The New York Jets enter the 2024 offseason with various needs on offense. One of the biggest priorities for Joe Douglas is getting a complement to star wide receiver, Garrett Wilson. Many top free-agent receivers could be retained by their current teams, but before that officially happens let’s look at five top free-agent receiver targets for the Jets.
Jets Top 5 Potential Free Agent Wide Receiver Targets
1. Mike Evans
Since entering the league in 2014 as a first-round pick, Mike Evans has been one of the best and most consistent wide receivers in the game. This consistent production since his rookie year and a Super Bowl championship will one day land him in Canton, Ohio. Many thought going into 2023 Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would take a big step back, but fans very quickly found that assumption was wrong.
This season with Baker Mayfield taking over the reigns at quarterback, Evans produced 79 receptions for 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 1,255 yards finished ninth in the NFL and his 13 touchdowns were tied for first in the NFL with Dolphins wideout Tyreek Hill. This helped the Buccaneers reach the postseason and win a playoff game.
Before the 2023 campaign began many reports stated the Jets were a team that would be interested in Evans if he was dealt at the deadline. Of course, with Tampa Bay taking the league by surprise he played all 17 games in buccaneer red. After seeing what he did again this season the interest from Joe Douglas and company should only get higher. Evans has surpassed over 1,000 yards in each of his ten seasons and has shown no signs of slowing down.
2. Tee Higgins
Four years into his NFL career Tee Higgins has proven himself as one of the better young receivers in the game entering his prime. The Cincinnati Bengals found their lethal one-two punch in back-to-back drafts with Higgins in 2020 and Ja’Marr Chase in 2021. What Higgins did in Cincinnati gets fans excited about what he could do with Garrett Wilson in The Big Apple.
Despite missing five games in 2023 and losing his starting quarterback Joe Burrow in Week 11, Higgins still had a productive campaign. He was able to accumulate 42 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns. When you take a look back at 2021 and 2022 Higgins was even more impressive. Higgins generated back-to-back 74 reception seasons with over 1,000 yards in both years. In his four years total, Higgins has produced 257 receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns.
With Wilson set to be 24 when the season begins and Higgins 25 the potential is right there for these two players to be New York’s 1-2 punch for many years to come. It’s not going to be easy for Douglas, but bringing in Higgins who is just entering his prime, and pairing him with Garrett Wilson also entering his prime would go a long way for Gang Green.
3. Calvin Ridley
After being selected in round one, 26th overall in the 2018 draft by the Atlanta Falcons, expectations were sky-high for Calvin Ridley. Through Ridley’s first three seasons, he lived up to the hype, making many fans think he could take the torch from Julio Jones in Atlanta and big the next big thing for a long time. Unfortunately that all changed for Ridley when was suspended for the entire 2022 season for gambling.
After serving his one-year suspension, Ridley was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars where he quickly revived his career. Despite some criticism from Fantasy Football owners in particular, Ridley hauled in 76 receptions for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns in 2023. Those eight touchdowns and 1,016 yards both led the team. For a guy who missed a season at such a crucial position bouncing back for over 1,000 yards is impressive.
The sky is the limit for Ridley and it isn’t crazy to think he could repeat what he did in 2020 with the Falcons where he had 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. While that would be great, the Jets don’t need that type of production if he can stay around his 2023 numbers and stay on the field, Joe Douglas should make the call.
4. Michael Pittman Jr.
Throughout his first four years in the league, Michael Pittman Jr. has been dealt a similar hand at quarterback as Garrett Wilson. In four years with the Indianapolis Colts, Pittman has played with seven different starting quarterbacks. Despite this being against him he has produced at a very high level and has improved each season.
In Pittman’s 62 career games, he has grabbed 336 receptions for 3,662 yards and 15 touchdowns. When you look at his 2023 campaign it was a career year, hauling in 109 receptions for 1,152 yards and four touchdowns. He finished fifth in the league in receptions and 14th in yards.
Pittman similar to Wilson has gotten better each season both on the field and statistically despite the revolving door at quarterback. The possibility of Pittman playing alongside Wilson with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in only his age-26 season should get fans excited. It won’t be easy to bring him in, but if the opportunity is there Douglas needs to give it his best shot.
5. Tyler Boyd
It’s safe to say the Bengals will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason with a few key pieces set to hit the open market. While the chances of Higgins remaining in the Queen City are more likely than many think, that is not the case for Tyler Boyd. Taken in the second round of the 2016 draft, Boyd has spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Bengals.
Boyd throughout his career has been consistent for Cincy, both with his availability on the field and his overall production. In his career, Boyd has hauled in 513 receptions for 6,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. Those 513 receptions put him fourth all-time in Bengals franchise history, while his 6,000 yards rank seventh in franchise history. In 2023, Boyd had 67 receptions for 667 yards and two touchdowns. Boyd’s two best years came in 2018 and 2019 where he had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Despite his role seeing changes over the years since entering the league in 2016 Boyd has always been a solid receiver. Recently Boyd has been mainly relied on as a third option behind Chase and Higgins. However, he can produce in a larger role and if the other options aren’t there this could be an under-the-radar pivot for Joe Douglas.
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