It is something of a miracle that the Jets, with a rookie quarterback and no real deep threats, managed to go 8-8 in 2013. Much of that is a testament to the defense, but expect changes at wide receiver this offseason if for no other reason than to give Geno Smith at least one legit downfield target.
After two injury-riddled seasons, Santonio Holmes and his $10.75 million cap charge will almost certainly be jettisoned. And 2014 could be the last opportunity for Stephen Hill, the former second-rounder, to make an impression. It's also why the team is interested in soon-to-be free agents Jeremy Maclin and Emmanuel Sanders, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.
Maclin, drafted in the first round by the Eagles in 2009, missed the 2013 season with an ACL injury. In 2012, he played in 15 games, catching 69 passes for 857 yards and 7 touchdowns. Sanders, a 2010 Steelers third-rounder, had 67 receptions for 740 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2013. Either player would immediately upgrade the Jets' wide receiver corps, whose best pass catcher last season was undersized slot receiver Jeremy Kerley.
The Jets could also be interested in the Broncos' Eric Decker, but there are concerns whether he can be a No. 1 receiver.
Maclin is familiar with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's system (the two worked together when Andy Reid was the head coach in Philly) but the Eagles could choose to re-sign him. If that doesn't happen, Maclin has said previously that he's open to a one-year contract.
“For a team that wants to give me a one-year deal, that's cool,” the wideout told Comcast Philadelphia last month. “I'll just go out there and ball out, do the things I think I can do. Hopefully get that type of deal I'm looking for (after 2014). If a team wants to give me a long-term deal, I'll go out there and still do the same thing.”
Sanders, meanwhile, likely won't be back with Pittsburgh. The Patriots, thin at wide receiver last offseason, signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet but the Steelers matched. Now Sanders will probably get a chance to test the free-agency waters.
Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, coach Rex Ryan has said that, at the very least, the team will address wide receiver through the draft. Ideally, they'd land a veteran playmaker before then too.