Coming off a sub-par season offensively, the New York Jets‘ passing attack needs to be revamped. The top three receivers last season, in terms of receptions, were Jamison Crowder, Le’Veon Bell, and Robby Anderson, in that order. Crowder is under contract for two more years following his 3-year, $28.5-million deal from last offseason. Bell is still under contract, but there are several rumors surrounding him, which is a whole other discussion. Anderson is set to become an unrestricted free agent very soon. So, how should the Jets handle the situation?
The first option the team could explore is giving Robby Anderson the franchise tag, and then ultimately trading him. This would ensure two things: the Jets wouldn’t lose Anderson without getting anything in return, and they also wouldn’t have to pay him the money he’s seeking. This route was taken a couple of times last season, perhaps most notable with Jadeveon Clowney. The Houston Texans tagged Clowney before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. If the front office elects this is the best option, they could potentially end up with, not a first-round pick like the Cowboys got for Amari Cooper, but a late second or third-round pick, maybe two.
This is the easy choice. The team could sign Anderson to a multi-year deal, although they’d likely have to pay him more than they would like. Anderson finished with 52 receptions for 779 yards and five touchdowns last season. Those are solid numbers for a number-two receiver on a team, which Anderson would probably fit best as, but was the number-one receiver on the depleted Jets team. This point, plus the fact that this is a very thin free agency class regarding receivers, will make him request more money. According to Pete Prisco, a writer for CBS Sports, Anderson is set to be the third-best receiver in free agency, only behind A.J. Green and Amari Cooper. This will probably have Anderson seeking an annual salary over $10 million, at least. He has been reported to be wanting a yearly salary of $14 million, according to Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report.
Let him walk
Obviously, if a deal can’t be agreed upon, Anderson will play elsewhere. He should have a decent market because of the very thin free agency group. He’ll have teams willing to give him his desired salary and might be more appetizing to him. If this is the case, sure, the front office will have more money to spend elsewhere, but there would be a hole to fill. If he leaves, the team would have Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, Jehu Chesson, Josh Bellamy, and, possibly, Quincy Enunwa fighting for targets. That’s a receiving corp that would need help. Once again, this is a thin free agency. Outside of Anderson, Cooper, and Green, the next-best option is Breshad Perriman, especially after recently signing Josh Doctson. Perriman could probably be signed for less than Anderson but isn’t the same player he is. Regardless of offseason signings, the team should look to draft some playmakers.
Robby Anderson and the Jets have contract negotiations to figure out by the time free agency begins on March 18. If the team elects to let him go, backup plans need to be identified to replenish the receiving corp.