The New York Jets and pending free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson haven’t known much success in their relationship. Since the 26-year-old wideout joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2016, the Jets have gone 21-43, and since Anderson’s breakout sophomore campaign in 2017, his numbers haven’t taken significant leaps.
That’s all to say that it would be a mistake for Gang Green to give up on Anderson ahead of free agency this month. Anderson, who finished the 2019 season with 52 catches for 779 receiving yards, scoring five touchdowns, is the Jets’ preeminent deep threat and somebody constantly trying to evolve his game. As everybody knows, New York’s focus on offense for the long term is rising junior quarterback Sam Darnold, the franchise’s third overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. Darnold and Anderson have an obvious chemistry on the gridiron, and the 22-year-old possesses a strong arm, with Anderson poised to continue being the recipient of the USC product’s long tosses.
As of now it looks unlikely for the Jets and Anderson to agree to terms. One report from The Athletic’s Connor Hughes blatantly states New York won’t re-sign Anderson due to the price. Additionally, the AFC East club could be looking to offer Anderson the type of deal DeVante Parker signed with the Miami Dolphins (four years, $40 million). The difference between Parker and Anderson, however, is the Dolphins receiver signed an extension last December while Anderson has the benefit of the free agency market in which to dip his toes.
Further, Anderson has had more productive seasons than Parker with the Jets’ division rival Dolphins, with a breakout fifth-year campaign in 2019 for Parker producing the extension. Thus, Anderson will likely make more than $40 million in free agency, but can New York afford it?
The Jets have roughly $56 million in salary cap this offseason pending releasing potential deadweight players. If they hand out a contract to Anderson worth something like four years and $56 million, is the Temple product worth a quarter of the cap space?
That’s up for debate, but the Jets are not going to do much better than what Anderson delivers on the field (he’s also only missed two games in four seasons), particularly if they don’t plan on shelling out big money to other, higher profile names in the wide receiver class given how reluctant they are to re-sign Anderson. And New York looks keen on drafting an offensive lineman in the first round next month with the 11th overall pick, too, so where is the production from the wide receiver corps coming from to aid Darnold?
The Jets would be wise to simply pay up for Anderson, a diamond-in-the-rough product they scoop up in 2016 as an undrafted wideout, blossoming into one of the better deep threats in the NFL. Provided they don’t plan on upgrading the receiving unit with their 11th overall pick, who better is New York going to acquire this offseason?