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I would love to get a look at the paper the New York Jets Depth Chart is written on—I mean the official copy. Under wide receiver, it must look like swiss cheese with all the holes at the position.
With Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill coming back from season-ending surgery (and Hill still trying to learn a pro offense), the only healthy proven receiver on the roster at this point in time is Jeremy Kerley. The Jets have a plethora of undrafted free agents who may or may not make the roster, but a veteran presence is sorely needed on the team.
So, who then?
John Idzik brought in former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ben Obamanu on a one year deal to be the veteran presence at the position. Obamanu has 6 seasons under his belt, however, he did not stand out in OTAs or mini camp, and his stats don’t scream “proven talent” In 66 games (5 seasons), Obamanu has had 87 Receptions on 154 targets, 1209 receiving yds, 7 TD's, and 0 fumbles.
Several free agent vets are still available for the Jets at this point in time, among them former Jet Braylon Edwards and former Patriot receiver Brandon Lloyd. These three WR's have much in common. All are over 6’0 tall, have good speed, and can stretch the field, by giving the team a big downfield target.
Let’s take a look at each receiver in greater detail. (After the jump...)
Let’s start with the fan favorite, Braylon Edwards. Edwards has a career total 359 receptions in 685 targets, for a total of 5,522 yards. This totals out to about 15 yards per catch. Not too shabby. In all these receptions, he’s fumbled 5 times. He has good hands, and of the three receivers, ran the fastest 40 time at 4.41.
After his 2010 season, which was his second best career year statistically—recording 53 receptions for 904 yards and 7 touchdowns, Edwards left the Jets to check the free agency market. He signed with San Francisco, and has struggled to stay healthy since. He was released from the 49ers at the end of 2011 after requiring knee surgery, and later revealed that he had played with an injured shoulder for most of the year. He latched on with Seattle in 2012, but was waived in the later legs of the season, after spending some time on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He was picked up by the Jets per a claim, and finished the year on a contract that expired at the end of the season.
Edwards has a history of getting into trouble, and is not afraid to speak his mind (See: 2012 “Twitter Incident” in which he called the Jets front office “idiots”). However, he produces on the field, and has chemistry with embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez. He has proven to be a solid receiving option when given the chance, despite his off-the-field issues. Edwards could easily be brought back on a vet minimum deal, as he has expressed a desire to be a member of the New York Jets in the past. However, it is rumored that GM John Idzik is not a fan of Edwards, and that is the reason he has not been brought back by the Jets.
Another name being kicked around during the offseason is former Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd is well-traveled, having seen playing time with the 49ers, Redskins, Bears, Broncos, and Rams, before latching on with the Patriots in 2012. Playing in 128 games, Lloyd has 385 receptions on 568 targets for 5,695 yards totaling a 14.8 yard/catch with 3 fumbles.
Lloyd doesn’t possess the speed of Braylon Edwards or Obamanu, running a 4.62 40 during his combine, but he has good hands and can get separation on defenders. However, he is another story of injury and off-the-tfield issues.
In 2007, as a member of the Washington Redskins, Lloyd missed several team meetings and was left behind by the team when they traveled to face the Jets in November. He spent the rest of the year on IR after receiving a collar bone injury, and was released by the team in 2008. He signed on with the Bears in 2008, and suffered an injury early in the season, for which he did not recover from until later in the season. He was released by the Bears and followed Kyle Orton to Denver. In 2010, he lead the NFL in receiving with 1,448 yards. In October of 2011, he was traded to the Rams, as Tim Tebow was taking over quarterback duties for the Broncos. After catching 51 passes for the Rams and racking up 683 yards, Lloyd signed a 3-year deal with New England in 2012 worth $12 million. Lloyd was released by the team earlier this year after he and the team failed to come to terms on a renegotiated contract.
Lloyd's off-the-field issues cause some pause for concern. Still, his injury history isn’t as extensive or recent as Edwards; Lloyd only missed playing time in 2007 and 2008 due to injury.
However, the fact that he would not consider a contract restructure in New England is a red flag. He may not be willing to take the kind of money the Jets have to offer him, with no promise of a long-term contract. Regardless of all of this, he’s a solid receiving option for a team thin at receiver.
Obomanu is of the same body type as Edwards and Lloyd. He is 6’1, and ran a 4.45 40 at his combine. His career numbers may not be as eye-popping as the aforementioned receivers, however according to Seahawks fan site, Obomanu brought, “fundamental route running, strong hands, and outstanding special teams work…” to the Seahawks organization.
Obomanu entered the league in 2006, drafted by the Seattle Seahawks out of Auburn University. He spent all of 2006 on the Seahawks practice squad, and made the active roster in 2007, but only hauled in 12 catches that year, doing most of his work on special teams.
He spent 2008 on injured reserve after breaking his collarbone in a preseason game against the Raiders, and did not return until 2009. In 2009, he played in 14 games, hauling in 4 balls for 41 yards. He was also very active on special teams, returning 11 kickoffs for 293 yards in total.
In 2010, Obomanu won the number two receiving job out of camp, but was injured in the Seahawks home opener.
He only missed one game, and had the best season of his career, posting 30 receptions for 494 yards and 4 touchdowns.
2011 saw his production decrease slightly with the additions of free agent Sidney Rice and rookie Golden Tate. In 2012, Obamanu played in only 8 games, posting 4 receptions for 58 yards, before being with a wrist injury, , and ending the season on injured reserve.
Digesting it all
Each of these receivers fits the mold of a deep, downfield threat that the Jets sorely lack.
Edwards is obviously the fan favorite, and while he could be acquired at a vet minimum, his recent struggles to stay healthy are a red flag for anyone. Idzik was in the front office in Seattle, and was in a perfect position to judge Braylon’s ability to get and stay healthy. If he hasn’t jumped on him yet, there’s good reason.
Brandon Lloyd may be the flashiest signing of the three, but the fact that he refused to renegotiate his contract for the Patriots is cause for concern. He may be asking for more money than the Jets, with their limited cap space, might be willing to part with.
Obomanu, though he may not have the stats of the other two, is what we’ve come to expect from the Idzik regime so far. He is a low risk, potentially high reward signing, who has the capability to be a big-play threat down the field. He has none of the off-the-field issues that come with Edwards or Lloyd, and can provide some depth on special teams as well.
Until training camp starts and the positional competitions begin to play out, expect Obomanu to play the part of the veteran well, and don’t expect any other veteran additions in the meantime.