Could Jeremy Kerley reunite with Rex Ryan?
A source confirmed to Newsday that the Jets free-agent slot receiver is visiting the Buffalo Bills and his former coach on Tuesday.
Kerley, 27, was a vital cog in the Jets offense during much of Ryan’s tenure, largely because of injuries and disappointing production from the receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, in particular Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill.
As a result, the 2011 fifth-round draft pick shouldered more of the offensive load in 2012 and 2013. In his second NFL season, Kerley had more catches (56) and receiving yards (827) than Holmes, Hill and tight end Jeff Cumberland, whom the Jets released last week.
In 2013, Kerley had 523 receiving yards on 43 catches despite missing four games with a dislocated elbow. In 2014, he had the same number of catches as rookie tight end Jace Amaro (38) and finished second behind Eric Decker in receiving yards (409).
But his production tailed off when Chan Gailey became the Jets offensive coordinator last season under new coach Todd Bowles. Kerley became a forgotten man — a byproduct of Gailey’s preference for big receivers — and caught a career-low 16 passes for 152 yards. He also was a non-factor on punt returns.
As early as training camp, Kerley could foresee a diminished role and he began preparing himself for life without the Jets.
“This is the team that drafted me, so it’ll always be love here,” he said in an interview with Newsday on Sept. 12. “I’ll always feel like this is kind of home. But I understand the business side, too . . . These are young years for me. So I consider myself a starter. That’s what I want to be. So whether it be here, whether it is wherever I’m at, I want to see myself as a starter.”
Time will tell if he gets that opportunity in Buffalo, or somewhere else.