Lichtenstein: Jets Were Wise To Replace Robby Anderson With Breshad Perriman

By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

Robby Anderson had a large section of fans in his corner during his excitable four-year tenure with the Jets. New York took to the undrafted free agent wide receiver who used his exceptional speed to make explosive plays over the tops of opposing defenses.

Fans forgave Anderson’s two arrests stemming from confrontations with police, his immature actions on the field and his limitations as a receiver beyond deep routes, including inconsistent efforts making contested catches. To them, he was a homegrown success story on the verge of becoming a star.

Except he wasn’t. I detailed in a prior post why the Jets would be wise to allow Anderson, 26, to walk in free agency. I predicted that the winning bid would be significantly more than Carolina’s 2-year, $20 million deal reportedly agreed to on Tuesday, but I can see now why the market never broke the way I expected, and the way Anderson hoped. It’s simple supply and demand, a slew of receivers are projected to be selected in the first few rounds of April’s draft. NFL executives were loath to gamble on such an enigmatic player when they are staring at a prime collection of cheaper talent. Dollars and sense lightened Anderson’s wallet.

Which is why Jets general manager Joe Douglas was also smart to bring in former Tampa Bay receiver Breshad Perriman on a reported one-year, $8 million ($6 million guaranteed) deal not even an hour after the news broke on Anderson.

Breshad Perriman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Raymond James Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Perriman, who is four months younger than Anderson, has the ability to replicate his predecessor. He ran a 4.24 40-yard dash on his UCF pro day before the Ravens selected him 26th overall in the 2015 draft. Two Ravens executives responsible for that draft were Douglas and current Jets director of player personnel Chad Alexander. Though Douglas bolted to the Bears a few weeks after the draft, Alexander stuck around for Perriman’s three disappointing seasons in Baltimore.

In fact, Perriman didn’t stand out on the field until the final five games of last season. When opportunity struck due to injuries to Bucs top receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Perriman took off. He recorded 25 receptions for 506 yards and five touchdowns in those five contests. He had no drops or fumbles either.

Remember how Anderson fans were so pumped when he also got hot late in the season? In those same five weeks, Anderson caught 23 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. In that stretch, he had three drops and a fumble.   

There’s always a risk that Perriman’s outburst was merely a contract run, that it won’t be sustainable in New York, not that Perriman has to match Anderson’s stats in 2020. The Jets just need Perriman to command similar respect from opposing defenses, forcing teams to keep at least one safety back at all times or else risk getting burned. Quarterback Sam Darnold has plenty of underneath go-to guys, like slot receiver Jamison Crowder, running back Le’Veon Bell, and tight ends Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin.

Signing Perriman doesn’t alleviate the hole on the other side of the field either. Crowder, with Braxton Berrios providing depth, is fine in the slot. As of now, however, coach Adam Gase’s options for the other wideout are Quincy Enunwa (if medically cleared from a series of neck injuries), Vyncint Smith, and Josh Doctson. Yuck.

That means Douglas can’t afford to swing and miss in his receiver draft choices. I maintain that the Jets would be set up best if they brought back still unsigned free agent left tackle Kelvin Beachum and used the No. 11 pick on a receiver, preferably Henry Ruggs III. However, if tackle is Douglas’ first-round play, then it is imperative that he pick someone ready to step in and play immediately in round two, where the team has the 48th overall pick.

He'll have plenty of options, much to Anderson’s dismay.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.