The New York Jets‘ desperate need for playmakers on offense has led to them being linked to just about every receiver and tight end in this year’s free agent class. Obviously the Jets won’t be following through on all the rumors, but one player they should be targeting is Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders just finished his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his statistics have risen each year, posting career highs of 67 receptions for 740 yards and 6 TDs this year.
Sanders would be a very good fit for the Jets, as he is experienced with a similar passing offense in Pittsburgh. Sanders isn’t the biggest receiver at 5’11, 180 lbs, but he brings a lot of other attributes to the table. Sanders has 4.4 speed and has shown great quickness after the catch in his career. The Jets badly need a player who can turn a routine catch into a big gain. Sanders also is a very strong route runner with excellent hands, something the Jets lacked last season. Geno Smith clearly didn’t trust anyone other Jeremy Kerley last season, and Sanders would give him another reliable receiver he can look to in key situations.
Sanders turns 27 in a couple weeks, so he is just entering the prime of his career. He has improved each season, and there is reason to believe he will only continue to get better. Sanders is not a traditional No. 1 receiver, but that isn’t necessarily a problem. The Jets could pair Sanders with a bigger receiver they take in the draft, giving them the balance they are looking for in their wide receiving corps.
Sanders should not be going for No. 1 receiver money, but a deal that pays him $5-6 million annually could be a nice fit for the Jets. Sanders will be cheaper than Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks and possibly even Golden Tate, which works for a Jets team that isn’t intent on repeating the Miami Dolphins’ mistakes from last season. The team that signs Sanders will be banking on continued improvement, but there is no reason to think that won’t happen. Sanders would be a big upgrade for the Jets and is a great fit, and making him their top receiver target makes a lot of sense.