The third of five fanposts about the Jets offseason plans. Today, we look at the wide receivers and tight ends.
What we have WRs (currently under contract or we hold exclusive rights):
Patrick Turner- cap value: $480k, $ saved if cut: $480k
Jerricho Cotchery- cap value: $3.791m, $ saved if cut: $458k
Logan Payne- cap value: $330k, $ saved if cut: $330k
Jeremy Kerley- unknown cap value. I will assume $500k
Scotty McKnight- unknown value. I will assume $350k
What we have TEs:
Dustin Keller- cap value: $1.7m, $ saved if cut: -$289k
Matthew Mulligan- cap value: $480k, $ saved if cut: $480k
Jeff Cumberland- cap value: $405k, $ saved if cut: $404k
This is ugly and a position of great need heading into the 2011 season. With stalwarts Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith on the open market, we have some holes to fill. It is unlikely we re-sign all three guys, but I think we should be in good shape to bring back 1-2 of them. In a perfect world, I’d bring back Smith and Holmes, but Holmes has already shown some aggravation over his use by Shottenheimer during the playoffs last year and may well test the open market. Edwards looks like the safest bet to be back (and already mentioned he’d take a hometown discount to return).
As for the guys we have under contract, we have limited talent outside of Jerricho Cotchery who is more of a #2 receiver or a slot than a true #1. Turner, Payne, Kerley and McKnight are all developmental prospects and should not start at this point in their careers. Turner has had some moments and is big and athletic (6’5” 225) so if he puts it all together, he could be pretty useful. Payne is an expert route runner that put up numbers in college at Minnesota but lacks elite athleticism to get open at this level. Kerley has the potential to be an interesting return man but is likely too small (5’9”) and too slow (4.59 forty at the combine) to be an every down receiving threat at this point. Scotty McKnight profiles similarly to Payne but is best friends with Sanchez so he might get the benefit of the doubt from the coaches. For what it’s worth, he was incredibly productive on a college offense that had very little talent outside of monster LT Nate Solder.
The TE position seems stable with Keller emerging as one of the better pass catching TEs in the game. Mulligan is a capable blocker and mauler and Jeff Cumberland is an athletic freak with a ton of upside. I think they are pretty set at the position though the team might examine looking for another blocking TE to challenge Mulligan for the #2 spot. Matt Spaeth?
I’d love to re-sign Smith, Holmes and Edwards, but don't think that’s realistic. In reality, I think we can keep one of Holmes or Edwards and maybe Smith. Between Holmes and Edwards, I’d obviously rather have Holmes but I think he’s upset at being misused by the coaching staff and will likely want out. Even if he stays, he will want big time money (I would guess north of Bernard Berrian’s contract with the Vikings at 6yrs $42m with $16m guaranteed). Edwards has been training at Jets West this offseason and seems like a good bet to return to the team. He provides deep threat which covers the running game and is a fantastic crackback blocker in the running game.
Again, I’d love to bring back Smith- but only at the right price- since he has so much value as an emergency QB, #3 WR, return man and special teams gunner. I think other teams will overvalue him though and pay him like a #1 or #2 type receiver which he is not. I would guess he gets offers comparable to Kevin Walter territory given Smith’s upside(Walter got 5yrs, $21m, $8m guaranteed). I see Braylon getting offers in the Deion Branch/ Nate Burleson range- Branch got 6yrs $39m with $13m guaranteed and Burleson got a ridiculous 5yrs $25m with $11m guaranteed. I think a five year $30-$35m deal with $10-12m guaranteed will lock up Edwards and that- shockingly- would likely represent good value for the dollar relative to the contracts Holmes and Smith will likely get on the open market.
The Chargers have major roster decisions to make with their top three guys up for contracts- Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, and Legadu Naanee. I think Naanee could be had for cheap given the bounty of WRs in the free agent market and his arrest in Feb 2011 for public intoxication. He’d be a good fit as a big receiver (6’2” 225) with speed and athleticism (4.41 forty, 4.20 short shuttle and 40 in vertical at the 2007 combine) and could replace Brad Smith on a lot of the offense’s trick play formations since he started his college career at Boise St as a QB (behind Jared Zabrinsky). The second guy I’d look at is super slot Danny Amendola. He is short, quick and has excellent hands- basically a poor mans Wes Welker (even followed in Welker’s footsteps at Texas Tech). He should be able to find openings in the seams and get a bunch of tough third down catches. I would guess we could sign Naanee and Amendola for a combined $4- $5m figure against the 2011 cap (~$2.5- $3m for Naanee and ~$2- $2.5m for Amendola). Essentially, my bet is that you can get BOTH Naanee and Amendola for what you would have paid for just Brad Smith. And you could get Edwards, Naanee and Amendola for what it would have cost to just get Holmes.
