Thanks to always-relevant drama at the quarterback position — and a late-season debacle regarding defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson — the drama of the New York Jets’ wide receiver group flew under the radar.
Robby Anderson had a spectacular season, as the former undrafted free agent nearly reached the 1,000-yard mark despite having bad quarterback play from Bryce Petty for the final three weeks of the season. But in the offseason, Anderson was arrested, casting a cloud of doubt on his long-term future.
Jermaine Kearse was a steal in the preseason Sheldon Richardson trade, but even he has a potential out in his contract that would save the Jets $5 million.
Retaining restricted free agent Quincy Enunwa for the 2018 season could provide for some positivity among the group going forward.
What he did in 2017?
Enunwa was the victim of an unfortunate neck injury that occured during New York’s annual Green & White practice, which ended his season before it even began. He did makes strides off-the-field, though, earning the nomination as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year candidate. Although he didn’t end up winning, it was an encouraging sign for the 2014 sixth-round pick, who appears to have made personal improvements after he was charged with assault in 2014.
In 2016, Enunwa was an always-moving piece in Chan Gailey’s offense, lining up in various spots and hauling in a career-high 58 passes for 857 yards and four touchdowns.
What could be his role in 2018?
As mentioned earlier, there are so many variables among the Jets’ wide receivers. If Anderson is cut (which seems unlikely, but possible) and Kearse does not return (also unlikely, but possible), Enunwa would enter training camp as the clear-cut No. 1 option.
He would also be a experienced pass catcher that could attempt to help second-year pros ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, both of whom were quiet in their rookie years.
What’s he worth?
So here’s where things get tricky. Enunwa is a restricted free agent, which works quite differently than most free agents. Here’s a rundown made as simple as possible.
The Jets have a few options of tenders they can offer Enunwa. All of them would let the team retain him for one year unless another team matches the tender. A first-round tender would reward the Jets with a first-round pick if another team signs Enunwa; a second-round tender would reward the Jets with a second-round pick if another team signs him; and an original-round tender would reward the Jets with a sixth-round pick if another team signs him.
But you may be wondering, ‘Why don’t the Jets just place the first-round tender on Enunwa?’ It’s because of the increased price tag that comes with it. The numbers will be slightly different this year, but here were the price tags for each of the tenders:
|Tender||Tender value (2017)|
|First-round tender||$3.91 million|
|Second-round tender||$2.746 million|
|Original-round tender||$1.797 million|
Should he stay or should he go?
In my opinion, it would make sense for the Jets to place a second-round tender on Enunwa. Had he been a fourth-round pick, it wouldn’t have been a shock to see the Jets place an original-round tender on Enunwa. But a team may take a gamble on a sixth-round pick for Enunwa, so it’d be risky to place the original-round tender on him.
A salary of just under $3 million — if no other team matches — seems reasonable for Enunwa. If a team does match, the Jets could obtain another second-round pick from that team, or — if they are willing to invest long-term in Enunwa — they would retain one of the few productive players from John Idzik’s draft classes.