Free Agency Focus: Ranking the best values at receiver

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next few days, we’ll be revisiting a few key positions in which the Jets might invest during the free agency period.  Here’s a look at the players who the Jets might be interested in with the initial period of free agency beginning Saturday morning.

Below are our non-scientific rankings of players we think can come to the Jets and most impact the team per dollar spent.  Consider them a “bang for the buck” type ranking system.

NFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos1) Eric Decker (DEN) — Considered the top option in free agency, Decker will likely command close to eight figures annually.  Decker knows that playing with Peyton Manning has provided him more targets and opportunities, but also knows he was productive with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton.  Decker might not be among talents like Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant, but he seems a safe investment assuming he isn’t asked to tilt the field on every play.  It makes sense that Decker would return to Denver, but plenty of teams will express interest.  The Colts have been closely tied and the Jets have been considered a possible contender.  With as much cap room as the Jets have, they could easily sign Decker and still sign another cheap option or draft another receiver to complement the existing crop of Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson — thereby quickly giving Decker enough room to breathe in the offense.

2) Golden Tate (SEA) — Tate isn’t the most talented or historically productive receiver in this class, but he has played in a run-heavy offense and has demonstrated an himself as an extremely aggressive receiver willing to play the possession role when necessary.  With the ball in his hands he has been as tough a receiver as there is in the league and he would add a possession receiver element that the Jets have been lacking.  Signing Tate would still leave the Jets plenty of other avenues to address the receiver position through free agency, let alone the draft.

3) James Jones (GB) — Earlier in his career, Jones suffered from drops, but has seemed to move past that at this stage of his career.  At his age Jones could start to decline, but he is extremely smart, very tough and can still make plays after the catch.  Jones should be a bargain player on the market and could be a mid-term plug and play option for the Jets.

4) Andre Roberts (ARI) — Roberts won’t set the league ablaze wherever he goes next, but he was productive (759 yards) with the Cardinals last season.  At just 24 years of age, it’s hard not to think that if put in the right offense Roberts could become a productive part of a larger puzzle.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets5) Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) — Sanders won’t return to Pittsburgh as the Steelers look for taller receivers to fill their offense out for 2014.  The Jets are said to have expressed some interest in Sanders, who isn’t the quickest receiver but who seems to have a knack to get lost deep amongst other options.  This of course helps Sanders stretch the field, but even with Big Ben — who is known to extend plays — his production seems sporadic.  Beyond his downfield play, Sanders hasn’t demonstrated that he can be counted on for much more.

6) Hakeem Nicks (NYG) —  Nicks was a huge part of the Giants Super Bowl XLVI season, but has since disappeared into the Giants offense.  Nicks is an extremely talented player, but injuries to his legs have sidelined him and dramatically lowered his production over the last two years.  He’s a short-term option and any production should be considered “found.”

7) Julian Edelman (NE) — Edelman is somewhat underrated as a player, but it is understandable considering his injury history and his inflated numbers thanks to being the last man standing on the Patriots offense.  Edelman could have a role on an NFL offense, but paying him based on his 2013 production would we unwise and the Jets already have a very competent albeit sometimes injured slot receiver in Jeremy Kerley.

8) Ted Ginn (CAR) — Ginn thrived in Carolina playing with the strong-armed Cam Newton.  While Ginn was a featured player in a WR needy offense, he only tallied 36 catches on 68 targets for 556 yards and five touchdowns.  Ginn still can play well on special teams and while there’s a place for him in the NFL, it might not be with the Jets.




82 comments
marcus81
marcus81

Tate is the best guy on that list for the Jets, and maybe he won't break the bank

blackwood1
blackwood1

Jones is really the best WR for the money IMO, & while im not anti tate I don't see any reason to break the bank for him. Somebody who could be a 1 year reclamation project is Kenny Britt if he is all the way back from his knee issue. Same with Nicks 1 yr earn it contract but if we walked away with Jones & Roberts I would be happy.


I am not a fan of spending every dime of the cap space this off season just because we have it. Next season also has many interesting FA's as well so unless its a cant miss guy im cool with a gradual build. So give me Jones, Roberts & a 1 yr reclamation in either Nicks or Britt & then move on in to fixing some defensive holes like Edge rusher CB & safety. Remember at some point we will need to sign our own talent in order to keep them & that takes cap space.

SackDance99
SackDance99

Please, no Nicks.  Last season, he was targeted 101 times and only had 56 receptions for a 55.4% catch rate, with only 37.6% of his catches going for 1st downs, an amazing stat considering his yards per catch was at 16.0.  By way of contrast, Decker had 87 receptions out of 136 targets, for a healthy 64% catch rate and 46.3% of his catches were for 1st downs.


