Despite missing four games with a concussion and an elbow injury, Jeremy Kerley led the Jets with 43 catches for 523 yards. He rated 95th in the league in receptions and 86th in yardage. It was that kind of year for the passing game.
Kerley was a very important part of the offense, however. The three games he missed coincided with Geno Smith's worst stretch of football. It was a stretch where Geno went four straight games completing less than 10 passes. His little late season renaissance began when Kerley returned against Oakland. Kerley's presence made the passing game at least somewhat credible.
Kerley is not a game-breaking player. The Jets used him out of the slot over 70% of the time for a reason. He doesn't have great speed, and he is a small player. What he does have is a good initial burst and can make people miss once he has the ball in his hands. On a good passing offense, he probably would be a third option but a productive one. I have always thought he would get a ton of hype if he played in an offense like Green Bay extending drives with big third down catches and runs. With the Jets he was a reliable third down target.
Kerley comes with a few extras. As a high school quarterback, he has seen duty in Wildcat packages, although his only pass this year was incomplete. He also does return punts, albeit not effectively. The Jets finally seemed to end the experiment after Kerley set an NFL fair catch record in 2012. He has the skills to be a good returner, but his judgment on when to fair catch is suspect.
So Kerley is not an All Pro. Of the weapons the Jets have at running back, tight end, and wide receiver, however, I think there are only two guys who are part of the solution. Chris Ivory is one. Kerley is the other. He will only cost $1.4 million against the cap. His trade value is minimal. He is a quality receiver. For these reasons, he should be back. If the Jets could ever add some talent at the position, he would make a very nice complimentary piece. 2014 is the last year of his contract. I don't really see the need to extend him at this point. I always want to have flexibility and avoid committing to players if it can be avoided. Kerley probably isn't going to have a monster year and raise his price substantially. Receivers like Kerley tend to not be difficult to find. Since the Jets have him, they should ride with him out of the slot once again.