Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
The Jets reportedly completed a trade on Wednesday afternoon, bringing veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas aboard to boost the available weapons at quarterback Sam Darnold's disposal.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this trade is the fact that the Jets would deal with their divisional rivals in New England. It seems implausible that the Patriots would be willing to give the Jets a player that they think can help them, especially only for a late-round pick that they won't receive until 2021.
Nevertheless, Adam Gase will have been keen to target Thomas, who was his best receiver when he made a name for himself as the Broncos' defensive coordinator. In Gase's first year in that role, Thomas caught a career-high 14 touchdown passes and then posted career highs for catches (111) and receiving yards (1,619) in their second year together.
Since that time, Thomas' numbers have been in constant decline, although he did catch 105 passes in the year after Gase's departure. However, he had an awful postseason that year, with just 60 yards on 20 targets and his production, yards-per-catch average and touchdown totals have all been falling in recent years.
While he's clearly not the player he once was, Thomas obviously still has some value, as he caught 59 passes last season, during which he was traded from Denver to Houston. However, he tore his Achilles in late December, causing further concern that the 31-year old may have lost another step.
Thomas showed some signs that he can still be a productive player during preseason, though, as he caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in his only appearance. However, that was far from convincing as it only came against the Giants' backups in the preseason finale. New England -- who had already released and re-signed him once -- wouldn't have had much use for him after having acquired Antonio Brown over the weekend though, so it almost seems like the Jets are doing them a favor by taking on his salary.
One concern about this move is that is could be an overreaction to the first game of the season. Gase seemed reluctant to blame Darnold or his own playcalling for the Jets' offensive struggles against the Bills, suggesting that the receivers could have done a better job.
While Gase is no doubt happy to be bringing aboard a player who will know exactly what's required of him and how to be productive within his system, it will be disappointing if introducing him to the mix causes young players with the potential to keep improving like Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Chris Herndon to be featured less often and stunts their development.
In a few years, Thomas could be out of the league, whereas the Jets need to avoid repeating the mistakes of the previous regime that didn't develop enough of their own young players into key contributors.
However, if Thomas can be a veteran leader that teaches those young players how to be more effective within the system it could prove to be an excellent move for the longer-term future of the team. Again, Gase should have some idea about Thomas' character and ability to be a mentor.
As for what Thomas can bring to the table, the obvious thing he brings to the table is size. While Anderson is almost as tall and Enunwa is almost as heavy, none of the Jets' receivers have that combination of height and size that can make him effective at going up to make catches in traffic and exploiting matchups.
Thomas is a capable run blocker too, despite a reputation for being soft in some circles. Thomas has always been a downfield threat, tough to bring down and capable of producing in the red zone, but again these are all things he's done less of over the past few seasons. He had 25 touchdowns in two years with Gase as his coordinator, but only has 16 in four years since then.
He also only caught four passes more than 20 yards downfield in 2018 -- and that was before his injury.
The success of this move will depend on how much Thomas has left in the tank and what kind of mentor and positive influence he can be on the Jets' younger pass catchers. Hopefully, it's a carefully thought-out move by Gase working in concert with his general manager, Joe Douglas. If not, and it's more of a desperation move, then it doesn't say much for the confidence of the top brass in their existing team.