Analyzing Jets' WRs after Mecole Hardman signing, Elijah Moore trade
The Jets added one receiver and then traded one away on a busy Wednesday afternoon to move two steps closer towards the final configuration among their pass catchers.
However, there may still be a move or two to come. Let’s recap where the group currently stands following the Mecole Hardman signing and Elijah Moore trade.
With Braxton Berrios headed to Miami, Jeff Smith joining the Giants and now Moore’s trade to the Browns, the receiver room is already going to be missing some familiar faces in 2023. All that remains from last year’s rotation are Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims.
Wilson is going nowhere. The NFL’s reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year is already a star and could take his game to the next level if, as expected, the Jets are able to complete the Aaron Rodgers trade at some point this offseason. However, Davis and/or Mims could be on rocky ground.
The Jets like Davis for his veteran leadership and his contract is looking a lot more reasonable as the market for top-level receivers has skyrocketed over the past year or two. However, his durability has been a constant concern and his production remains inconsistent. The Jets aren’t likely to keep him at his current price with a cap number of over $11 million, but there also isn’t likely to be much of an external market for him so he could be amenable to a pay reduction.
Mims, like Moore, had requested a trade last year and might end up getting his wish before the season, or even an outright release. However, if there’s room for him on the roster, perhaps he could finally realize the potential he has shown at times, albeit fleetingly.
Irvin Charles, Diontae Spencer and Malik Taylor are all also back from last year’s practice squad, but their chances of making the roster seem slim.
The New Additions
The big addition so far has been Allen Lazard; one of Rodgers’ favorite targets in Green Bay. Lazard has excellent size and can be a deep threat and a red zone weapon. If Lazard has a weakness, it’s that he can struggle to get open against press coverage. However, that’s an area Wilson excels at based on advanced metrics from his rookie season, so the pair should complement one another well.
Wednesday’s addition was Hardman, who replaces Berrios as the best return game option on the team but can also play a similar role on offense. He’ll go in motion, run jet sweeps and make yards after the catch on short passes. Hardman certainly isn’t just a return man as he’s been a productive wide receiver in his four years in the league with 20 total touchdowns.
The Jets have been linked with a number of pass catchers since it became apparent that Rodgers was willing to play for them, including Lazard himself.
While Rodgers bristled at the idea that he had provided the Jets with a “wish list,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett would already know what kind of players were going to work best in his system and with Rodgers at the helm.
The other two receivers that have been linked to a possible move to the Jets are Randall Cobb and Odell Beckham Jr.. The 32-year old Cobb has played most of his career with Rodgers and it’s widely expected that he could agree terms with the Jets as soon as Rodgers is on the team. As for Beckham, who Rodgers has publicly expressed his admiration for in the past, the door isn’t closed on a move for him either.
Beckham was a key member of the Rams team that won the Super Bowl after the 2021 season following a midseason trade as he came up big for them with a monster postseason. However, he hasn’t played since then due to a serious knee injury. He looked good at a recent workout, which the Jets attended, but has so far been unable to secure a contract at the kind of level he’s looking for. Could the Jets meet his demand now that they’ve moved Moore?
If the Jets get Cobb, he could be an ideal fourth or fifth option. That’s basically what he was with the Packers last year. When he saw more regular playing time due to injuries, Cobb stepped up and had some productive games, but the rest of the time he accepted his role and provided a good veteran locker room presence.
If the Jets can add Cobb and/or Beckham to a group that already comprises Wilson, Lazard, Davis and Hardman it could give Rodgers one of the most versatile and athletic receiving units he’s ever had at his disposal.
Anything you could want from a set of receivers is available from this group: Size, speed, route-running, abilities after the catch and competitiveness.
The only thing they arguably lack following Berrios and Moore’s exit is a natural slot receiver, although adding Cobb to the mix would address this on some level. In any case, all of the aforementioned receivers are capable of lining up inside and have produced from there in the past.
The Jets have tight ends and running backs who can do this too, so it could even add to the offensive flexibility Hackett will be able to draw upon.