With free agency set to start with the new league year on March 12 and the New York Jets not having much, or any cap flexibility, this week will be spent previewing some cheap free agents who could still help greatly on the field. This is part two of four. Click for part one and part two.
If there was any position outside of quarterback for the New York Jets that lacked skilled players, it was wide receiver. Starting the likes of Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill did not do Mark Sanchez any favors when he had to drop back to pass. The return of Santonio Holmes should help, but not at the star level—or really above average level—he was expected to be when he was brought in.
Another young and cheap receiver could help this group out. Really young and cheap anything should help the Jets out anywhere. For some help on the outside and in the slot, the Jets should consider Kevin Ogletree.
Most observers will remember Ogletree for his eight receptions, 114 yards and two touchdowns against the New York Giants on opening night of the 2012 NFL season. Most observers then forgot about Ogletree for the rest of the season.
Ogletree’s standard statistics did drop off after his huge Week 1 game, but that was not his fault. When everyone was healthy, Ogletree was a fourth option behind Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten in the Dallas Cowboys passing game. The trio of Bryant, Austin and Witten averaged around 25 targets per game, which didn’t leave much left for Ogletree to have a huge impact on the games.
According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA—which quantifies a player’s value per play—Ogletree was an above average receiver and had a higher DVOA than Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall and Victor Cruz. As a reference, no Jets receiver had a positive DVOA for the season.
With an increase of playing time—Ogletree only played 41 percent of Dallas’ offensive snaps—and a larger role in an offense, it would be safe to predict Ogletree to have more production on the field during the course of a season.
As he just completed his fourth season in the league, Ogletree is still only 25 years old—just a year older than Jeremy Kerley. Ogletree also was playing on a one-year/$640,000 contract for the Cowboys last season and made only $480,000 the year before.
If Ogletree’s salary from last season doubles in free agency, he’ll make $1.28 million for this coming year. If the Jets could grab a 25-year-old receiver with Ogletree’s potential on a two-year/$2.5 million contract, it has to be done.
The addition of Ogletree in the passing game could give the Jets an above average top three group in Holmes, Kerley and Ogletree.
One wide receiver might not be enough to bring the Jets offense to competency, but at a young age and a low price it’s a good start.
Follow Dan on Twitter @DanPizzuta