Ranking Top Wide Receivers the New York Jets Should Target in Free Agency

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:   Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos reacts in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With Santonio Holmes assuredly on his way out and Stephen Hill looking more and more like a colossal draft bust, the New York Jets are in major need of an infusion of talent in the wide receiving corps. 

Luckily for Gang Green, they have the cap space to freely spend on their biggest position of need in free agency. 

So what free-agent wideouts should the Jets target? Check below for a complete ranking and analysis of which available receivers would be the best fits for Marty Mornhinweg and Geno Smith.


Top-Shelf Options

Michael Perez/Associated Press

1. Jeremy Maclin

Maclin should be among the Jets' top targets when free agency rolls around for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, the 25-year-old is coming off a major ACL injury, so he can be had at a relatively low price compared to the type of player he is. Secondly, he is familiar with New York's offensive scheme, as he worked under Marty Mornhinweg for four years.

Thirdly and most importantly, Maclin is an electric playmaker. Although he has never surpassed 1,000 yards in a single season, he is a superb deep threat who is capable of turning any play into six points.

If Gang Green can bring Maclin to Jersey, Jets fans should be ecstatic.


2. Eric Decker

Eric Decker will receive a huge deal from a team in free agency. Many will be quick to say he is overpaid, as many believe he is simply a product of the Peyton Manning system.

However, Decker is more than just a mediocre receiver in a fantastic situation. The Minnesota product has phenomenal size, hands and route-running ability. His speed is also underrated.

Add in the fact that Decker is a dangerous red-zone weapon, having scored 32 touchdowns in the last three seasons, and he is the perfect fit for the Jets offense.


SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates in the fourth quarter while taking on the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (P
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

3. Golden Tate

Golden Tate can sometimes rub opposing players the wrong way on the field. He doesn't have great size or breathtaking speed, and he has never eclipsed 900 receiving yards or eight touchdowns in a single season.

However, Tate would immediately improve New York's passing game. He's a smart, tough player with solid route-running ability and good hands. If the Jets can pair Tate with a high draft pick or another free-agent wideout, that would be ideal.


4. Hakeem Nicks

Like Tate, Hakeem Nicks does not come without question marks. He has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career, having never played 16 games in a single season, and his attitude can sometimes be a problem.

With that said, Nicks possesses more upside than any other wideout on the free-agency market. He's a big, strong outside weapon who can both move the chains and make plays downfield.

Coming off a rough season, Nicks could also be a bargain for Gang Green.


Secondary Options

1. Danario Alexander

Danario Alexander has just 83 catches and 1,395 receiving yards since making his NFL debut four years ago. He is coming off a severe ACL injury too.

However, the Missouri product would be a cheap and smart signing for the Jets. Alexander possesses colossal size at 6'5'', 217 pounds, and his route running is crisp.

He would give the Jets a nice No. 2 outside receiver to pair with a top-tier signing and could emerge as a dangerous red-zone weapon for Geno Smith.


Dec 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones (89) is tackled by Chicago Bears free safety Chris Conte (47) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

2. James Jones

James Jones has benefited greatly from Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him. Even with Rodgers at the helm, Jones has never broken 850 yards in a season over his seven-year career. Those kind of mediocre numbers in such a great system will likely mean Jones will be underpaid in free agency this offseason.

If the Jets can swoop in and sign the 29-year-old to a two- or three-year deal, he would provide them with a solid No. 2 wideout with a nose for the end zone.


3. Kenny Britt

Kenny Britt has struggled to live up to his immense potential thus far in his career. He has been plagued by off-the-field issues and the Titans can't wait for him to skip town despite his elite talent.

If the Jets give Britt a chance in free agency at the right price, though, it could pay dividends. With a scary combination of size and athleticism, Britt could become a go-to option for Geno Smith.


4. Jerome Simpson

Jerome Simpson doesn't have the upside of a Kenny Britt or a Danario Alexander, but he would give the Jets a solid possession receiver. Simpson boasts superb athleticism and great speed, and he would be a nice third or fourth option in the passing game.