As the New York Jets head into the new league year it is time to start analyzing the roster in order to identify team needs. In this edition we will review the wide receiver group which is a position that could get a lot of attention as the Jets transition to the west coast offense.
Santonio Holmes (20 catches, 272 receiving yards, 1 td): 2012 was a lost season for Santonio as he missed 12 games due to a serious foot injury.
2013 outlook: The Jets desperately need Holmes to return to form for the 2013 season. The offense is devoid of playmakers and Santonio could do some damage in the west coast offense. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets try to re-work Holmes’ contract as he has a $12.5 million dollar cap value in 2013.
Stephen Hill (21 catches, 252 receiving yards, 3 tds): Stephen Hill burst on to the scene with a 6 catch, 89 yard, 2 touchdown performance against the Buffalo Bills. The remainder of the season the rookie struggled to find his way displaying very inconsistent hands. Hill missed the last 5 games of the season with a knee injury.
2013 outlook: Assuming that Hill is fully recovered from his injury the top priority for the young receiver is to improve his hands. Stephen must do a better job of holding on to the football or he will have a hard time staying in the lineup. World class speed is useless if you keep dropping the ball. In addition Hill must continue to work on getting separation from the defender and focus on running crisper routes. I am not exactly sold on the fact that Stephen Hill is a good fit for the west coast offense, but hopefully he can find his role.
Jeremy Kerley (56 catches, 827 receiving yards, 2 tds) : Jeremy was arguably the Jets best offensive player in 2012. Kerley became a reliable target for Mark Sanchez and was very productive after the catch. The 2012 season was a tremendous learning experience for Jeremy Kerley as he often faced difficult coverage as he was the primary playmaker on the field.
2013 outlook: The sky could be the limit for Jeremy Kerley in the west coast offense. I can see the Jets moving Jeremy all over the field in order to get favorable match-ups. The return of a healthy Holmes would be a huge benefit to Kerley.
Braylon Edwards (10 catches, 125 receiving yards): Following a release from the Seahawks Braylon returned to the Jets and played 3 games in 2012. Edwards immediately filled a void for the Jets as he was a big target for Sanchez and a consistent blocker. For whatever reason it just seems like Braylon Ewards truly enjoys playing for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
2013 outlook: Braylon Edwards is an unrestricted free agent, but I can see the Jets making a push to re-sign him (especially if Sanchez returns). I think the team will offer Braylon a little over the veteran minimum with some incentives written in.
Chaz Schilens (28 receptions, 289 receiving yards, 2 tds): No one truly knew what to expect out of Schilens as he battled injuries throughout his career prior to coming to the Jets. Chaz was a very good blocker but did not make enough plays to be a considered a #1 or #2 receiver.
2013 outlook: Schilens is an unrestricted free agent and I do not think that he will be re-signed by the Jets.
Clyde Gates (16 receptions, 224 receiving yards): Clyde Gates saw extensive playing time in 2012 as the Jets receiving group was decimated by injuries. Gates has very good speed, but has some issues with route running and getting separation. There were times where it was painful to watch Gates run a route.
2013 outlook: For whatever reason Rex Ryan likes what Clyde Gates brings to the table but I have a hard time believing that he will be on the roster in 2013.
Free agent options: Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Danny Amendola, Brian Hartline, Julian Edelman, Randy Moss, Josh Cribbs, Ramses Barden, Brandon Tate, Devery Henderson
Outlook: There are several big names that jump out at you but keep in mind that they are either a) going to be franchised or b) command a huge contract that the Jets cannot afford due to salary cap issues. At this point the Jets will be challenged to find lesser known players that will be able to make an impact on offense. As mentioned earlier I can see the Jets re-signing Braylon, maybe take a shot at a guy like Donnie Avery or Julian Edelman, and then look to the draft to add a receiver. I have always been curious about Brandon Tate but for whatever reason he never seems to put it altogether.