Also, Golden Tate had 64 receptions in 98 targets, for a 65.3% catch rate and 41.8% of his catches were for 1st downs.  And, while I'm not an Edelman fan, his 105 catches in 151 targets for a 69.5% catch rate is outstanding, even if his 1st down rate was only 35.8%.

gt73
gt73

If for no other reason than I'd like to see them make the Pats ratchet up their payroll, I wouldn't mind seeing the Jets make a play for Edelman.

lagoo
lagoo

I wouldn't mind getting decker unless he wants big time money. Still had 612 yards and 8 Tds when his qb was a fullback

jimjets
jimjets

well said Jetdee...I'm down with that. 


Nicks at an incentive laden deal. But really, at this point there are so many quality reciever that are shaking loose or already loose...to me it almost doesnt matter which one, you know? I say get one "sure thing" if such a thing exists, take a flyer on a guy like nicks or sydney rice and/or jason avant and draft either the best reciever or TE with the 18th pick. Bring in a  bunch of guys, let 'em fight it out and see who wants to play like a jet.

jetdee
jetdee

If we sign Nicks and draft Lee, our receiving core problems would be solved. I know people are down on nicks and lee but having nicks as our deep threat and lee working the underneath routes with Kerley in the slot would be a thing of beauty to me.

Brad Jerris
Brad Jerris

The sad thing is, whatever the Jets do, Has to be an upgrade over the weapons they had Last year.

Brad Jerris
Brad Jerris

Considering the two top Available WR prospects at 18 will probably be Cooks and Beckham, smaller guys, it would be great to pair one of them with a taller player like Decker.

t__k
t__k

Out of that list I probably take Hakeem Nicks and I can't stand the guy.  I think if you're looking for a true #1, he's the only one on that list that fits the bill.  Decker you could argue, but Nicks, IMO, is the only #1 on that list.

What type of contract do you guys think he'll command?

Brendan
Brendan

@SackDance99  I would take Nicks over Decker 9 times out of 10, and that 1 out of 10 would only be after sitting in a room with you with nothing to talk about besides Decker, haha. 


I just think Nicks was insulted by the Gmen, who gave his partner in crime a huge extension and then played hardball with him. Putting on Nicks' skin for a minute, I wouldn't have reacted the way he did, but you can't blame a guy for growing disinterested with a team that was losing and was clearly looking to replace him. 


On pure talent, Nicks > Decker. Unfortunately, it's all the areas besides talent that concern most fans about Nicks. If Decker is looking for $10 million a year, he can take a hike. 

MarshRandy
MarshRandy

@gt73  I think Andre Roberts could do more damage than Edelman in that offense 

phily kay
phily kay

@jetdee  I think it has that potential. but nicks injury history and lee's injury history make this not even close to a sure thing

rock316nyj
rock316nyj

@Brad Jerris Based on the money Decker would command, combined with his production from Manning in Denver helping his stats, you don't think the better combination would be Golden Tate at lesser dollars and drafting the 6'5 Kelvin Benjamin at 18?

Brad Jerris
Brad Jerris

@t__k  

I think he was hoping for 8-10mil/ yr, but he is probably going to get a reality check and only get 4-6mil/yr

Brendan
Brendan

@t__k  


(coming up with random offseasons in my head)


I'd sign Nicks and Jones, keep Kerley and Hill, re-sign Nelson and draft a guy. That seems like a unit with the potential to be elite at WR in a year or two. 

jetdee
jetdee

@phily kay I think both their injury concerns have been over blown, the most games nicks has missed in a season are 3 games and this past year was the only season lee was really affected by injury. That being said I would draft another receiver in the third round like a jarvis Landry or moncrief if either are available, or even in the second round if one of the fringe first round guys are available.

t__k
t__k

Nicks for 4 I would do.

t__k
t__k

@Brendan @t__k That's a solid group.  Real solid.  You're not big on Cooks, right?  I think him or ODB would fit well in that group.  Ebron would be nice there too.

Bytor
Bytor

@Brendan @t__k  Ooh why not Nicks and Tate for $12-14M? Nicks, Tate, Kerley, Hill, Nelson, draft pick sounds pretty ok to me. Kerley's a fa soon so we'd be pretty covered if he's too expensive. *ducks* 

phily kay
phily kay

@jetdee  yes, but look at santonio. he was a healthy receiver until last season and because of that he was hampered all of this year too. Don't get me wrong, I love nicks and think he has tremendous value (more than maclin) but he's no sure thing. Lee worries me also for this reason, and his combine left a lot to be desired. I dont think Lee is going to be worth a #1 pick if he doesnt run in the 4.4's at his pro day. I think Cooks would be a better option than Lee because both his tape and workouts are great, and theyre consistent. I do believe Tate should be our #1 WR target in FA and would love to see Nicks on a short incentive deal. I also wouldnt mind Roberts or Simpson. I also think we should take a guy like Niklaus in 2nd or 3rd rd (if available) if we go WR in 1st

harold
harold

Maclin just got 5.5 coming off injury.  Think 6-7 APY for Nicks (maybe more).  But we have to be realistic the guy was one of the top 8 WR in the NFL just two season ago.  So you get what you pay for.

