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What To Do At The Trade Deadline?

Addition plus maybe subtraction for the Jets as the trade deadline approaches

NFL: New York Jets-Aaron Rodgers Press Conference Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets have been on their bye week this past week. Players have gotten some well-earned rest and relaxation, but the front office should have been working overtime as the trade deadline approaches. Many look at this as time to unload useless players or pick up a JAG for the bench, but real team-changing trades have been made at the trade deadline.

The Minnesota Vikings grabbed tight end TJ Hockenson and two 4th round picks from the rebuilding Detroit Lions for a 2nd and 3rd round pick.

Top quality tight ends are rare in the NFL and the Vikings nabbed Hockenson for a song compared to his value as a player. Oddly the Lions used those picks on tight end Sam LaPorta and safety Brian Branch, so it worked out for both teams.

Linebacker Roquan Smith went to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2nd and a 5th round pick.

Smith is a tackling machine and a leader on the defense. To secure his leadership skills along with his talent on the field was a bargain.

Running Back Christian McCaffrey went to the San Francisco 49ers for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks. McCaffrey is probably the best RB in the NFL with his ability in the running and passing game. He is tough and smart, he makes any team much better with him in the backfield.

These are just some of the trades that have made teams better in the past. Many times it’s the seller at the deadline that comes out on top by losing an overpaid veteran who would not be on the roster the following year. Every team must go through this every year. The NFL is always evolving as teams look to make their rosters better today and in the future.

How this affects the Jets

The Jets are in an enviable position of being possible buyers and sellers at the same time. The team has belief in their players and will look to fortify the roster for the coming weeks. Also they need to look to save capital when they can while at the same time bringing in players who could help this team.

Where do the Jets need help?

The obvious answer is the Jets need help along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

The Jets are extremely thin on the offensive line due to very poor drafting and the inability to find quality replacements. This team has been held back for the last few years by the offensive line. You would think when you are about to draft a possible franchise QB you would look to first secure the offensive line above all else. A quality offensive line and a solid running game are a young QB’s best friends. The Jets have not had that and it is because of the poor drafting of Joe Douglas in this area.

The problem is that every team is looking for some help on the offensive line. Most other NFL team offensive line needs are not as serious as the Jets needs, but teams are super reluctant to part with quality linemen unless they are trending downward or overpaid veterans who have a short time left in the NFL.

I mentioned a number of trades that have happened over the years, but trades for players are fairly rare in the NFL. I can put together a list of players who might be moved and how they could affect the Jets. Yet don’t get your hopes up. Trades happen when there are motivated buyers and sellers. I don’t know how motivated any teams are out there, especially the Jets, but we can window shop anyway.

Offensive Tackle Garrett Bolles

The offensive line name that has been mentioned as available is Garrett Bolles of the Denver Broncos. Garrett is tough for me since I railed against the Jets selecting him out of college as I didn’t like his skill set. My fears were proven correct as he struggled mightily his first few seasons in the NFL. Yet slowly he started to get better to the point he became an above average left tackle which is tough to find.

The problem is he is getting long in the tooth as a 31 year old who has had major injury problems in the past. Bolles broke his leg last year but has come back looking better than he did earlier in his career. He had a serious problem with holding calls previously but has seemed to put that behind him. Bolles has a $16 million non guaranteed contract for next year that the Jets would surely pick up if they traded for him.

I would be all over the Jets getting Bolles for the right price. The Jets hold a 4th round pick in 2024 sent to them from the Broncos in the Jake Martin trade so if they gave them back that pick plus a 4th in 2025 I would be all for it. That would move Mekhi Becton back to the right side and Max Mitchell to the bench. That should help quite q bit.

Wide Receiver Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy is an overrated talent who I missed on in the 2020 draft. I had him as a top ten player but he has never developed as a dynamic receiver. In 46 career games he has 9 TDs. He averages less than 4 receptions a game. He is owed a guaranteed $12,987,000 next year which is why the Broncos are looking to trade him. No thanks.

Wide Receiver Hunter Renfrow

Renfrow is the epitome of an NFL player in that he has talent, he can be a significant part of an offense or a useless cog if the team looks to change the offense. Here is a guy who is not even 28 years old who caught 103 passes on 128 targets in 2021 for 1,038 yards and 9 TDs, but he has fallen out of favor in Josh McDaniels’ offense. This year through 6 games Renfrow has 6 total receptions on 9 targets for 59 yards with zero TDs.

The Jets could probably get Renfrow for a 6th round pick, but the problem is he has a near $12 million contract for next year. Is he worth that? The answer is absolutely yes if you use him as an essential part of your offense. If not, the answer is an emphatic no.

The Jets could always redo the salary if Renfrow was willing. I think if Renfrow was an integral part of a Jets offense he would revise his contract in a heartbeat. The guy has talent and could be a steal if the Jets put him in a position as a viable first option. The Jets have Randall Cobb as the top slot receiver. Renfrow would be a huge improvement on that.

