Friday, May 16, 2014

Will Jalen Saunders Be Jeremy Kerley's Eventual Replacement?

When the Jets drafted Oklahoma wide receiver Jalen Saunders with the 104th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, many questioned the pick since New York already has a reliable slot receiver on the roster, Jeremy Kerley. But with Kerley in the final year of his contract before hitting unrestricted free agency, general manager John Idzik is looking towards the future with one of his 12 picks.

Kerley has been a key piece to the Jets’ offense over the past few seasons as a reliable playmaker in the slot. His body of work should net him a contract in the range of the 4-year, $12.2 million deal Andrew Hawkins received from the Cleveland Browns as a restricted free agent. The Cincinnati Bengals decided not to match that offer and it seems the value-oriented Idzik would be inclined to follow a similar path and let Kerley walk, rather than double his 2014 salary for the next four seasons.

While Kerley may be worth the money, he’s well-liked by Jets fans because he’s been the only reliable receiver on the team over the past two seasons. With the additions of Eric Decker and Jace Amaro through free agency and the draft, Kerley’s days as Geno Smith’s (or Michael Vick’s) first read are over. Without game-breaking skills or great deep speed, Kerley may not be the best choice for the roster as the offense’s third or fourth option.

Enter Saunders. With 4.44 speed and game-breaking skills as a slot receiver and return man, Saunders is looking likely to take on Kerley’s role full-time in 2015. Idzik claims he wants to establish the Jets’ own personal blueprint rather than follow the Seahawks’ plan, but it’s hard to ignore the similarities between the two organizations.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

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