a receiver-for-receiver trade would make the most sense for the Jets. However, the only real receiver available is D.J. Moore of the Panthers. Although D.J. has talent, his current stats are nearly identical to Elijah’s, with 20 receptions for 204 yards and one score. Other than that, Brandin Cooks was another name that came up, but Cooks is 29 and coming off a litany of injuries.
In terms of non-receiver assets, the Panthers’ Bryan Burns and Derrick Brown have been thrown out there. However, the Panthers were said to be asking for multiple first-round picks for each. That’s not going to happen. The Jets can also use an offensive tackle, and Tayler Moton from the Panthers has been bandied about, but his contract would be difficult to take on.
The Jets can scour the market for a coverage safety or linebacker (such as Roquan Smith) that Moore can be traded for. But it makes the most sense for the team to try to get back a usable piece for this season, which is starting to look like a playoff push, rather than trying to obtain draft picks.
Can Douglas do it again?
Joe Douglas has come from a place of poor leverage before and still obtained above-market value. The Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold trades netted the Jets far above the value that anyone would have reasonably expected in return for a disgruntled, outspoken safety wanting a payday and a first-round bust.
If Douglas and Saleh do indeed decide that pulling the plug is necessary to maintain the team’s culture, this may be the steepest test yet for Douglas. Moore has a world of talent, but the combination of his lackluster production and me-first approach to this situation will not make him easy to trade. However, he does have some pretty impressive film out from last year, and a team that needs a receiver, such as the Green Bay Packers, could still provide the Jets with some leverage to work a favorable deal.
What happens from here with Elijah Moore is anyone’s guess. This is a situation that devolved extremely quickly and has no place on a Jets team just beginning to find itself. The Jets can only hope that they are able to resolve the situation and move on.