My take on this is a resounding yes if the Jets are committed to using the slot receiver as a viable option in the passing game. In certain situations Renfrow can be the primary option to move the chains or make a sizeable gain on first down. The Jets don’t have a true slot receiver right now as Cobb is way past his prime. A true slot receiver is nearly uncoverable at the snap. He is off the line, he can run slants, whips, drags and variations of all those routes. He can get open and get open quick for his QB.

This makes way too much sense to even consider. The Jets would never go for it.

Wide Receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.

Marshall is an LSU kid so you know he has immense talent. The problem is it doesn’t show on the field. He was a 2nd round pick for just that reason as he never lived up to the level of his superior athletic ability. He has played in 32 career games with 61 targets but has just a single TD to his name. The kid has superior talent, but he has played with some very poor QBs (Sam Darnold) over the years. Still, an alpha receiver should demand targets if he is open, but Marshall doesn’t demand that type of respect.

Bottom line, Marshall has great talent but as a player is he better than some of the Jet receivers like Brownlee or Charles or Gipson? I don’t think so. I love Marshall’s talent but I don’t see where he can be the player you want him to be. Not at the cost of a draft pick.

Wide Receiver K. J. Osborn

If the Vikings (who are looking to trade) want to put K. J. Osborn on the block then I am buying for the right price. Osborn is an underrated player who plays 2nd fiddle to Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings just drafted Jordan Addison in the first round for some reason when their defense is horrible. If the Vikings would take a 5th round pick I am a buyer. Osborn has 4.48/40 speed, which isn’t elite, but plenty fast enough if you have receiving skills. Osborn is in the final year of his rookie contract for a very affordable $2.75 million dollar contract. Osborn has been severely underused and could be a huge asset.

Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins took a while to find a new home this summer, then decided to move in with the Titans. That marriage has not worked out well as the Titan QB situation is a mess. Hopkins would probably like to go to a contender if possible. He is still a reliable receiver as he averages 1.95 yards per route run in 2023, which is just outside the top 20 in the league.

Where the difficulty might be is in the compensation. Hopkins is playing for a veteran minimum salary because the Titans paid him a $9.815 signing bonus. The Titans are going to want a premium pick (2nd or 3rd round) with that type of expenditure. In addition, I think it’s important for Garrett Wilson to become the loudest voice in the wide receiver room. He is a growing star so he can demand his receivers to work as hard as he does. Bringing Hopkins in may derail that possible growth in 2024.

Let’s look at players the Jets could trade

On the opposite side of the aisle the Jets could find some draft assets through trades that bring in draft picks. Players want to play so if you can find them a happy home while you revel in some draft pick euphoria then that’s okay.

Defensive End Carl Lawson

Lawson I mentioned as a trade candidate during training camp. I didn’t see where his snaps would come from when you have Jermaine Johnson, John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and Micheal Clemons in front of him. Carl Lawson has played a grand total of 73 snaps through 6 games. In those snaps he has a total of 1 solo tackle and 2 assisted tackles.

Lawson took a reduced salary to remain with the Jets, but Joe Douglas added 4 voidable years to the contract which cost the Jets until 2027. This was a foolish move when the Jets have all those players ahead of him on the team. Lawson’s lack of snaps while healthy shows how little use Lawson is to the Jets defense. This doesn’t mean he is worthless to another team in need of edge help. There a number of possible pass rushers available. Lawson may head the group since he would require the least amount of compensation.

If the Jets can get a 5th round pick for Lawson you take it and run away giddy.

Running Back Dalvin Cook

The Jets foolishly bought in Cook who is on the downside of his career. Cook is only 28 but he has certainly seen better days. I don’t see the explosion that I used to see from him. He was never super fast, but players like Cook have instant acceleration, it’s what makes them special. I don’t see that type of acceleration any more. Personally I see more upside from Israel Abanikanda than I do Cook. If the Jets could get a draft pick for Cook, even a 6th round pick, then this could be a case of addition by subtraction.

Tight End C. J. Uzomah

I could see the Jets trim the tight end ranks in an effort to get some of their young tight ends, of which they have three (Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah and Zack Kuntz) some quality playing time. Tyler Conklin is the leader and Uzomah is more of the blocking type.

Now I am not advocating this move as Uzomah seems like a quality teammate. Yet if you can get a late round pick while saving nearly $10 million in cap space it might be wise. Uzomah has only 4 receptions for 22 yards and a single TD. I don’t know what Joe Douglas has up his sleeve in terms of cap space for the future but an extra $10 million would probably come in handy.

These are some of the moves the Jets can make. You might have even more than the ones I outlined. In the end the Jets might just stand pat at the trade deadline, but you never know. What they do might be determined by how well they come out of the break. If the Jets blow away the Giants maybe Joe pushes his chips into the center of the table.

Whatever he does I hope it works.

What do you think?