The Jets have made some interesting moves so far this offseason. Remaking the wide receiver room also may not be done if the Odell Beckham Jr. rumors continue to gain steam. But as has been the case for what feels like years now, everything involving Gang Green revolves around their pending trade to acquire quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
When will the trade become official? Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. We know Rodgers wants to play for the Jets. Now, the wait is just because the Jets and Green Bay Packers need to agree to a compensation package.
Something that may play a role in that eventual deal is New York’s recent trade of Elijah Moore. General manager Joe Douglas sent their wideout and the 74th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns for the 42nd overall pick. So, the Jets now own the 13th, 42nd, and 43rd picks in next month’s draft.
How does Moore getting traded to Cleveland impact both that and Rodgers, though? NBC Sports’ Peter King broke it down in his latest Football Morning in America column:
I think the Jets’ 2021 draft is looking pretty grim after the trade of wide receiver Elijah Moore to the Browns Wednesday. (Moore plus the 74th overall pick to Cleveland for the 42nd) The Jets had three picks in the top 100 in 2021: quarterback Zach Wilson (second overall), guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (14th overall), and Moore (34th overall). Wilson’s rep has been severely tarnished through two seasons. Vera-Tucker’s a plus-player but missed the last three months last season with a torn triceps. Now Moore’s gone. This trade means three things:
The Jets found Moore an underachieving pain in the rear end, and you have to wonder what didn’t show up in the scouting process about Moore the person or Moore’s character. You could say, Douglas did a good job, getting the 42nd pick for him, but I’d say a couple of things about that. Dumping the 32nd pick of 2021, with 4.35 speed, after two lousy seasons is bad business. And Douglas didn’t pick up an extra pick here—he moved up 32 spots. Valuable spots, of course. But early third-round picks are valuable, and the Jets are without theirs now.
The Jets now hold the 42nd and 43rd picks, one of which is likely to be used in the trade for Aaron Rodgers. Say that happens. Say the 42nd pick goes to Green Bay. Then the Jets pick, overall, 13th and 43rd … and then not again till midway through the fourth round, 112th.
Mecole Hardman replaces the speed and, the Jets hope, the deep-threat possibility that Moore never was. Hardman still has the chance to show that explosiveness. But Hardman, over 25 games in the past two years, caught balls for 990 yards and 11.8 yards per reception. Not surprising Kansas City let him walk. There’s one other part of this story that means something: Moore was on the cap this year for $1.47 million. Hardman signed for one year with a max deal of $6.5 million. Let’s say he actually sees $5 million of it. The Jets have added a speed guy Kansas City let walk after an injury-plagued season but have surrendered the advantage of a comfortable rookie contract, and Hardman will eat up perhaps $3-million-to-$4-million more for a parallel player. All in all, it’s a shaky deal.
Maybe trading away Moore wasn’t the best move. But then again, if he wasn’t happy and was low on the WR totem pole for eventual targets, it’s probably better to send him packing to a new team. If the pick they receive in return is part of what brings Rodgers to New York, it’s a worthwhile gamble.
Then again, with such a potential gap in picks next month, they better hope all of this maneuvering to upgrade the quarterback position is what truly gets them over the hump and back in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in 2023.
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You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.