Lun. Abr 15th, 2024

Publicidad

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Somewhere in Malibu, California — or wherever he’s hanging out this week — New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is smiling.

His bosses back in New Jersey, in a span of nine days, have bolstered his supporting cast in an all-out, pedal-to-the-metal effort to add a companion to the Super Bowl III trophy that — in Rodgers’ words — is «looking a little lonely» in the team showcase.

The latest addition came Tuesday with the news that former Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams had signed a one-year contract that could be worth up to $15 million.

Rodgers is 40 years old, so there’s no such thing as building for the future. General manager Joe Douglas, put on alert recently by owner Woody Johnson, is filling holes with big-name players whose free agent markets were depressed because of durability concerns.

That’s how he landed eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, 33, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract (with another $13.5 million available in incentives) Friday. That’s how he got Williams, 29, who underwent ACL surgery only six months ago and surely has a ton of playing-time incentives in his deal.

The hope is that Williams and Smith can overcome age and injury to be what they have been, teaming with a presumably healthy Rodgers to make last season’s nightmare fade away. The Jets, who got only four plays out of Rodgers before his left Achilles gave out, finished 29th in scoring and 31st in yards last season.

Their offensive plan consisted mainly of a backup quarterback (pick one, anyone) forcing passes to wide receiver Garrett Wilson or throwing checkdowns to running back Breece Hall. They needed another weapon to relieve pressure on Wilson. That led them to Williams, whose size (6-foot-4) and ability to win contested balls should be a nice complement to the speedy and slippery Wilson.

«As far as the receiver room, we’ve got some great young guys and we’ve got some great vets,» Wilson said after the season. «But I think another infusion of someone that brought a different thing to the table that gives the defense something to worry about, it would be beneficial to everyone, not just me.»

Wilson was being diplomatic. In reality, the receiver room was filled with question marks, none bigger than Allen Lazard, who landed on the bench after signing a four-year, $44 million contract in free agency. Because of that mistake, Douglas had to venture back into the market for Williams.

«If healthy, he’s a starter, but more of a No. 2,» an AFC personnel director said. «It seems like a solid move for the Jets — if he’s healthy.»

Williams missed 18 games over the past two seasons, including the Chargers’ playoff loss in 2022. His numbers were average in 2022 (63 catches, 895 yards and four touchdowns). He hasn’t been an impact player since 2021, when he posted career highs in catches (76) and receiving yards (1,146).

It’s a stretch to think he can recapture that level after three years and surgery, but the Jets don’t need him to be the star of the show. They have Wilson and Hall to handle that. They just need him to be a complementary player, someone Rodgers can count on.

Based on past performance, it should be a productive union. Since 2018, his second year, Williams leads the NFL with an average of 15.8 yards per reception, based on a minimum of 200 catches. From 2018 to 2022, Rodgers led the league with 6,387 passing yards when targeting vertical routes, according to Next Gen Stats.

With Wilson and Williams on the outside, and with the dual-threat Hall in the backfield, the Jets can attack all areas of the field. The last time they fielded two receivers with résumés that included 1,000-yard seasons was 2016, with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They have a solid tight end in Tyler Conklin, but they could add firepower to that position by drafting someone like Georgia’s Brock Bowers with the 10th overall pick, which ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper projected them to do in his latest mock draft Tuesday.

Suddenly, Douglas has a lot of flexibility with that pick. By signing Williams and adding Smith, right tackle Morgan Moses and left guard John Simpson, Douglas addressed the most pressing needs on offense. Now he can sit back and take the best player, whether it’s Bowers or another tackle or a receiver if one of the big three prospects slips — Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze.

Bottom line: Rodgers’ supporting cast is better than it was a year ago. It’s an older group, with a lot of one-year contracts (and injuries), but there’s only one year that matters for the win-now Jets.

Fuente

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