It’s no secret that the Jets are painfully thin at wide receiver. With Santonio Holmes expected to miss a few weeks due to a hamstring injury and Stephen Hill suffering from a concussion, the group gets even thinner.
Given the lack of depth at the position, it says a lot about just how little receiver Braylon Edwards has left in the tank and the team’s decision to release him during the preseason.
If the Jets are desperate enough, there are lots of guys sitting at home who have name value but are a step slower and are not quite what they used to be. Players like Chad Johnson and Donté Stallworth are available but they’re on the wrong side of 30 and have bounced from team to team the past few years for a reason.
All things considered, the Jets did pretty well in signing receiver David Nelson earlier today. Nelson turns 27 in November and, if healthy, is capable of becoming a key contributor.
The former Buffalo Bill caught 61 passes in 2011 and gives quarterback Geno Smith a big target to work with. He missed almost all of last season after tearing his ACL in the season opener, coincidentally, at MetLife Stadium against the Jets.
Nelson spent this past preseason with the Cleveland Browns but was cut after missing most of camp with a bone bruise in his surgically repaired right knee. He recently worked out for the Jets so the knee appears to be healthy enough for the team to sign him.
Gang Green similarly took a chance on tight end Kellen Winslow in the offseason and it has paid off thus far. Winslow, who also played just one game in 2012, currently leads the team in receptions and ranks behind only Holmes and Hill on the club in receiving yards.
To make room for Nelson, the Jets released wide receiver Ben Obomanu.
Obomanu had just one catch on the season and committed two penalties last week against the Tennessee Titans, including a mind-boggling unnecessary roughness on a touchback that didn’t help his cause.
Someone, anyone, from the current group of Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates, and Ryan Spadola will need to step up and make some plays alongside Nelson.
Kerley is the most likely of the bunch to make an impact. He started seven games last season and, aside from Nelson, is the most experienced at the position.
Gates has a ton of speed but there are questions about his hands, having dropped three passes earlier this year against the New England Patriots.
As an undrafted rookie, Spadola is something of an unknown and has seen very little time. His next catch will be the first of his career.
The Jets need all the help they can get at wide receiver and Nelson potentially gives them the size and talent they're lacking.
Playing time is readily available and for four guys with something to prove, the opportunity to seize it will certainly present itself starting this Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.