Following Elijah Moore’s trade to the Cleveland Browns, let’s evaluate the move from the New York Jets’ perspective
Within an hour of each other, Gang Green signed Mecole Hardman and then traded Elijah Moore. The former move was lauded by the fan base, while the latter was met with mixed reactions.
Let’s focus on the Moore trade and discuss the various factors at play here. Did Joe Douglas just lose his first trade with the Jets? Or did he make a savvy move that will put him in a much better draft and bargaining position?
Based on pure NFL trade parameters, the return the Jets received for Moore was decent. The move up from pick No. 74 to 42 is the equivalent of the 66th overall pick, which is the second pick of the third round.
In terms of trade value points the Jets essentially just netted the value of the 66th overall pick (high 3rd) by going from 74 (220pts) to 42 (480pts). So it's really not awful value. But man, I liked Moore's film a lot and thought he deserved a shot in NY with a real QB.
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 22, 2023
Since it was reported earlier that the Browns had an interest in Moore, it’s fair to speculate that Douglas decided he’d prefer to move up to a second-rounder rather than receive another third-rounder in isolation.
In many waves, that calculation makes sense. Although the Packers want a first-round pick in return for Aaron Rodgers, a bunch of NFL executives agreed that a second-rounder is a more realistic ask. However, Douglas wanted to still have a second-rounder, so he netted another one of similar value in trading Moore.
This gives the Jets two second-round picks, which will make it easier to unload one for Rodgers.
Still, in terms of Moore’s own draft slot in 2021, it’s a net loss. He was drafted at No. 34 overall and returned the equivalent of No. 66. That’s a full-round drop for a player who showed a lot of potential in his rookie year and was often projected to be a first-rounder prior to the draft.
Is it really a third-rounder?
The Jimmy Johnson trade chart is still referred to by analysts when looking at any trades involving draft picks. However, for over a decade, analytics gurus have pointed out significant flaws with the chart in terms of actual expected value.
Pro Football Reference has a metric called Approximate Value, which they use to approximate the value of each player. Although not a perfect metric, it is often used in draft comparisons because of it can be easily generalized.
Here is the difference between the Jimmy Johnson trade chart and the value of each draft slot according to the average expected AV.
According to the AV chart, the No. 74 pick is worth 7.2 points of AV, while the No. 42 pick is worth 10.8. The 3.6-point difference is equivalent to the No. 130 overall pick, which is a late fourth-rounder.
By that accounting, Douglas received the same lower value from this trade as he would have by trading Moore straight-up for a fourth-round pick. Moreover, since the Browns’ fourth-rounders are picks 111 and 126, the value of 130 is lower than what Douglas might have gotten straight up.
Still, this does not account for one fact: the chance that the specific second-round pick that a team drafts will be a hit is higher than the probability that the specific fourth-rounder will play well. In that sense, including the third-rounder to jump a round may still make more sense than acquiring the extra fourth-rounder.
It’s just important to keep in mind that the Jimmy Johnson draft chart is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to NFL trades. By AV, this is not as good of a trade for Douglas.
Moore was always a prime candidate to be moved this offseason. His midseason beef with Mike LaFleur, complete with cursing out his coach, followed by a trade request left the writing on the wall.
Not only is a trade request inherently a locker-room distraction, but he made it when the Jets were 4-2, having won three games in a row and coming off an upset victory over Rodgers and the Packers. Combining the timing and the actual request, it was a pure me-first move that did not sit well with Douglas, Robert Saleh, and most likely many of Moore’s teammates, as well.
Meanwhile, Moore has involved himself in more controversy this offseason by showing support for Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, whose anti-Semitic tweets caused a furor (and in Irving’s case, a suspension).
Furthermore, Moore’s play on the field has shown hints of that me-first approach, as well. He has a tendency to take plays off dating back to his time at Ole Miss. His lack of hustle caused several interceptions last season, and he ran out of bounds on a lateral drill to end the second Patriots matchup. This is not the kind of lackadaisical play that the Jets want from their players.
This trade is most likely about Moore’s trade request and bizarre antics. In that sense, it’s a win to get back the equivalent of a third-round pick if it was known that the team was trying to trade him.
Potential vs. reality
Moore’s rookie year was undoubtedly exciting. Following a slow start, from Weeks 8-13 of the 2021 season, he averaged 5.7 catches, 76.5 yards, and 0.83 touchdowns per game. Extrapolated over a 17-game season, that is 96 catches for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns.
