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How Jets uncertainty at quarterback may impact landing a top free agent wide receiver


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How Jets uncertainty at quarterback may impact landing a top free agent wide receiver

Top tier receivers on the market will want to be sold on contention
Ralph Vacchiano
NFL Insider
2/25/2021 6:48pm

Sam Darnold/Zach Wilson/Justin Fields/Deshaun Watson
Treated by SNY

Allen Robinson has made it clear he wants to sign with a team that will “compete for a Super Bowl.” Chris Godwin insists he won’t grab a bigger payday and end up someplace “where I’m going to be miserable.”

So when free agency starts in less than three weeks, teams will have to sell those two top receivers on more than the size of their offers. They’ll need to show them they’re ready to win, that they have a stable organization, and a clear plan for at least the immediate future.

How are the Jets supposed to do that when they don’t even know who their 2021 quarterback is?


“It’s the first question they’re all going to ask, after they know the money,” said an NFL agent, who does not have one of the top receivers this year. “Money is always going to matter most to some guys. But if it’s close, the Jets are going to have some tough questions to answer.”

That’s a problem with the start of free agency less than three weeks away and with the Jets poised to dive head-first into the pool of available receivers – a stellar group that could include Robinson, Godwin, Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Will Fuller and Corey Davis. The Jets are sitting on a mountain of salary cap space, so finances won’t be a problem. But they won’t even be close to figuring out their quarterback plans by the time the market opens on March 17.

In fact, the Jets’ expect to spend most of the next two months making that quarterback decision – unless, of course, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson were suddenly available in trade (and currently, to be clear, they are not). Jets GM Joe Douglas’ intention all along, according to team sources, has been to analyze all the top quarterbacks in the draft and weigh them against Sam Darnold (and his contract situation) before deciding which one is their best option for the franchise’s future.

That process is still in the early stages and is complicated by the absence of the NFL’s annual scouting combine this week. It will now be more than a month until the Jets’ brass can see two of the top quarterbacks in person, since BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s Pro Day isn’t until March 26, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ Pro Day isn’t until March 30.

That means the Jets likely won’t identify their 2021 starter until it gets much closer to the first day of the NFL draft on April 29.

For the top receivers on the free-agent market, that will be far too late.

“Players don’t like uncertainty,” said another NFL agent. “I would think those (top receivers) will want to know who their quarterback is going to be, not just for this year, but for the length of their new deal.”

Assuming most of those top receivers get three- or four-year contracts, that’s a huge issue for the Jets. Even if they choose to stick with Darnold, he’s still only signed through the end of 2022, and that’s only if the Jets pick up his fifth-year option in May. And while the Jets would be getting the second-best quarterback in the draft behind Trevor Lawrence if they choose to go that route, it’s far from guaranteed that a prospect like Wilson or Fields will be any better than Darnold’s been.

In other words, any receiver signing with the Jets would have to accept the possibility that the franchise would be looking for another new quarterback soon – possibly as soon as next year.

Of course, with possibly as much as $90 million in salary cap space in what is largely expected to be a depressed free-agent market, the Jets could tip the scales in their favor by overpaying – especially if they miss out on the top two or three and have to look at the second tier.

That second tier, though, could end up as the top tier if some of the top receivers – Robinson, Golladay or Godwin, in particular – end up getting the “franchise tag” from their current teams. That would make it even more difficult for the Jets to win some of them over with money alone, especially with a long list of teams – like the Dolphins, Ravens, Patriots, Colts, Bengals, Jaguars and Panthers -- all potentially looking at the free-agent receiver class, too.

 

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well i guess we're lucky that only two teams will be in the show next season, the chiefs and the bucs and they can't absorb all of the players that are available.  and this just means the jets will have to direct their drafting efforts more to wrs.  that not so bad.  it takes a couple of seasons for a wr to reach prima dona status and by that time they can be shipped of or let go in free agency.  as colleges develop better passing games, there will be far more good receivers to chose fro.

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What are FA’s suppose to say? Imagine a FA comes out and says “I’m going to the highest bidder. Lineup mother****!”. Nobody will sign him to descent money. Look at what happened to Clowney. Dude was like I’m trying to get paid. Every GM in the league was like no you’re not! We don’t trust you’ll give full effort once you get paid.

