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NY Jets’ WR roster battles look far different after Corey Davis’ exit

Jason Brownlee, NY Jets
Jason Brownlee, New York Jets, Getty Images

The battles for New York Jets’ potential WR5 and WR6 spots have been drastically altered by Corey Davis’ retirement

Until Wednesday afternoon, the New York Jets’ wide receiver competition seemingly revolved around figuring out which player would make the 53-man roster as the sixth WR – if the Jets even decided to keep that many.

In a shocking turn of events, Corey Davis announced on Wednesday that he is retiring from the NFL. It is a move that depletes the depth of the wide receiver room and casts some doubt about the status of the position group.

More importantly, it now escalates the internal wide receiver competition to a new level. Instead of potentially one roster spot, Davis’s retirement opens the door for two of the back-end receivers to make the roster.

In this competition, the main competitors have been Jason Brownlee and Xaiver Gipson.

Brownlee has been talked about extensively this offseason, and I wrote about his early standout performance at the beginning of training camp.

Following a strong start to camp, Brownlee had his fair share of ups and downs throughout game action and practice. At times in practice, he has struggled with drops and separation, which plagued the UDFA back at Southern Miss. It seemed that Brownlee’s momentum was starting to fizzle out, as he was not making the same plays that he was at the beginning of camp.

However, Brownlee regained his footing in the Jets’ recent preseason game against Tampa Bay. Showing better route running and hands, he caught four passes for 50 yards The rookie displayed his elusiveness after the catch by racking up 27 YAC.

Xavier Gipson is giving Brownlee a run for his money. A UDFA out of Stephen F. Austin, Gipson has looked shifty and quick whenever he steps onto the field. The rookie has consistently found space with his routes and can make plays with the ball in his hands when working from the slot.

More importantly (in terms of finding a role on this roster for the 2023 season), Gipson has shown potential as a returner. Gipson had a 45-yard kickoff return against Cleveland and a 31-yard punt return against Tampa Bay; although he did muff a punt against Cleveland (which he recovered).

Brownlee and Gipson are not the only players in this competition. Malik Taylor, a former Green Bay Packer from 2019 to 2022, is experienced on special teams and caught a deep bomb from Zach Wilson in the Hall of Fame Game. Taylor, 27, played 313 special teams snaps over 25 regular season games for the Packers, making five tackles.

Irvin Charles is another competitor. Charles has been featured as a gunner with the punt team and has shown the ability to grab jump balls with his 6-foot-4-inch frame.

The question is how or if the Jets will fit two of these players on their roster.

Will the Jets value the return ability of Gipson while banking on his development as a shifty slot receiver? Can the Jets see Brownlee turning into a top-three receiver for them in the next few years after they develop him this season? Or will they value the special teams ability of Taylor?

Ultimately, the Jets’ decision comes down to how they view the status of the receiver position in both the short and long term. Brownlee and Gipson can be developed for the future, but if the Jets prefer players who can help them win now, they might feel better about adding a different receiver from waivers in the coming weeks. Additionally, they could bide their time and try to trade for an upgrade.

Brownlee and Gipson have both impressed in their own ways, giving themselves an opportunity to make the Jets’ initial 53-man roster. Combined with the sudden retirement of Corey Davis, the Jets’ WR battle has completely changed in a rapid fashion.

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10 months ago

IMHO Malik Taylor gets one of the two spots. His experience in the NFL and specifically w/ Aaron, and his ST abilities have to hold some sway w/ the coaches and AR.
After that I think Gipson gets the nod, again b/c of ST abilities. I just hope Brownlee, Charles, Kapp et al don’t get stolen when we try to sneak them on the Practice Squad.