The New York Jets have one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL and rebuilding that unit is going to be a big part of the offseason.
The New York Jets were one of five teams that didn’t have an 850-yard receiver in 2019. They were joined by the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Indianapolis Colts. Those raw numbers are disingenuous though.
The Cardinals and the Giants both had receivers who were on pace to break 900 yards had they played 16 games. So, in reality, the Jets were one of just three teams who didn’t have an 850-yard receiver.
Even among those teams, they’re clearly the worst. The Steelers have a legitimate No. 1 receiver who was held back by injuries and poor quarterback play in JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Colts also have a wide receiver who fits the same bill in T.Y. Hilton.
The Jets don’t have anyone close to that. Robby Anderson is the closest to being a No. 1 receiver, but he’s a free agent. Even if he does take the next step in 2020, it likely won’t be with the Jets.
The only starting-caliber wide receiver on the Jets’ roster is Jamison Crowder. They don’t have a single competent outside receiver on their roster. That has to change in free agency, but this very weak free-agent class is an issue.
The Jets are going to have to take some risks on some bargain-bin receivers with potential. That’s the only way to build a competent receiving corps this offseason. Luckily, there are a few guys who make sense.
Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs
Robinson is hard to project. He started in 10 games and played 70.5% of snaps, but he was a depth piece for the Chiefs. That may not make much sense, but it does when put in context.
Robinson played behind Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman. Travis Kelce was also more prominent in the passing game. It’s hard to put up numbers as the fifth option in an offense. Even in his starts, he was still the fourth option.
That explains Robinson’s pedestrian numbers. He put up only 32 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns. Those aren’t the numbers of a receiver who should be starting anywhere, but he has potential.
He’s only 25-years-old and played a ton of snaps in a crowded Chiefs offense. He’s also seen considerable improvement year to year in his career.
Robinson has speed on the field. That’s shown off in his 14 yards per reception this past season. That comes on both deep balls and yards after catch. Robinson had 111 yards after catch this season, which accounts for about 25% of his total yards.
He would be a decent fit and help fill the void that Anderson is leaving. Although he may not be as explosive a receiver, he fills the hole nicely for much cheaper.
New York will have competition if they decided to chase Robinson, but it could be worth it. There may not be a better buy-low option at wide receiver in this free-agent class.
Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Perriman is even harder to pin down than Robinson. A first-round pick in 2016, Perriman has been a huge bust. In 2017 and 2018 combined, he put together just 417 yards and two touchdowns. His fortunes changed in 2019.
Perriman joined the Buccaneers and despite only starting four games and playing 66.2% of snaps, he put up career-high numbers. Perriman’s 36 receptions for 645 yards and six touchdowns were due in large part to his big-play potential.
The question is, was that growth as a receiver or was that the result of playing in the Bucs offense? Perriman had just 127 yards after catch so his yards weren’t driven by his ability with the ball in his hands.
Instead, it was driven by his ability as a deep threat. That was the role Perriman was always supposed to fill. The speedster ran a 4.30 40-yard dash at the combine in 2016.
So did Perriman finally become the deep threat that everyone thought he was? Probably not, but it’s possible. The Bucs offense tends to inflate numbers for wide receivers.
Jameis Winston threw for 5,109 yards this past season, which led the NFL. That was the result of an NFL-high 626 pass attempts. Perriman also saw a career-high 69 targets. He wouldn’t be the first to see inflated numbers.
Adam Humphries rode scored a big payday in free agency after hauling in 76 receptions for 816 yards and five touchdowns. In 2019, his first away from Tampa, Humphries had just 37 receptions for 374 yards.
The good news with Perriman is that he should be able to fill a deep threat role for someone if nothing else. Perriman had 21.3 yards per reception in 2018 and 17.3 in 2019.
He may not be polished and could be overpaid, but Perriman is worth a look. He’s the closest thing to a true discount version of Robby Anderson on the market. At just 26-years-old, Perriman could still be developing as a player.
The Jets need to take chances this offseason to build their wide receiver corps. There may not be a higher risk-reward player than Breshad Perriman.
Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans
Tajae Sharpe is a player who’s lost his place in Tennessee. After a decent rookie year in 2016, there were high expectations for Sharpe. That came crashing down when Sharpe missed all of 2017 with a foot injury.
He came back in 2018, but he wasn’t the same player after missing so much time. He put up awful numbers and eventually lost his starting job.
In 2019, he was basically completely replaced. A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries took on larger roles at receiver, leaving Sharpe as nothing more than a depth piece.
Despite the much-reduced role and the lack of a passing offense in Tennesse Sharpe outproduced his 2018 season. He had 25 receptions for 329 yards in 2019 which doesn’t look like a lot, but keep in mind the Titans offensive scheme.
Sharpe was often the fourth or fifth option on an offense that only threw the ball 20 times a game in 2019. The running game carried them to success, not the passing game, which limited Sharpe’s opportunities to shine.
Sharpe is a bet on projection. He’s finally healthy and he looks like the promising player the Titans thought they drafted. If the New York Jets are willing to take a bet on a nearly completely unproven player with a lot of upside, Tajae Sharpe should be their man.