With free agency set to begin in about a month, the New York Jets are starting to hone in on some potential targets, notably at wide receiver. The Jets have long been linked to Eric Decker, and they reportedly have strong interest in Jeremy Maclin and Emmanuel Sanders as well. Each player would make a lot of sense for the Jets, and they would go a long way towards upgrading the Jets’ weak receiving corps.
Maclin is of course coming off a torn ACL, which could drastically lower his value on the open market. Maclin also worked with Jets offensive coordinator Mary Mornhinweg for several years with the Philadelphia Eagles, meaning he would easily fit into the Jets’ offensive scheme. Maclin has been very productive when healthy, and he had 69 receptions for 857 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2012. Unfortunately, Maclin has only played a complete season once in his five year career.
Sanders has seen his role increase with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the last few seasons, and he caught 67 passes for 740 yards and 6 TDs this season, all career highs. The Steelers aren’t in a great financial situation, and they have some other young receivers on the roster, meaning they could be willing to let Sanders walk away. Sanders is in line for a long term deal, while Maclin could potentially be signed to a one year deal to prove himself.
Both Maclin and Sanders have very good hands and are precise route runners, making them perfect fits for the Jets’ West Coast offense. Both would also present Geno Smith with a reliable top target, which is exactly what the Jets need. Maclin and Sanders are very similar players, and it would be a surprise to see the Jets make a move for both of them. The Jets are still likely to target a receiver with their first round pick, and I believe they will make a strong offer for Decker.
In the end, I see Maclin as the player they are most likely to target, because of his familiarity with the Jets’ system and the fact that he will be cheaper. Getting Maclin at a discounted rate could be a huge steal for the Jets and it is absolutely a move they should make. The Jets need all the help they can get at receiver this offseason, and either Maclin or Sanders would be an extremely positive addition to their receiving corps.