With the New York Jets apparently losing top wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season on Monday due to a neck injury, it makes you wonder if they might just be in the market to trade for another one prior to the regular season getting underway.
As most of you should know by now, the Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly have a nice group of wide receivers currently on their 90-man roster. In other words, they’re likely going to have to part with one or two who can play in the NFL after the preseason is over. So, could they ultimately trade one of those bubble experienced wide receivers to Jets?
Before we go any farther, it’s virtually impossible to predict trades and especially with a nearly full preseason schedule yet to be played. Additionally, while the Jets loss of Enunwa is big, at least their organization still has four full weeks left to scout other NFL team’s rosters during the preseason in order to see if any might fit them. In short, a lot of good wide receivers are likely to be cut just prior to the start of the regular season.
Let’s now suppose the Steelers are open to ultimately fielding trade calls for one of their wide receivers; which ones would they be willing to part with and what would they likely hope to get in return?
Most of you will provably argue that there are perhaps six wide receivers in total currently under contract with the Steelers that the team might be willing to trade and they likely are: Eli Rogers, Demarcus Ayers, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, and Sammie Coates. With that said, let’s look at the likelihood of each being traded and to the Jets specifically.
Eli Rogers – While I included Rogers on this list to satisfy the masses, he is probably the least likeliest to get traded. Sure, the Steelers drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster this year and while he’s likely to be the team’s future slot receiver, Rogers is still the starter at that position until further notice. Rogers value even as a backup is strong and thus I just can’t see the Steelers being willing to part with the former undrafted free agent unless the offer was eye-popping.
Demarcus Ayers – What do any of us really know about Ayers right now? Sure, he had his moments late last season following his promotion from the Steelers practice squad, but in all honesty, he still needs to show a lot more before another team will be willing to trade for him. In short, I can’t see the Jets, or any other team for that matter, trading for the former seventh-round draft pick.
Cobi Hamilton – In all honesty, Hamilton’s not a starting wide receiver in the NFL. At best, he’s a No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver and thus really shouldn’t be considered legitimate trade-bait.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Heyward-Bey, while a fine special teams player, is no longer a serious candidate to start week in and week out in the NFL. He hasn’t been very productive since arriving in Pittsburgh a few years ago and at 30 years of age, the Jets would be foolish to part with as much as a seventh-round pick for him.
Justin Hunter – Ok, now we might be getting warmer when it comes to legitimate trade candidates. Hunter, a former second-round draft pick, is reportedly having a nice first camp in Pittsburgh so far. Additionally, he’s decent insurance to have around should something ultimately wind up going wrong again with fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Keep this in mind as well. The Steelers signed Hunter to a one-year contract and thus if the Jets ultimately traded for him, he would essentially be a one-year rental for them. Would they really want to do that?
Sammie Coates – Of all the wide receivers on this list, Coates could ultimately be the best candidate to be traded. That assumes, however, that he’s able to overcome his current knee issue and show he can be the wide receiver he was early last season during the second half of this preseason. That’s a lot of assumptions, right? Coates, in case you haven’t seen, is still on the Steelers Active/PUP list and there’s no indication as to when he’ll be removed from it. Should, however, Coates make it back sooner rather than later and excel during the preseason, the Jets might be interested in him as he has two years left on his rookie contract. That said, I couldn’t see the Jets giving the Steelers anything more than a future sixth-round draft pick for him if even interested. Let’s keep some perspective here. Coates, a former third-round draft pick and all, has played in just 20 regular season games so far during his career and registered all of 22 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.
Summation: We’ll see what direction the Jets ultimately go in. In all honesty, however, their 2017 season was over way before Enunwa was lost. If I were running their organization, I would only trade for a wide receiver right now if I believed said player could help me long-term. In short, the Jets would probably be wisest to scour the preseason games in an effort to identify a few bubble wide receivers that might be worth developing in 2017, or perhaps a grizzled veteran to get then through this year. As I said earlier in this post, quite a few decent wide receivers will be looking for work in less than five weeks from now. Sure, a sixth-round draft pick might not seem like a lot to part with, but don’t tell the Steelers that as that’s the very round they drafted wide receiver Antonio Brown in several years ago.
If the Steelers can ultimately trade Coates or Hunter for a draft pick, good for them. With that said, I’m not holding my breath thinking that will ultimately happen. Time will tell.