Brendan
Brendan

@t__k I'm not, but I know other people are. But with that group you could pick any type of WR and he'd fit in, because you have all your bases covered already. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se 


Not true, we've had countless normal discussions. I get annoyed when you speak as if your opinion is fact ("Idzik won't sign Nicks"). 


Can you please answer my questions? And if you're feeling saucy, feel free to reply to my comment in Geno's thread. 

a57se
a57se

@harold  

Yeah Nicks is such a peach the Giants didn't even bother trying to re-sign him......I am sure Eli is losing sleep knowing nicks will be gone.

harold
harold

@a57se @Brendan

Nicks has no off field issues.  He is a player who after 2012 was expected to be in the 9 million APY range.  We may get him for 6 to 7 APY.  He just turned 26 in Jan.  So you have a young established playmaker.

I think it is more likely we go after Tate and Ginn or Jones than Nicks.  But I would prefer Nicks 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Show your work, 57. You're speaking authoritatively again, and that's when people get annoyed. 


1- Why wouldn't Idzik sign Nicks? 


2- Who was rejoicing? 


3- Why do you refuse to acknowledge that Jones is one of the most consistently good WR's in the NFL

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

What is so realistic about this scenario?

Idzik will not sign nicks......

Jones maybe, but that is not something to go home rejoicing with.he is not getting this team over the hump, just a stop gap.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Do you have anything of value to add? 


I know you dismiss Jones (which is laughable) and think Nicks is a no-good jerkface who can never be worth signing, but these are the types of realistic scenarios worth discussing. Not "how many elite WR's can we sign!" or "how many top draft picks will we use on WR's? all three of them!?" 

Bytor
Bytor

@a57se @Brendan @t__k  How do you like the smell of Nicks/Tate/Kerley? Or after next year, Nicks/Tate/OBJ?

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan 


Just to pick up on something you said above, they don't need to re-sign Nelson - he's under contract anyway.

Bytor
Bytor

@Brendan @Bytor  Yep, I'm in the let's get younger camp even though I like Colon. For long term line continuity I think Asamoah is a smart signing.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bytor I think Colon is the fallback option right now. He wants to be back and is coming back from injury. I assume the team is checking in with him periodically to check his progress. 


Personally? I'd be fine with keeping him at a bargain price, but I understand people's desire to upgrade to a younger player. 

Bytor
Bytor

@Brendan @Bytor  Then they'd have to be a bit more choosy. Maybe Colon comes back again instead of signing Asamoah if they're comfy with the other 47 olinemen we have as depth.

Brendan
Brendan

@harold  Certainly a tougher call with that number, but I would be cautiously optimistic if those moves were made. That's a very talented duo. 

Bytor
Bytor

@harold  In my above FA wish list, that gets us to $40MM. I would imaging Idzik would structure contracts in a way he can sign all the sons in the next few years.


If we draft well, we'd be replacing guys like Harris, Pace, Browner, Reed etc in the near future. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Bytor Pace is hopefully going to be lower than that. Browner might cost more. Howard is likely going to cost closer to $7. I'd love if the team god Reed to take a minimum-level deal (if anyone can do it, it's "Uncle Rex"). 

harold
harold

@Brendan

Nicks will probably get closer to 7 million APY.

Brendan, think more like 14 million for a Nicks Tate duo.

Do you still sign up with 50 plus million in cap space after cuts and or restructuring. 

Bytor
Bytor

@t__k  I just think we can draft a rb. 

Bytor
Bytor

@Brendan @Bytor  I'll take a stab for kicks:

Howard-$5

Folk-$3

Reed-$2

Tate-$7

Nicks-$6

Asamoah-$4

Browner-$4

Backup qb-$3

Pace-$2

Lankster and misc.-$3


Total - $39M


Thoughts?

phily kay
phily kay

@t__k  dont think he brings nearly enough value as a receiver, which is what we need to complement ivory. 

Brendan
Brendan

@t__k  I think between the stable the team has and Tate's asking price, plus there being a lot of guys in this draft, that people kind of wrote him off as being not worth the money. I like him as a player, but I tend to agree there's no point in signing a FA RB if he wants to get paid. 

t__k
t__k

@Bytor @Brendan speaking of Tate's....I never hear the name Ben Tate mentioned here.  Anyone have any interest in that guy?  I always thought he had potential but he was stuck behind Foster and had some injuries.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bytor Without getting into per-player pricing (about to run to a meeting), I think that's do-able. 

Bytor
Bytor

@Brendan @Bytor  I know I know, I love the dude too. I just took off my hyper-emotional green hat off and thought like a cold, soul-less gm for a smidge. 


Ok back to the warm side, we have to spend some money, yes? Here's my wish list that I'll let you pros figure out how much they'll all cost:


Howard, Folk, Reed, Tate, Nicks, Asamoah, Browner, Backup qb, Lankster and co.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bytor Oh don't go there with Kerls, I love that dude. 


I just don't know what Nicks will come in at, so I put Jones in there. I'd be pretty happy with a Nicks/Tate duo for $12 million, though.