So far in free agency, the New York Jets and general manager Joe Douglas have set out what they had to do by establishing the offensive line. The team brought back Alex Lewis, and signed Greg Van Roten, George Fant, and Connor McGovern, as their number one priority in the offseason was to protect Sam Darnold for the 2020 season. The Jets 2019 offensive line changed frequently every week, so this was their biggest need. New York also brought back other players such as Brian Poole, and Janoris Jenkins, but one other impact player was still available in wide receiver Robby Anderson.
Anderson’s market was slow, and the longer free agency went, the better chance he had at returning to the Jets. However, Anderson ended up signing a 2-year, $12 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets even more thin at wide receiver. New York responded by signing receiver Breshad Perriman, who finished 2019 very well over the last five games of the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but has struggled most of his career. With Anderson gone, Darnold has lost his biggest playmaker and a guy with whom he had great chemistry with.
Over Darnold’s first two seasons in the league, 19.3% of his passes have gone to Anderson, and 11 of Darnold’s 36 career touchdown passes have connected with Anderson, which is more than any other player for Darnold. Not only that, Darnold loses a proven deep threat that can take the top off the defense and create separation for big plays on this offense. An offense that other than Anderson, hasn’t really had many big playmakers on the outside.
It’s never a good thing to lose a playmaker like Anderson for a quarterback so young in his development, and a guy that your young quarterback trusts a lot. While Perriman finished the season well for Tampa Bay, prior to his strong five-game finish to which he caught 25 receptions for 506 yards and five touchdowns, he had only caught 11 passes in a pass first offense in their first 11 games, and is notorious for drops, especially during his time as a Baltimore Raven. The Jets are banking on Perriman that his finish to 2019 is a sign of things to come, but he’s got a lot to prove.
The Jets have helped Darnold with the offensive line, but now their job is to find him some playmakers. There is still time for Douglas as it’s only March and the draft is right around the corner. Douglas is going to go best player available, but you must figure wide receiver just jumped even higher on their list of needs after Anderson’s departure. At the 11th overall pick, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb could be there for the taking for the Jets. If the Jets want to offset the loss of Anderson, Darnold’s most trusted receiver, Douglas is going to have to work his magic once the draft and the next wave of free agency rolls around in order to keep their quarterback happy.