However, his production plummeted in 2022. Even when you factor in his one-game benching due to his trade request and then his virtual benching the next two games, his production never lived up to WR3 status, let alone the WR1 that he was supposed to be heading into the season.
Moore’s final stat line was 37 receptions for 446 yards and one touchdown in 16 games. That is WR4-level production. It was going to be hard to get significant value in return for Moore just based on that poor season, let alone any of his off-the-field issues.
Still, there was some excitement surrounding the potential for a big-time bounce-back from Moore with Rodgers throwing him the football. His tape showed a lot of meat left on the bone by poor quarterbacking in 2022, as he found ways to get open but was often either not targeted or missed.
Cleveland was willing to pay for Moore’s potential, but only to a certain point. That’s where the equivalent of the No. 66 pick came in and how the Jets were able to nab the No. 42 pick.
Jets’ WR room
The Jets now have a hole at receiver, unless you assume that the team is going to keep Corey Davis. Technically, a room of Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Davis, Hardman, and Denzel Mims could be considered complete.
However, it’s highly unlikely that the Jets are going to stand pat after having unloaded Moore. They’ve been linked to Odell Beckham Jr. all offseason and continue to be following the trade.
Sources: #Jets interest in Odell Beckham Jr. described to me as “very real.”
He and Aaron Rodgers are close and have discussed playing together in New York. Basically, Rodgers wants OBJ.
With Elijah Moore gone .. opening is there.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) March 22, 2023
Other names to keep an eye on are DeAndre Hopkins, Courtland Sutton, and Jerry Jeudy, all of whom have been in trade rumors this offseason. It was reported that the Cowboys moved off Jeudy to Brandin Cooks because Denver wants a first-rounder for their WR; if that is the case, it’s more likely to cross one or both of Sutton and Jeudy off the list. Still, there’s always the possibility that a move gets made.
There was also speculation that the Jets could try to trade for Mike Evans with the perception that the Buccaneers are rebuilding following Tom Brady’s retirement. However, there have been no concrete reports that Evans is available or that the Jets would be interested.
As far as Corey Davis is concerned, these moves make it perhaps even more likely that he is included in the Rodgers deal. Green Bay has not replaced Lazard in their lineup, and Davis has a similar profile. It was originally speculated that Moore could be involved in the trade to give the Packers a cheap, high-upside player, but with that off the table, it leaves Davis as an obvious candidate.
The fact that the Jets have not let go of Davis to save $10.5 million in cap space, despite previous reports that it was likely, further indicates that they consider him a possible trade chip.
Multiple Jets players have reacted to the Moore trade on Twitter.
— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) March 22, 2023
One of the realest out. He gone shine 💯 https://t.co/ZATGNrPvGj
— Michael Carter II (@mcarter2nd) March 22, 2023
“He requested a trade in the middle of the season “ lol bruh shut up he still my dawg no matter what! pic.twitter.com/rRs8jeCiAj
— Trending Topic 🤷🏾♂️ (@BigTicket73) March 22, 2023
Still, the front office clearly felt otherwise, and it would not be overly surprising to hear that others in the locker room agree.
It is difficult to grade this trade in a vacuum due to the corresponding moves that will likely happen in the coming days. If the team obtains a different WR2/3 and trades for Rodgers while still having a 2023 second-round pick, that has to be considered a win for Douglas.
However, this trade knocks a further blow into Douglas’ draft record. Moore was considered the crown jewel of the 2021 class after the Zach Wilson pick did not work out. Trading him away after his disappointing 2022 season does not allow him to redeem himself, leaving the 2021 first- and second-round return very bare. Coupled with the team’s miserable 2020 draft, Douglas is now essentially 1-for-3.
As good as the 2022 draft appears so far, whiffing on two drafts in a row is a grave knock on a general manager’s record. With his spotty record in free agency thus far, Douglas has not acquitted himself quite as well as Jets fans sometimes paint him. His return for Moore appears to be about as good as could be expected in this situation, but he’s had to dig himself out of some self-made holes after doing a solid job undoing the wrongs of his predecessor.
Obviously, if Moore lives up to his potential in Cleveland, this will be a bitter pill for Jets fans to swallow. Still, if the trade brings Rodgers to the Jets, precedes other savvy moves, and brings a Super Bowl ring, then the sting will disappear.
Though the record is not complete on the trade, my current verdict is a B.
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