The trade deadline is only a couple of days away and while Leonard Williams has been the most talked about trade chip on this Jets roster, the Robby Anderson trade chatter has been quickly heating up. Sun God is a fan favorite and started to build a good bit of chemistry with Sam Darnold when Darnold returned from injury last season. However, now with Adam Gase running things, Anderson seems to have fallen out of favor with the current coaching staff. Would it be smart to get rid of Sun God for draft capital?
Outside of catching passes from Darnold (who has clearly been the best QB he’s played with), Anderson has had the pleasure of running routes for Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty, Josh McCown, Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk. His best season came in 2017 where he would have had a 1000 yard season if McCown didn’t miss the last four games with an injury.
-In his eight games against the Patriots, Anderson has 16 combined catches on 46 targets for 179 yards and zero touchdowns (2 catches and 22.4 yards per game average).
-In 20 games against the AFC East, Anderson has a combined 56 catches on 115 targets for 709 yards and five touchdowns (2.8 catches and 35.5 yards per game.
-This is more of an indictment on the Jets rosters he’s played on but in the 15 wins he’s been a part of: 52 catches on 87 targets for 943 yards and seven touchdowns. In losses: 120 catches on 236 targets for 1603 yards and nine touchdowns.
-In the 15 games he’s played with Sam Darnold, Anderson has 53 catches on 105 targets for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. He has gone over 50 yards five games out of the 15.
The Case For Trading Anderson
Before Adam Gase started running the offense, it looked like Darnold and Anderson were in store for a big year two together. However, it’s been a rocky start to the season and Gase called out Anderson after having a tough Week One against the Bills. The offense seems to be funneling in targets more for Demaryius Thomas and Jamison Crowder than Anderson, and that’s without Chris Herndon.
If this new regime doesn’t see Anderson the way the majority of the fan base does, then it would be the right thing to do to get some draft capital to fill other holes on the roster instead of letting him walk in free agency after the season. Joe Douglas was part of the front office with the Eagles last season that actively tried to trade for Anderson but if Adam Gase does wield as much power with the personnel, Anderson might be on his way out.
Is Anderson the best receiver on this roster? Yes. Does he have good chemistry with Sam Darnold? Yes. However, he no shows against the Patriots consistently in games which the Jets desperately need offense. There are games where he’ll give you eye popping stats and then the next four weeks be a no show. There hasn’t been the consistency you want to see from your so called “WR1”. If you think Sam Darnold can reach close to his ceiling, then trading Anderson to recoup a draft pick and use it to bolster more important positions might be the smart thing to do.
The Case For Keeping Anderson
Outside of being the best social media follow by far on this Jets roster, Sun God has consistently improved as a wide receiver each season even if the stats don’t necessarily point to it. He’s developed a deeper route tree and isn’t just looked at as a speedster who can only run nine routes. He’s gotten stronger at the catch point and is more of threat in the middle of the field as opposed to just being an outside the numbers guy.
Anderson isn’t a true “WR1” in the sense of a Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins or pick your favorite guy. While Adam Gase hasn’t been this offensive mastermind this season, we haven’t seen Anderson, Darnold, Bell and Herndon on the same field in the regular season. The Jets have a lot of winnable games coming up and Anderson has shown flashes that he can beat your best cornerback like a drum. It might be a little premature to pull the trigger on a deal when there’s certainly potential that Darnold and Anderson can regain some of that magic we saw at the end of last season against some lesser defenses.
We’ve seen what Anderson can do when him and Darnold are clicking. On a roster that doesn’t have much talent depth, you have a couple of scenarios that could play out in the future. If Anderson struggles through the rest of the year, you can get him on a cheaper deal after the season and you can get more weapons that alleviates some of the pressure from Anderson. If he plays well, then you have to worry less about filling a WR spot and can focus more on the offensive line, edge and corner while knowing that Anderson will produce if you add one or two more good skill position guys.
All social media bias aside, unless you’re wowed with an over the top offer, I think it would be wise to keep Anderson. The Jets constantly looked overmatched against the Patriots regardless of who’s on the roster. What good does it do to trot out Thomas, Crowder and Braxtion Berrios as your three wide set? Teams don’t respect those guys and that leads to more stacked boxes for Le’Veon Bell.
The Jets don’t have a lot of depth at skill positions. While the allure of what a draft pick could potentially turn out being, what would your expectations be for his replacement if you drafted him with the third or fourth round pick you’ll most likely be getting? Would they be…perhaps…a Robby Anderson type player? If you get a ridiculous offer (say an early second), then you pull the trigger. But if the third or fourth round return that I would expect for him is all you’ll get, it would be more wise to keep him on the roster and re-sign him after the season.