Once a week until the start of free agency, I will be examining the positions of need for the Jets and what available free agents the team should target.
I will begin with the free agent wide receivers for two reasons:
1. It’s topical. The Jets have officially committed to keeping Santonio Holmes on the team, in addition to signing WR Patrick Turner to a one-year deal. (Plus, everyone is tweeting about like crazy).
2. I am prepping for a Fantasy Football chat I’m doing next week and I had to take a look at these guys anyway. Just being honest.
Let me be upfront about one thing before we proceed. It’s very easy to get caught up in dreaming about some of these guys coming to New York but the harsh reality is that the Jets don’t have a ton of cap room to spend (somewhere just north of $10 mill, without cuts, extensions or restructuring). Most of these guys are completely out of the team’s price range (based on the estimates I have seen) and since WR isn’t the only need (in fact, it’s not even close to the top need), the limited money must be spent wisely.
That said, let’s take a look at the top free agent wide receivers that will hit the market and the likelihood they end up in green.
It’s Not Gonna Happen
Wes Welker – Patriots are expected to franchise Welker, per Greg Bedard. It’s not even worth talking about.
Vincent Jackson – There was some question about whether or not Jackson would be available as a free agent but according to Kevin Acee of the Union Tribune, the Chargers are planning to release the wide receiver.
Jackson had been asking for $10plus million before being franchised last season, a price the Chargers could not afford . The 2012 WR franchise tag, which comes in at $9.4 mill, is still too steep, especially because Jackson will receive a bump on the franchise salary being that it would be his second successive season with the tag (as I understand it).
I guess all of that doesn’t really matter, because Jackson will be looking for a big pay day elsewhere. I also believe he will be seeking a nice, sunny and warm location (he likes to surf).
The Jets cannot offer either.
Dwayne Bowe – I foresee the Chiefs franchising Bowe. Without him, they are missing a major offensive playmaker and one of the team’s most identifiable stars.
Brandon Llyod – I’m willing to bet a pile of money this guy ends up in New England. He knows McDaniels’ system and Joshy loves the guy.
Lloyd himself even told the media he all but plans to end up working with McDaniels (he may or may not have been joking). And if that wasn’t enough, this moves makes sense for both the wide receiver and the team hat McDaniel ultimately ended up with (because Deion Branch is a FA).
I would also imagine that the Rams will make a bid to keep Lloyd with Sam Bradford.
Marques Colston - If the Saints use their franchise tag on Drew Brees, Colston and Meecham will both be out in the open market. Of the two, Coltson will be the more coveted and will command the higher price tag. I’m guessing the Saints will make a good bid to get him back but it will cost whatever team he ends up with a good chunk of change to land him.
Stevie Johnson - Johnson is a play maker and even thought he acts like a stupid dumb-head a lot the time, there are many teams that would bend over backwards to get this guy on their team.
Word is that Johnson and the Bills are very far apart on a deal, but that doesn’t mean that the Bills are above slapping him with a francise tag.
Johnson obviously wants a huge paycheck (supposedly around $7.5 mill) and the Jets simply can’t give it to him. I see him either staying in Buffalo or heading to San Diego or New Orleans.
Jordy Nelson - Keep dreaming.
Mike Wallace (RFA) – Nope.
Hmm, Maybe? But Probably Not
DeSean Jackson – Jackson is extremely talented and his youth, speed and upside are attractive for any team. But his attitude would just be a nightmare for the Jets, especially opposite Santonio Holmes. We would need a full time babysitter.
Early reports indicate the Eagles will franchise Jackson, which would also make him unavailable.
Lastly, Jackson’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus and I don’t like that guy.
Reggie Wayne - Wayne is getting up there and age and will be looking for a big pay day. Wayne still has a lot to offer but the Jets likely can’t afford him.
Mario Manningham – The Giants have a big decision to make about Manningham. Though he played a pivitol role in the Super Bowl victory, the word on the street is that the Giants are not comfortable paying a #3 receiver the kind of money Manningham desires. (The emergence of Victor Cruze has further complicated matters because the Giants can let Manningham and still feel comfortable with the talent that remains).
Many teams will be targeting Mario Manningham as a number #1 receiver and looking to pay him as such. The Redskins have emerged as an early favorite.
Mannigham is also working with Rosenhaus. Ho hum.
The More Likely
Colts WR Pierre Garcon
Laurent Robinson – Robinson has stated publicly he would like to remain in Dallas, but after his breakout season he could command a nice salary that frankly, the Cowboys may not be able to afford.
I love this guy’s talent and I think he could be a fantastic addition to the offense in addition to part of a longer term solution.
Pierre Garcon – The Colts have THREE free agent wide receivers they are going to have to deal with this off-season (Garcon, Wayne, Gonzalez) and not all of them are going to be able to stay in Indy. Garcon is still young (25) and fast.
Jerome Simpson- Love this guy’s talent, but do we really need two guys with marijuana charges on the same team? Trrouubble.
Simpson would definitely be affordable and has right size and speed, but it’s simply a risk the team cannot take given his legal troubles.
Robert Meachem - It’s highly unlikely the Saints are going to be able to keep both Colston and Meecham, and it would imagine it Meachem will become the off man out.
Meachem is the most ideal fit (with his size and skills) for a complimentary role in the Jets offense and for a far more affordable than some of the high-profile guys.
Braylon Edwards – The reason that Braylon is such an attractive option boils down to two things. 1. Prior experience on team 2. The price is right.
I’m not saying this the best option, but it is a realistic one.
Steve Smith – I have a funny feeling he ends up back with the Giants.
Plaxico Burress – He’s not coming back to NY. Yeah, yeah — Tell me something I don’t know, Kristine.
There’s also that whole Philly rumor thing.
Jerricho Cotchery - I bet the Steelers try to get him back. Things worked out well for him in Pittsburgh and with Hines Ward supposed release (or retirement), the Steelers could certainly use him.
Complete list of 2012 FA Wide Receivers.