These are the top stories any given day if you look up the Jets. Who's the right tackle? Who's playing safety? Who will be the new pass rusher? Always those 3 questions. And sometimes there's the "Is Mark Sanchez any good" story. I'm just wondering why does no one ever ask about the wide receiver situation?
There is a wide open starting position at wide receiver, unless you think Plexico Buress gets re-signed. I am not of the opinion that he will. He's slow, he's old, and at this point he's just a red zone threat. There was a little talk of getting Braylon Edwards back because of the chemistry between he and Sanchez. And because he might come over cheap because it's New York, he's been here, he likes it, he had a bad year last season, and he got hurt which all bring down his salary to what I would guess the Jets can afford.
Even though I'm still in the Braylon Edwards camp, I'm still doubting they resign the guy. They had the opportunity to and passed last year. Instead, they should make a run for Reggie Wayne of the Colts. He's the biggest off season move. Not a safety, linebacker, or offensive lineman. Here's why.
The Colts big story is Peyton Manning, but if he leaves, they are in a complete rebuilding mode. Reggie is 33 years old, and the Colts have Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark to catch passes from Luck. They're rumored to not want to pay for an older player like Wayne if Manning is not there either.
The free agency list for wide receivers is deep. So deep that Reggie might get left out in the cold. In most circles it's Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Desean Jackson, Wes Welker, Marques Colston, Stevie Johnson, Mike Wallace, and Reggie Wayne. That's not including guys like Jerome Simpson and Mario Manningham. He might be a little higher or lower on the list depending on who you ask, but because of his age, and all the other players being in their prime, he's around the 7th or 8th rated wide receiver. He's not gonna get the big long term deal, and might get passed over for someone that can play the extent of a 5 year deal. Make no mistake though, he is not done. This is isn't Tory Holt in a Jaguars uniform, or Chris Carter in a Miami Dolphins jersey.
This is what you get with a Reggie Wayne. This guy has caught for a 1000 yards every year since 2003. That's 9 straight seasons. I'm including this past season in 2011 where he caught passes for 950 yards, because he had Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter throwing to him. Even if you don't count that, that's 8 years of 1,000 yards and 80 catches or so. He did better than Holmes or Burress last year with a QB that should be in the arena league.
These are his positives. He runs excellent routes. He has great hands. He is a known perfectionist and workaholic, as well as a professional. You've never heard of Reggie Wayne being in trouble for drugs, fighting, or anything else. He's a leader, and he took all the young Colts receivers under his wing. He has a decade of playing with the best QB in football in Peyton Manning. He's one of those first guys in the building and last guys out.
Negatives. None. Maybe I'm being biased, but I like the guy. He hasn't really lost a step and he was always more quick than fast. He's 6' so he's not a tall red zone threat if you want to call that a negative.
Now let's sum this up. Mark Sanchez is not exceptionally accurate all the time. Burress couldn't get seperation, which combined with Sanchez inaccuracy made it difficult to complete even 50% of passes thrown to him. But Wayne runs the best routes in football which gets him seperation without needing deep speed. His route running, and hands are what the Jets need opposite Santonio Holmes. Wayne can be the sure handed 100 catch guy while Holmes can be used like he's supposed to, and that's as a playmaker. While Burress was only effective in the redzone for the most part, Wayne is a guy that is the exact opposite. He is good between the 20's and can keep the chains moving. The Jets don't need to rely on one guy as a tall red zone target because they still have Keller, Cumberland, Turner, and Holmes that can all get it done in the red zone in a variety of different ways.
Last but not least is this. The Jets are sorely lacking for leaders. Wayne is a leader. He can set the standard for all the receivers, and make sure Tone doesn't get out of line again. Classic lead by example guy. He can be a good influence on Sanchez as well, and drop jewels in his ear, any QB/receiver habits he has gotten from years of working with Manning. He has no ego like Holmes. He didn't complain when the Colts began utilizing Pierre Garcon more, and he didn't quit or complain when the Colts floundered to 2-14. By comparison Santonio Holmes was complaining and skipping meetings on a Jets team that was still in the playoff hunt week 17. Reggie Wayne at the same time started every game, caught 75 passes for 960 yards and 4 TD's, and never once do I remember hearing hearing him say anything negative about Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky. Can you imagine how much better Kerley, Turner, and even Keller and Cumberland could be with a real leader heading up their meetings, practices, and watching film?
I hope to see the Jets reach out to him in free agency, at least just to put a feeler out there. I'm fairly sure the second Manning goes to another team, the Colts will cut ties with Wayne as they go into a full rebuilding mode. I don't know what the market will be for him, but if he is closer to being the 7th option for teams looking for a wide receiver, the Jets may able to get him for a steal. I don't see many big time contracts going to 33 year old wide receivers. Here's to hoping he is the bargain steal of the off season. We've even got an 87 waiting for you buddy.