I like Matt Spaeth a lot as a potential #2 TE with good blocking, but don't want to pay the man. I think we’ll have to shell out big bucks to reload our linebacking corps and to shore up the safety position so would like to save money on backup TE if I can. In short, I would rather not spend on a blocking TE if I don't have to since we will have to unload to get ourselves a rush LB and starting FS (Hello Mattias Kiwinuka and Eric Weddle!).
I love Logan Payne and his hands/ route running but don’t think he has the athleticism to stick in the NFL. Moreover, the Scotty McKnight pick basically fills the same need for a developmental, good-route-running possession receiver. I don't think we save much money with the cut though. Speaking of McKnight, I just don't see him sticking on the active roster though he is a solid practice squad candidate.
WR1: Braylon Edwards- Like I said, I wish this was Holmes, but I am guessing Edwards is just so much easier/cheaper to resign. I don't think Braylon is a legit #1 receiver and more likely a 60 catch/ 900 yard, 7 TD kind of guy, but I think- like Hines Ward- he does a lot of other stuff to help the team win and adds a deep threat ability that Ward lacks.
WR2: Cotcherry- Solid, reliable, humble Cotcherry gets back into the starting lineup and provides the solid hands and route running to complement Edwards’ big play ability.
WR3: Legadu Naanee- Big, fast, strong and super athletic. Naanee gives us another deep threat to stretch the field and a utility belt like toolkit to run trick plays.
WR4: Danny Amendola- Wes Welker Jr. gets open in the middle of the field and makes the tough third down catches. Excellent hands and route runner, he can also help in the return game.
WR5: Patrick Turner- the developmental prospect could emerge as a legit threat in the NFL especially in the red zone. He has prototypical size (6’5” 225) and has shown flashes.
WR6: Kerley- I know the Jets invested a high pick in Jeremy Kerley, but I don't love the pickup. He’s a 5’9” 185lb receiver with 4.59 speed. I recognize that he has elite agility but he simply lacks the size and speed to stick around. Even Scotty McKnight ran a 4.49 forty. At the end of the day, Kerley stays on the roster because he was a 5th round pick.
TE1: Dustin Keller- One of the NFL’s most dynamic pass catching TEs, he has elite speed for the position and should be a cornerstone of the offense for a long time.
TE2: Mulligan- He gets in on running downs and acts like an extra lineman. Not much value in the passing game.
TE3: Cumberland- I think this kid has some upside and he impressed coaches last season. He sticks on the roster as a sophomore and begins to develop into a true multi threat tight end.
Practice squad- Scotty McKnight- he’s a solid developmental prospect who should be able to stick around the team for a year to see if he turns into anything.
2011 cap implications (assuming 2009 rules):
Braylon Edwards: $7m
Pat Turner: $480k
Dustin Keller: $1.7m
Total WR/TE cap hit: $19.055m
WR/TE as a % of total cap (using $128m, the cap figure in 2009, as a benchmark): 14.9%
Locking up 9 players for less than 15% of total projected cap space would be a nice little trick by Trader Mike. I think we lose a lot in not re-signing Holmes here and it pains me to watch him walk, but I’m afraid that he’ll simply be too expensive to keep around. I project his fair market value to be north of the Roy Williams 5yr $45m deal with the Cowboys a few years ago meaning Holmes would go for maybe 6yrs and $55-$60m and count about $9.5-$10m against the cap. While Holmes is a great player, I don't think he’s an elite level player that would be worthy of this type of contract and a $10m cap hit is preposterously high for a player that might touch the ball 100 times- or in other words nearly $10,000 per TOUCH- in an All-Pro season. Naanee and Amendola have a ton of talent, are still young enough to have upside, and cost 1/3rd of what it would cost to keep both Holmes and Brad Smith. Good investment. Maybe, I’m just trying to hard sell myself since I really did love having Holmes and Smith on the team… sigh.