WR Mike Williams key addition to Win-Now Jets, Aaron Rodgers

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By journalsofus.com


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

His owners in New Jersey have, over a period of nine days, strengthened their supporting cast in an all-out, pedal-to-the-metal effort to add a penchant for the Super Bowl III trophy — in the words of Rodgers. — “Looking a little lonely” at the team showcase.

The latest information came Tuesday with the news that former Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams has 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, who was recently put on alert by owner Woody Johnson, is dealing with a lack of big-name players whose free agent market was depressed due to sustainability concerns.

That led to 33-year-old eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract (with $13.5 million available in incentives) on Friday. That way they got the 29-year-old Williams, who had left ACL surgery six months ago and certainly has a lot of playing time incentives in his deal.

Hopefully Williams and Smith will overcome age and injury to return to form and possibly team up with a healthy Rodgers to avoid the nightmare of last season. The Jets, who got to play four games before Rodgers tore his left Achilles, finished 29th in scoring and 31st in yards per game last season.

Their offensive scheme primarily consisted of a backup quarterback (pick one) 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 good complement to the quick and slippery Wilson.

“As far as the receiver room, we have some great young guys and we have some great vets,” Wilson said after the season. “But I think another inclusion of someone who brings a different thing to the table that gives the defense something to worry about will be beneficial to everyone, not just me.”

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

“If healthy, he’s a starter, but more of a No. 2,” said the AFC personnel director. “This 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 in 2022 were average (63 catches, 895 yards and four touchdowns). He hasn’t been a dominant 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 it. They need to make Williams a complementary player that Rodgers can rely on.

Based on past performance, it should be a cartel. Since 2018, his second year, Williams leads the NFL with a minimum of 200 catches, averaging 15.8 yards per reception. According to Next Gen Stats, from 2018 to 2022, Rodgers led the league with 6,387 passing yards when targeting vertical routes.

With Wilson and Williams on the outside, and dual-threat Hall in the backfield, the Jets can attack all areas of the field. The last time they deployed two receivers with resumes 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 at that position by drafting someone like Georgia’s Brock Bowers with the 10th overall pick, who ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper noted in his latest mock draft on Tuesday. Was presented in.

Suddenly, Douglas has a lot more flexibility with that selection. 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 receiver if one of the Big Three prospects — Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabors or Washington’s Rome Odunze — One of them leaves.

Bottom line: Rodgers’ supporting cast is better than it was a year ago. This is an old group, with many one-year contracts (and injuries), but only one year matters to the winless Jets.

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