Not surprisingly, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes have been dominating the free agency discussion surrounding the New York Jets this off-season. Mike Tannenbaum will have his hands full attempting to bring back both his receivers. However, the Jets have a third free agent wide receiver, who is appearing less and less likely to return, Brad Smith.
Smith doesn’t have the numbers or name recognition of players like Edwards, Holmes, or Antonio Cromartie, yet was still one of the most valuable members of the team last season. Despite not fitting into a conventional position, Smith racked up 299 rushing yards out of the Jets “Tiger” formation, returned two kicks for touchdowns, threw a touchdown, and had 44 receiving yards.
Most people are assuming his production as a returner will decline because of the new kickoff rules and while he is valuable on offense, is he worth Josh Cribbs type money, especially with Holmes and Edwards vying for big paydays?
The short answer is no. If the Jets can get Smith back on a relatively cap friendly deal after Holmes or Edwards walks, than more power to Mike Tannenabaum but the Jets can’t break the bank for a player like Smith with all their other free agents this off-season.
Smith basically functions as the team’s number three running back, even though his carries come mostly on direct snaps. Hopefully, Joe McKnight can develop into a big enough part of the offense to give them the 299 rushing yards, Smith had last season. In terms of the direct snaps, the Jets can work their other running backs into their version of the Wildcat. No, they aren’t the same threat to throw that Smith was but let’s be honest here, Smith completed 2 passes for 6 yards in 2010. The Jets can compensate for that.
As Mark Sanchez continues to develop and the Jets open up their passing attack more, there is going to be less of a need for gimmick plays on offense that put him on the side-line.
Brad Smith is a nice player but the Jets should be able to fill the void left by him this off-season if they can’t work out a new contract for him.