Fourth in a series analyzing the New York Jets.
The Jets entered this offseason with two main goals — find protectors and playmakers for Sam Darnold.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas addressed wide receiver in both free agency and the draft, hoping to give his third-year quarterback improved targets in 2020. The biggest additions are Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims. The biggest subtraction is Robby Anderson, who left in free agency for the Panthers.
Perriman and Mims are both speedsters who arrive with questions about their route running and ability to be a complete receiver. Those are basically the same questions that people had about Anderson during his four years with the Jets.
It was a bit of a surprise the Jets let Anderson walk after he showed chemistry with Darnold late last season, when he finished with 52 catches for 779 yards and five touchdowns. The Panthers gave him a two-year, $20 million deal with $12 million in Year 1. That is not an unreasonable contract, but the Jets let him leave.
Just hours after Anderson agreed to a deal with Carolina, the Jets jumped on Perriman. A 2015 first-round pick of the Ravens, Perriman has been a disappointment for most of his career. But he came on strong at the end of last season for the Buccaneers and the Jets are hoping that was him starting to realize his potential. He had 25 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns in Tampa’s final five games.
“I’m excited to see what he can do in this offense,” Jets coach Adam Gase said Monday. “His skill set fits in well with what we do. We feel like he can do multiple things for us. He can create explosive plays. He can do some good stuff after the catch.”
Darnold will have plenty of speed on the field with Perriman and Mims, whom the Jets took in the second round out of Baylor. He ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and showed in college that he can make tough catches. The big question around Mims is how he will adjust to an NFL offense after running a simple offense at Baylor that did not require him to run a full route tree.
Mims impressed the Jets at the Senior Bowl in January and they believe he can be a deep threat and red-zone target for Darnold.
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“He had an exceptionally strong week down in the Senior Bowl,” Jets assistant GM Rex Hogan said. “Showed the ability to accelerate to the deep ball and track it over his shoulder as a deep threat. But he also, during the season, on all the tapes that you watch, he shows a guy who can really climb the ladder in terms of going up to catch the ball at its highest point, playing above the rim. Just gives Sam another big, fast target with the ability to adjust outside of his frame and make catches. And, again, the huge catch radius is a plus in addition to the 4.38 speed. So, really excited about adding him to the mix to compete for us and Sam.”
Lost in the conversation about the new guys is Jamison Crowder, who actually led the Jets in receptions (78), receiving yards (833) and receiving touchdowns (6) last season. Crowder was a nice free-agent signing by former GM Mike Maccagnan and he had some big games in which he connected with Darnold out of the slot.
The Jets don’t have much depth behind their starters. Quincy Enunwa has already been ruled out for the season after suffering a neck injury last year and is probably done with the Jets.
Douglas signed Josh Doctson, a former first-round pick of the Redskins, taking a chance the Jets can get something out of a player who has been a bust to this point.
Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios are both speedy receivers who had some good moments last year for the Jets, but are not expected to have large roles.
Demaryius Thomas remains a free agent and there is a chance the Jets still could bring him back. Thomas is a favorite of Gase from their days in Denver together and he had a positive effect in the locker room last season.
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