The Oakland Raiders have cut running back Roy Helu. Should the Jets be interested?
The Jets currently have a banged up backfield. Khiry Robinson is still recovering from last year's injury and may not be ready to start the season. Matt Forte is day to day with some minor injuries. Zac Stacy failed his physical and was replaced on the roster by recently signed running back Bernard Pierce, who will miss the first two games of the 2016 season as he serves a disciplinary suspension. Does Roy Helu make sense for the Jets?
Roy Helu is a 27 year old, 6' 0", 216 pound running back originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. Helu has nice size for an NFL back, but he will frustrate you at times with his lack of physicality. Chris Ivory he ain't. Helu has outstanding speed, having clocked a 4.4 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. Where Helu really shines is in the passing game.
In five NFL seasons Helu has never carved out much of a role as a runner, with a career total of 1171 yards on 272 carries for a 4.3 yard average. His best work has come as a receiver out of the backfield. Helu has amassed 1227 receiving yards on 138 receptions for an excellent 8.9 yard average. Helu has caught an outstanding 80.7% of his 171 targets in his career. Helu's best year came in his rookie campaign of 2011, when he amassed more than 1000 all purpose yards from scrimmage.
Roy Helu is not an outstanding running back. With his size he looks like he should break a lot more tackles than he does. But Roy Helu has carved out a nice NFL niche as a fairly dangerous receiver out of the backfield. His hands are quite good and his speed is excellent. He will never be a bellcow back. But he has been in every significant aspect of the game a better back than Bernard Pierce. Helu outruns Pierce, 4.3 yards per carry compared to 3.7. Helu is far superior in the passing game, averaging 8.9 yards per catch compared to 5.3 for Pierce and catching 80.7% of his targets compared to 68.1% for Pierce. Helu also has had more value on special teams, having amassed 9 tackles compared to Pierce's 2, and returning 4 kickoffs for 85 yards compared to zero career returns for Pierce.
Nobody will ever confuse Roy Helu for a superstar. He is a rotational back, a competent if not dynamic runner, and a weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. That may not be sexy, but it is better in every aspect of the game than what Pierce has brought to the table. Helu's proficiency in the passing game would also seem to fit better what offensive coordinator Chan Gailey wants to do on offense.
I think bringing in Roy Helu makes a lot of sense for the Jets, whether as another body to compete with Pierce for a possible roster spot in the backfield or as a direct replacement for Pierce. The Jets would have to cut Pierce or some other camp body to make room on the roster. What do you think? Did I have you at Helu?