What I’ve heard about Jets free agency and the wide receivers they still might pursue


The New York Jets had a relatively quiet start to free agency, though general manager Joe Douglas has made moves to fill some holes on the roster. He’s signed one offensive lineman (guard John Simpson) and traded for another (tackle Morgan Moses). He also signed two defensive tackles (Javon Kinlaw and Leki Fotu), a backup quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) and cornerback depth (Isaiah Oliver) while re-signing a few veterans, most notably punter Thomas Morstead and kicker Greg Zuerlein.

For the most part, Douglas has been shopping in the middle tier of free agency. Don’t expect that to change — the Jets are unlikely to venture into paying significant money for any free agents or trade targets. Sorry to kill Jets fans’ dreams that the team will sign Mike Williams, Tyron Smith and Tyler Boyd in one fell swoop. It’s more likely they don’t sign any of them.

The Jets aren’t done adding yet, though, especially since they still have two gaping holes on offense at left tackle and wide receiver.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard in recent days in conversations with team and league sources about what the Jets have done, and what they still might do:

• The wide receiver market dried up a bit late Thursday night: The Chargers traded Keenan Allen to the Bears for a fourth-round pick and the Chiefs signed Marquise Brown to a one-year deal worth up to $11 million, per The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. The Jets were not seriously involved in pursuit of either wide receiver.

Allen carries a hefty $18.1 million salary and the Jets aren’t willing to spend that much on a wide receiver this offseason. Brown’s contract looks a little more reasonable, but the Jets never seriously entered the fray for his services. The Jets also weren’t interested in Diontae Johnson before the Steelers traded him to the Panthers this week.

• The Jets thought they were getting Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason. Then the Ravens came in with a last-second offer just as Beckham was getting ready to visit the Jets’ facility in Florham Park. Some in the Jets building are still intrigued by the idea of bringing Beckham in at the right price — as in, significantly below the $15 million the Ravens paid him in 2023. Beckham, who is friends with Aaron Rodgers, finished last season with 35 catches for 565 yards and three touchdowns, not quite living up to his contract — though there’s a feeling he played better than his numbers might indicate.

The question is whether Beckham is actually willing to take a significant pay cut.

• Multiple Jets players, including Garrett Wilson, reached out to Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd about joining them. As of Wednesday, the Jets weren’t seriously pushing for Boyd but that might change as other available receivers land elsewhere. The Steelers are believed to be interested. Boyd has been one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL over the last six years in Cincinnati.

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• Wide receiver Corey Davis applied for reinstatement this week and the Jets released him off the reserve/retired list on Thursday, allowing him to hit free agency. Davis left the team in training camp for undisclosed reasons. The Jets would welcome him back if he were open to returning, as he’s still beloved by coaches and teammates. I expect Davis to explore his options.

Davis signed a three-year, $37.5 million contract in 2021 and became a valued leader and locker-room presence but injuries kept him from living up to that contract. Davis missed 12 games over two years, but also wasn’t especially productive when he played: He had 66 catches, 1,028 yards and six touchdowns in 22 games.

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Allen Lazard is due a $10 million salary one season after he had 23 receptions for 311 yards and one TD. (Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

• We reported Thursday that the Jets have included wide receiver Allen Lazard in trade talks this offseason. They are not actively looking to get rid of him, but Lazard was included in a trade proposal to at least one other team and it’s not like Douglas would hang up the phone if others inquired about one of the NFL’s least-productive wide receivers last season. Lazard averaged 0.68 yards per route run, which ranked last out of 68 wide receivers to run at least 400 routes, per TruMedia.

Lazard is due a $10 million salary in 2024 and the Jets would probably have to eat some of that in a trade and/or attach a draft pick along with him to get another team to take on his salary. He will likely remain on the Jets’ roster this season with a decreased role.

• The Jets had plans to aggressively pursue Mike Williams as a free agent in 2022 but the Chargers never let it get that far, signing him to a three-year, $60 million contract just ahead of free agency. Williams has battled injuries since then and suffered a torn ACL last year, so he’s back on the market after getting released on Wednesday. When healthy, he’s one of the NFL’s best down-the-field threats and was expanding his route tree before his injury. The Jets are expected to explore signing Williams but won’t get into a bidding war.

• The young quarterback trade market has been active. Mac Jones was dealt to the Jaguars earlier in the week. Thursday, the Falcons traded Desmond Ridder to the Cardinals, and the Commanders dealt Sam Howell to the Seahawks. So where does that leave Zach Wilson? Some teams have had conversations about Wilson but there hasn’t been any real pursuit. He doesn’t carry much value at the moment.

• Some around the league were surprised at how much the Jets paid Kinlaw: $7.25 million for one year, $6.91 million of it guaranteed. Kinlaw is only 26 and coming off his best year — but it was also the first season he was completely healthy and he wasn’t especially productive (3 1/2 sacks, six QB hits). The Jets are banking on unlocking his potential, a reasonable gamble considering how good of a job defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton has done at developing talent. From a 49ers team source about Kinlaw: “He’s awesome. Great human, hard worker. We’re going to miss him. The injuries were tough for him but he battles and plays hard.”

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• The Jets are hosting free agent Ravens edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney for a visit next week. The 31-year-old had one of the best years of his career in 2023: 9 1/2 sacks, 19 QB hits and 71 total pressures, which ranked 11th among all edge rushers, per Pro Football Focus. Clowney is an intriguing potential target if the price is right, especially since the Jets lost pass-rush specialist Bryce Huff to the Eagles and are currently banking on the unproven Will McDonald playing a significant role. Clowney is also considered valuable as a run stopper. PFF projected Clowney for a one-year, $9 million deal, which might be a little rich for the Jets’ liking.

• Early in free agency, the Jets had internal conversations about offensive tackle free agent David Bakhtiari. As long as Bakhtiari is available — and as long as the Jets haven’t added any other clear-cut starter at left tackle — the former Packers star should be considered a possibility. He’s one of Rodgers’ closest friends and shouldn’t cost much considering his injury issues — and the risk attached to that. It’s also important to note that Jets coaches are extremely high on 2023 fourth-round pick Carter Warren, who started five games at left and right tackle as a rookie.

(Top photo of Tyler Boyd: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)





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