An ongoing subject of interest this offseason for the New York Jets has been the status of Braylon Edwards. Edwards and the Jets just worked for both sides, and the split in 2011 didn't go so well for either party. There has been a ton of speculation that the Jets would definitely be keeping tabs on Edwards and his recovery from knee surgery, but is there still room for him in what is now a crowded group of wide receivers for the Jets?
Santonio Holmes: The clear top receiver on the depth chart, the Jets want to get him the ball much more this season.
Stephen Hill: The Jets were pretty clear about their hopes for Hill this season. They want him to start opposite Holmes as a legitimate deep threat with size and speed.
Jeremy Kerley: Kerley is a natural fit at slot receiver in terms of size, hands and toughness and is a good runner after the catch.
Chaz Schilens: The Schilens signing had some penciling him in at the second receiver, set to start across from Holmes. It seems like Hill will wrest that spot away from him, but Schilens brings size and great talent to the table. Health has been an issue for him throughout his career, but he will have a roster spot if healthy.
That gives the Jets four wide receivers that have virtually locked up roster spots for 2012. Being that this is a ground and pound team that will carry at least three running backs and probably a fullback as well, don't expect more than five wide receivers to make the team. With Logan Payne being waived, here's the list of players currently in contention for that fifth spot:
Patrick Turner: Another tall target and a good blocker, Turner played with Mark Sanchez at USC and was active for 15 games last season.
Jordan White: The Jets used a seventh round pick on him and he had 140 catches for Western Michigan last season.
Eron Riley: Vultured off the Denver Broncos practice squad last season, Riley is another tall receiver but was only active for one game last season, the first time in his NFL career he suited up for a regular season game.
Scotty McKnight: Another Sanchez buddy, McKnight was picked by the Jets late in the 2011 NFL Draft, ended up on the practice squad, then suffered a knee injury. The Jets re-signed him a few weeks ago.
DaMarcus Ganaway: Ganaway was waived just before the 2012 NFL Draft, then re-signed. In truth, he will probably amount to a training camp body.
That gives the Jets five players already in the mix for the fifth wide receiver spot, two of which they used draft picks on. To be clear, none of these players come anywhere near the ability of a healthy Braylon Edwards. Therein lies a major part of the equation. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume Edwards is fully recovered.
Money should not be an issue. Of the four players locked in, three are cheap. Schilens came at a huge discount, Kerley is still playing out his original deal as a fifth round draft pick, and Hill has a second round salary. Edwards will be cheap, as there isn't much interest in him, he's had a bit of a checkered past and he's coming off an injury.
The only real question is where he fits. Patrick Turner played a fairly significant role on special teams for the Jets, and that's what originally seemed to lock the fifth spot up for Logan Payne prior to his injury. Edwards won't be used on special teams, Schilens is injury prone and probably won't see time on specials either and Kerley is a returner, so he is unlikely to be used on coverage units.
The only way it really works is if the Jets are comfortable with Demario Davis, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush playing significant roles on the coverage units. Given their speed and tackling ability, they seem to be nice pieces for Mike Westhoff to use. Problem solved.
Bottom line, expect Edwards to be in camp. If he is, and he's healthy, the Jets will have a wide receiver group that's big, fast and physical.
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