Jets general manager Joe Douglas has focused on adding some big bodies in free agency to protect Sam Darnold, which was prudent considering all the struggles the offensive line had last year. But at some point, Douglas will have to turn his attention to giving his third-year quarterback some weapons.
The Jets remain without a No. 1 receiver. Robby Anderson is still available. He’s worked with Darnold for two years and he knows Adam Gase’s system. It seems like a good fit — if the price is right.
Free agency hasn’t gone as expected for Anderson. It was anticipated that Anderson would receive plenty of attention as one of the top receivers in a rather weak market. Four days into free agency and Anderson is still available, and not much has been said about teams showing interest in him.
This could be a good sign for the Jets and their ability to re-sign Anderson.
Anderson said on ESPN last week, “I have been getting a lot of interest from teams. Teams have been expressing to my agent that pretty much I’m the ideal guy of who they want.” There was plenty of speculation that Anderson could receive a salary starting at $12 million a year in this receiver class. But it doesn’t appear the market for Anderson has developed as many expected.
The best free-agent receiver, Amari Cooper, is staying in Dallas on a five-year, $100-million contract. None of the next tier of receivers are signed. Anderson, arguably, leads that group that also features 49ers veteran Emmanuel Sanders, who played for Gase in Denver, Tampa Bay’s Breshad Perriman and the Patriots’ Phillip Dorsett.
Among them, Sanders is the closest to being a No 1. receiver. But he’s 33. Anderson is 26, has more upside and has spent the first four years of his career with the Jets.
They do want to bring back Anderson. Douglas said after the season that Anderson “knows how valued he is here.” Douglas again indicated that he wanted Anderson back during last month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. Gase did, too, saying the continuity between Darnold and Anderson and being in Year 2 in the system together were important.
But if one thing is obvious about Douglas’ free-agent approach is that he’s not going to overspend. He reached deals with three offensive lineman — George Fant, Connor McGovern and Alex Lewis — totaling roughly $73 million with about $38 million in guarantees.
Price matters, but the Jets desperately need to surround Darnold with quality receivers. The only proven one under contract is Jamison Crowder. Quincy Enunwa is signed but it’s unclear if he will play again after suffering a second serious neck injury last season.
If Anderson signs with another team, the Jets could turn to Sanders, Dorsett or Perriman. The cost shouldn’t be prohibitive. They also could address the receiver position in the draft either on Day 1 or Day 2.
It’s possible the Jets could use the No. 11 pick on a dynamic receiver such as Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb if Douglas doesn't choose another offensive lineman there.