Josh Cribbs Visits the Jets

Although his agents might have been unofficially meeting with teams back at the Combine, former Brown wide receiver and return specialist Josh Cribbs has had a hard time catching on with a new NFL team because of offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  Cribbs, who will turn 30 in June, is now healthy and has started a tour visiting a number of NFL teams.

jcribbsOn Monday, Cribbs visited with the Raiders, where he apparently left with a contract offer, but was going to continue with his visits before making any decisions.  After the Raiders, Cribbs flew east and landed in the New York area Tuesday night to visit with the Jets on Wednesday.  There was no formal offer, but according to the Manish Mehta of the Daily News, “parameters” of the deal were discussed.

Already in the area from his meeting with the Jets, the latest news is that the Giants will meet with Cribbs today, and that there might be at least one other team interested in hiring him.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Cribbs has never had more than 41 catches in a season, but he’s a versatile player and can be used in a number of ways.  Here’s our impressions of Cribbs and how he might fit into the Jets current picture.

Offense:
Cribbs was most often used in the “Z” receiver spot.  Cribbs has been used in an (EARMUFFS!) Wildcat role and has demonstrated the ability to run the ball on option plays out of the backfield as well.  He’s not the best route-runner and doesn’t have the best speed out of his cuts, but his strength and frame allow him to excel in comeback routes to block out defenders.

Special Teams:
Cribbs is most known for his return skills, but he is also one of the league’s best in coverage.  Cribbs doesn’t have elite speed, but his field vision is impeccable and he knows where lanes will form, how to take angles to avoid tackles, but then also to use his size and body control to break tackles through force or perfectly timed spin moves.  Cribbs was one of the league’s best returners in 2012 with a 27.4 average on kick returns (fourth best in the NFL) and 12 yards (sixth) per punt return .

Overall:
Holmes’ Lisfranc recovery and Hill’s 2012 struggles would lead one to believe that Cribbs role could be determined in camp per John Idzik’s new “competetion” mantra.  At worst, he’d be the team’s fourth receiver, but likely could see time as the team’s third, or even reaching a bit, the second all depending on the play of others.   My guess is that he’d be the team’s fourth option for much of the season.

On special teams, his role would be unquestioned as the team’s new returner on punts and possibly kicks as well.  As noted above, he’d also play an integral role in coverage and with a lot of uncertainty in the wide receiver position, adding a player like Cribbs would shore up special teams, add depth to the wide receiver spot and potentially help consolidate some other roster spots.

What does that mean?  Interest in a player with Cribbs’ skillset would indicate more trouble for Joe McKnight.  McKnight is out to win the starting running back job, but with two new backs on the roster and much of his utility on the roster due to his kick return skills, this seems like a move that, assuming the Jets can actually sign Cribbs, might help them consolidate their roster and swing the production to an area of roster weakness on the Jets right now, their wide receivers.

Likelihood:
The Raiders have a contract, the Giants are recent world champions and have an excellent quarterback and sincere need to upgrade their return game, and then there’s one other team in play Cribbs might visit soon.  If I had to guess, it’s the Patriots.   All that to me lines up to indicate that the Jets are not in a position of power competing against other teams right now to sign Cribbs.  Maybe we’ll be surprised, but I’d expect Cribbs to land elsewhere first.