3 notable WRs the NY Jets can still sign in free agency…

After free agency last season, many believed the NY Jets had a very solid and intriguing wide receiver corps that, while lacking a true one-two punch, had enough juice and complementary skill sets to be a better-than-average group.

Sure, they weren’t the Bengals’ three-headed monster, and they didn’t have a pair of No. 1’s like the Dolphins, Eagles, or 49ers, but they did have a bonafide No. 1 in Garrett Wilson, an acceptable two in Corey Davis, another big-bodied receiver in Allen Lazard, and the speedy Elijah Moore.

They were a group of players with diverse skills, each contributing uniquely to enhance the team’s overall performance. However, by the end of the year, they found themselves starting undrafted free agents Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson alongside Wilson, while Lazard, who had just signed a $44 million contract, remained benched. Moore was traded just before the draft to secure capital for acquiring Aaron Rodgers, and Davis surprisingly retired at the beginning of training camp. This sudden turn of events left the once deep and dynamic receiving corps powerless.

The Jet Press, a FanSided publication, recently discussed three notable wide receivers the New York Jets could consider signing in free agency. Despite acquiring Mike Williams and drafting Malachi Corley, the Jets’ receiving corps could benefit from additional reinforcements.

Last season, the Jets’ wide receiver group was seen as solid and intriguing after free agency, although lacking a clear one-two punch. The lineup featured Garrett Wilson as a bona fide No. 1 receiver, Corey Davis as an acceptable No. 2, Allen Lazard as a big-bodied option, and the speedy Elijah Moore.

These players possessed complementary skill sets aimed at elevating the overall performance of the group. However, by the end of the season, the Jets found themselves starting undrafted free agents Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson alongside Wilson, while Lazard remained benched in the first year of his lucrative contract.

Unexpectedly, Moore was traded before the draft to acquire capital for Aaron Rodgers, and Davis retired at the start of training camp, leaving the once deep and dynamic receiving room ineffective.

To address their 30th-ranked receiving yards from last season, the Jets made moves to bolster their receiving corps in 2024. They signed veteran Mike Williams, pairing him with Wilson to potentially form the Jets’ best wide receiver duo since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker in 2015. Additionally, they traded up to draft Malachi Corley from Western Kentucky, whom they view highly despite concerns about Williams’ return to form after an ACL tear and Corley’s adjustment to NFL level competition.

Following the top three receivers on the depth chart are Lazard and three former undrafted free agents: Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee from the 2023 class and Irv Charles from the 2022 class.

Despite speculation that Lazard might regain his previous form with Rodgers back in the lineup, there are doubts about the Jets’ confidence in him, especially considering reports indicating their openness to trading him in March.

Brownlee and Gipson both flashed potential, primarily in the preseason, but ultimately failed to seize opportunities and Charles is essentially a Justin Hardee replacement known for special teams contributions over actually playing wide receiver. An injury or slow start out of the gate to any of the top three receivers on the depth chart could sink the team fast.

At this point in the year, pickings are slim on the free agent market and any available option comes with warts. That said, these are all players that can be had on the cheap that can stabilize the bottom of the depth chart and potentially take on a bigger role if need be. Here are three players who fit the bill.

1. The NY Jets could reunite with Corey Davis

Davis’s sudden retirement was a big blow to the Jets in 2023. As we’ve seen in the past, it’s questionable how much a player can contribute after a year away from football, but with Davis now reinstated and a free agent, he might be the best of the remaining crop.

He sometimes gets a bad rap among Jets fans for some crucial drops and missing time due to injury, but his entire career he’s been a reliable and versatile receiver.

For his career, his per 17-game averages are 60 receptions and 845 receiving yards — not too shabby for a depth piece. He also has the ability to play at times as a big slot thus adding to the versatility he could provide as a depth receiver.

Speculation emerged in March suggesting that the Jets had engaged in discussions with Davis regarding a possible reunion, indicating some level of interest. Despite uncertainties surrounding his performance after a year away from the NFL, Davis could be considered the most suitable and probable option for the Jets.

2. The NY Jets could sign Hunter Renfrow

Hunter Renfrow, a former fifth-round pick out of Clemson, started out his career very productive and exceeding expectations. After putting up at least 49 catches and 600 yards in each of his first two years in the league, he tallied 103 catches, 1,038 yards, and nine touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl selection in 2021.

2022 however saw him struggle to get acclimated in new head coach Josh McDaniels’ offense and injuries ultimately derailed his season. 2023 had him firmly entrenched in McDaniels’ dog house and was his worst season as a pro, posting just 25 catches for 255 yards and zero touchdowns.

McDaniels is known for favoring certain players while marginalizing others, which likely had an impact on team morale. Renfrow, it appears, wasn’t among McDaniels’ preferred players, resulting in fewer opportunities for him.

However, it’s worth considering whether Renfrow’s decline in production is solely attributable to McDaniels or if it’s also due to teams adapting to his playing style. Renfrow, although a skilled and reliable receiver, lacks elite speed and size, which may limit his effectiveness against certain defenses.

Another issue is Renfrow’s specialization as a slot receiver. This means he doesn’t provide depth in case of injuries to Wilson or Williams and would compete with Gipson for the backup slot receiver and return specialist roles.

There’s some value there, especially given that Gipson is currently the only player on the roster with return man experience, but it’s so much easier to cover an injury to the slot than it is to one of the outside receivers. Renfrow might have been a better fit before the Williams and Corley additions.

3. The NY Jets could sign Michael Thomas

Probably the biggest name on this list, Michael Thomas is a long way removed from being an alpha dog WR1. In 2019, he set the league on fire with 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. Since then injuries and age have plagued him.

He got hurt during the 2020 season and wound up missing the entire 2021 campaign. In the four years that followed his 2019 brilliance, he has only played in 20 of a possible 67 games. Last season was his healthiest year, playing 10 games and tallying 39 catches, 448 yards, and a touchdown.

There’s still some talent there. Thomas is also a big receiver who can play outside and has experience in the slot as well. No longer the primary option in the passing game and working as a depth piece to spell other receivers and step up in case of injury might keep him fresh throughout the year as well, giving reason to believe that he still can contribute to a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

However, the injury record and advancing age are legitimate concerns. Additionally, there are worries about potential locker room and off-field problems, which could make avoiding the situation altogether the most prudent course of action in the long run.

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