Wideout Wanted: Jets Need to Address Glaring Hole in Offense

Dan Israeli Contributor IIIMay 21, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 7:   Braylon Edwards #17 of the Cleveland Browns points on the field during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 7, 2008 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Depending on how you judge it, the Jets went for quality over quantity in last month's NFL Draft, and a result, ended up with three picks that did not include a wide receiver.

Granted, the team did address its offense by trading up for QB Mark Sanchez in Round One and RB Shonn Greene in Round Three. They capped off their draft with OL Matt Slauson—6'4", 340-pound right guard from Nebraska—in Round Six.

Overall this offseason, the Jets have addressed a number of important needs, acquiring a hot-shot quarterback that can shake up camp, a versatile leader at linebacker, and a couple of useful pieces to a one-sided secondary. Nonetheless, it's safe to say this franchise has neglected the wide receiver position.  

More importantly, it's an area the team desperately needs to address after cutting WR Laveranues Coles in February. Coles may have lost a step, and has been dealing with injuries, but without him, the Jets don't have a true No. 1 receiver. His eroding skills, lingering status on the injury report, and poor relationship with management since the Pennington-Favre swap all made for good reasons to let him go.

As for having no real plans to replace him, other than going the in-house route, the Jets are putting themselves behind the eight-ball, especially with a rookie potentially starting at QB.

So what's left to do before Week One? The free-agent pool is very thin, as usual, with only a few attractive options remaining. If the Jets were to go this route, they should avoid washed-up veterans (Darrell Jackson, Ike Hilliard, Jerry Porter) and look at a younger player with upside.

One player of interest could be Miles Austin of the Cowboys, who has the size and speed to be a deep threat, but must develop as a starter. After that, there isn't much potential on the market, although Chicago's Brandon Lloyd made some good strides before getting injured last season. He always had the skills, but lacked the toughness and consistency to put together a strong season.

There is also the slew of big name receivers who were released after last season, namely the "trigger-happy" duo of Plaxico Burress and Marvin Harrison. Burress has drawn interest from owner Woody Johnson, but it doesn't appear that any team will touch Plax until his legal issues are resolved. Harrison has drawn absolutely no interest, which is shocking for a future Hall-of-Famer, albeit one that is turning 37. Harrison will probably get picked up after the season starts, since no team is interested in shelling out even a million in guaranteed cash.

This leaves the trade route as as another viable option for the Jets to find their No. 1 wideout. There are two big names out there: Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards. Boldin is tricky, since Arizona is reluctant to trade him and still working on an extension. Eventually, Boldin could come to his senses and realize how great a fit the Cardinals have been during his career, and how bright the team's immediate future remains.

While Edwards is the lesser of the two, due to his increasingly poor hands, he still is a dynamic athlete that caught 16 touchdowns two years ago.

There's been some talk of an Edwards-Thomas Jones swap, and while it might sound foolish to trade the AFC's reigning rushing champ, Jones is turning 31, and nearing 2,000 career carries. Edwards is only 26. The drafting of Greene, a potential starter, and the Jets solid and improving offensive line, make a Jones trade all the more realistic. It may be a risk worth taking.