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NY Jets’ WR options dwindling entering Day 3 of free agency

Mike Williams
Mike Williams

The New York Jets are running out of ways to improve their WR unit

The 2024 NFL league year will kick off today at 4 p.m. ET, marking free agency’s official start. However, free agency is already well underway as teams have been allowed to agree upon contracts since Monday at noon.

In that short time, the wide receiver market has dwindled considerably. It’s a major position of need for the New York Jets, but they have yet to address the position and are running out of options.

Before the offseason, there were hopes that Mike Evans, Michael Pittman, and Tee Higgins would all hit free agency. Instead, Evans and Pittman re-signed with their teams while Higgins was franchise-tagged and has since requested a trade.

There were several enticing names available still despite losing the top three players. Calvin Ridley led the pack and was followed by Marquise Brown, Gabriel Davis, Darnell Mooney, and Tyler Boyd. Aside from free agents, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Diontae Johnson were all rumored to be available.

Fast forward one week to today, and only two players listed above – Brown and Boyd – are even remote possibilities for the Jets.

Ridley is widely expected to return to the Jaguars or sign with the Patriots after 4 p.m. today. Davis (Jaguars) and Mooney (Falcons) each signed three-year contracts worth $39 million. Jeudy was traded to Cleveland for fifth and sixth-round picks while Johnson was traded to Carolina for cornerback Donte Jackson and a swap of Day 3 picks (sixth-round for seventh-round).

Despite having a need at wide receiver, the Jets reportedly did not show interest in any of the players that were signed or traded. Currently, the Jets wide receiver room is led by Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Xavier Gipson, and Jason Brownlee.

Who is left that could be added as a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers opposite of Wilson?

Remaining WR options

The market hasn’t completely dried up as of this moment.

Tee Higgins could still be traded after requesting to be dealt on Monday. Marquise Brown and Tyler Boyd headline the free agent market outside of Ridley. Boyd, 29, was the top target in Cincinnati before being unseated by Higgins and then Ja’Marr Chase, and he remains a reliable slot option. Brown hasn’t quite lived up to his first-round billing but is still only 26 and has proven himself to be a respectable deep threat.

Via trade, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen have been rumored as trade or cut candidates. The Chargers are in a rough cap situation, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, they are expected to release or trade at least one of the following four players before 4 p.m. today: Williams, Allen, Khalil Mack, and Joey Bosa.

The Broncos are reportedly not shopping Courtland Sutton, so he is not an option for the time being.

Aside from the options above, the free agent market is down to serviceable No. 3-level targets in players like Curtis Samuel, Odell Beckham Jr., Josh Reynolds, Hunter Renfrow, and Michael Thomas.

The Jets have a new problem aside from the lack of options following their Day 1 signings. They can’t afford some of the options remaining.

Following their three Day 1 signings, the Jets only have somewhere between $12 million (per Over The Cap) and $18 million (per Spotrac) in cap space. Brown is projected to earn around $15 million per year while Williams and Allen would have cap hits of over $20 million if traded.

Time will tell how the Jets proceed, but time is of the essence. The 2023 season showed the roster needs more than just a quarterback to contend for a Super Bowl. In particular, they need more than one legitimate threat at wide receiver.

It’s up to Joe Douglas to maximize the Jets’ assets or else he’ll be looking for a new job in 2025. As things stand, the likelihood of drafting a wide receiver with the 10th overall pick has increased considerably.

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Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
2 months ago

I think it’s wrong to compare the amount of cap space the Jets have and the average annual salaries these WRs are expected to get. It’s all in how you structure it. With a large up from signing bonus the first year cap hit does not needs to be that large.