Why it's more likely Jets draft a receiver than trade for Deebo Samuel

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Deebo Samuel red 49ers jersey
Deebo Samuel red 49ers jersey

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The news that Deebo Samuel requested a trade from San Francisco surely didn’t come as a surprise to the Jets. And when it broke on Wednesday, it’s a safe bet Joe Douglas picked up the phone and called the 49ers, if he hadn’t done it already.

The Jets general manager remains, as always, “ready to strike” and he’s made no secret about his search for a dynamic, game-breaking, No. 1 receiver.

But it still remains most likely that the big-time weapon he’s after is going to have to come from the draft.

Things can, and often do, change quickly, but as of right now there is no indication at all that the 49ers plan to grant Samuel his wish, according to multiple NFL sources. In fact, one source from an interested team said the 49ers won’t even listen to an offer. They know they have a star in the 26-year-old and they have him under contract through this season and the ability to franchise tag him after that.

There’s also no indication that Seattle is willing to trade DK Metcalf. Ditto for the Tennessee Titans and A.J. Brown. And for the moment there are no other big-time receivers known to be demanding a new contract or scrubbing their social media accounts of references to their current team.

Douglas would surely be interested in any of them, just like he was in Tyreek Hill, who almost became a Jet, and just like he was in Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley. He didn’t shy away from his willingness to be “aggressive” for a receiver when he was asked about Samuel on Thursday and said, “Since coming here I’ve made it known my job is to get the team better, and we’re going to do that via any avenue we can.”

But he has just about run out of time and available receivers, so unless something changes in the next week, Douglas has to move forward as if his quest to trade for a No. 1 receiver failed. His focus now has to be on which one he takes with the 10th overall pick in the draft, where he figures to be able to get either the first or second receiver on his board.

an 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) leaves the field against the Buffalo Bills after warm ups before an AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
an 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) leaves the field against the Buffalo Bills after warm ups before an AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

And there should be some really good ones available, even if none of them seem to remind scouts of Ja’Marr Chase, the NFL’s reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson has 4.38 speed and a burst that reminds some scouts of a young Odell Beckham Jr. USC’s Drake London has the size (6-4, 219) and hands that every quarterback needs in his receivers. And Alabama’s Jameson Williams might be the best of all of them, if they can overlook the fact that he might not be available until November as he recovers from a torn ACL.

Any one of them would enhance a Jets receiving corps that has a strong No. 2 in Corey Davis and emerging talent in Elijah Moore. They all have the potential to be the kind of dominant weapon that Douglas was looking for when he nearly traded for Hill – a player that keeps defensive coordinators up at night, which none of the Jets’ current receivers really do.

And the beauty of selecting one of them now is that it doesn’t take the Jets out of a pursuit of Samuel later, whether that’s later this spring or even next offseason. Davis is only signed through 2023 and his contract is structured so he can be cut after this season with almost no “dead money” left behind. Douglas has been a master at building financial flexibility into the Jets’ future so when he says he’s “ready to strike” it’s more than words. He really can.

So if there is a future chance to add Samuel or Metcalf or Ridley, Douglas can still do it, even if he finds a No. 1 receiver at pick No. 10. In an increasingly pass-heavy league, the more star receivers he can grab, the better, especially since, as Douglas said, his whole plan to build the Jets into a contender “is going to be about developing and helping our young quarterback.” And to do that, he understands his mission “is about adding as many difference makers as you can to the roster.”

He can’t wait and hope that a difference maker at receiver becomes available in the future. He needs to find that difference maker right now. That’s why his long search seems to be leading to the 10th overall pick. He may not find a Samuel, Metcalf or Hill there – at least not right away – but the receiver he does find there is definitely going to be a huge help.