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3 hours ago, slimjasi said:

Another reason to move on from Sam sooner rather than later

That’s strange I thought Darnold was “thought of highly“ around the league and we were silly Jet fans 🤔

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2 hours ago, GreenFish said:

What are FA’s suppose to say? Imagine a FA comes out and says “I’m going to the highest bidder. Lineup mother****!”. Nobody will sign him to descent money. Look at what happened to Clowney. Dude was like I’m trying to get paid. Every GM in the league was like no you’re not! We don’t trust you’ll give full effort once you get paid.

 

2 hours ago, DetroitRed said:

Guys are not getting paid this time around.  Jets, Fins and Jags are in a good spot

I think you both are underestimating what a decrease in productivity will do to a players reputation and salary. Who’s throwing the ball will be very important to these players

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33 minutes ago, oatmeal said:

 

I think you both are underestimating what a decrease in productivity will do to a players reputation and salary. Who’s throwing the ball will be very important to these players

Money and Term are 1 though 9 of the most importance, if things are totally tied then #10 is who is my QB.

This is their big pay day they won't care who the QB is.

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4 hours ago, Jets Things said:

ARob, Godwin, or Golladay ain't coming here 1) without Watson or 2) unless we overpay for their services. And 3) Juju can kiss my dick. I want no part of him here. 

Juju ridiculously overrated 

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I highly doubt letting it know that your QB is going to be Zach Wilson over Sam Darnold is going to make a difference.  Watson would obviously make a difference but the draft is the earliest they are trading him.

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1 minute ago, FidelioJet said:

Happily pay the money if it didn't come with a 4 first round pick price tag as well.

You know what, for once I would like to enjoy March and April instead of suffering from anxiety. Well, not me because I smoke buds...just saying.

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I whole heartedly believe Kenny Golladay has the goods to be a #1 WR. I would do my best to get Golladay or Curtis Samuel. Both are expected to want less money than Allen Robinson, JuJu or Godwin & are both solid WR’s. Just get one and add a lower tier WR to the mix.

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The problem is these guys know they’re only going to get the guaranteed portion if the QB play is terrible. So they may be looking at 2 or maybe 3 years before getting released, with a huge pay cut then following, and years of misery and regret along the way.

However if they’re still producing, their new teams will keep them into the non-guaranteed years. And a position like WR is more dependent upon another than a DB or a lineman. 

e.g. $17MM x 4-5 years is more than $18MM x 3 years, plus $5MM/yr thereafter.

So unlike most other FA positions, the top offer on paper may not end up paying the most in the end. 

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Realistically speaking, Arob, Godwin and Golliday will not be available. These are 3 of 10 best WR's in the league and should be franchised or renewed.

So we're looking at JuJu, Samuel and C. Davis. Corey Davis is my choice here. He showed signs last year and shouldn't cost a lot.

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31 minutes ago, RichardTodd27 said:

Realistically speaking, Arob, Godwin and Golliday will not be available. These are 3 of 10 best WR's in the league and should be franchised or renewed.

So we're looking at JuJu, Samuel and C. Davis. Corey Davis is my choice here. He showed signs last year and shouldn't cost a lot.

Rumors has it that Arob and Golliday can be had for a 2nd round pick after being franchised. I'll pass and go with Davis as well who's be cost efficient enough to target another WR in FA.

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1 hour ago, LAD_Brooklyn said:

Rumors has it that Arob and Golliday can be had for a 2nd round pick after being franchised. I'll pass and go with Davis as well who's be cost efficient enough to target another WR in FA.

Davis is young. Has talent. His numbers first half of 2019 were down due to playing with that bust Marcus Mariota and second half of the season Tannehill was just game managing for Henry

 

Yeah definitely he’s someone we should be offering a contract 

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11 hours ago, undertow said:

I highly doubt letting it know that your QB is going to be Zach Wilson over Sam Darnold is going to make a difference.  Watson would obviously make a difference but the draft is the earliest they are trading him.

Yeah but those 4-5 games per year they get to play with Wilson will be worth it

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