As the Jets approach season’s end, the team continues to face adversity in their players and coaches. There has been rumor circulation around Todd Bowles’s lifespan with the team, Muhammad Wilkerson drama continues to pile on, and Jeremy Kerley is now no longer with the team.
Kerley was in the midst of his second stint in New York. After being drafted by the team in 2011, Kerley was released by the Jets in 2016. He then signed with the Detroit Lions, but was soon after traded to the 49ers. A bit over a year later, he was back on the waiver wire, and the Jets, in need of receiver support, picked him back up.
Things Weren’t the Same
Expectations were high for Kerley as he made his way back to New York. He was once a solid number two receiver for the team, and many thought he would compliment both Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse despite being a veteran.
But Kerley kept quiet. While he caught almost every ball thrown his way (22/27), quarterback Josh McCown couldn’t get the ball to him as much as he would’ve liked. In eight games played in 2017, Kerley had 22 receptions for 217 yards and a touchdown. The Jets wanted to utilize the versatile punt returning receiver more though.
However, that plan was stifled as Kerley became the center of an NFL suspension. Following the team’s Week 10 loss to the Buccaneers, Kerley was in the headlines for reportedly violating the league’s substance abuse policy. While he denied the accusations, his four-game suspension was upheld by the NFL. He wouldn’t be able to play with the team until Week 15 against New Orleans.
And while he was eligible and active for his return, the Jets held him out of the game. This possibly due to his name being back in the headlines for another not-so-pleasing reason:
A Quick Fling
Not long after the Jets heartbreaking loss to the Saints, the team decided it was time to cut ties with the veteran. On Monday morning, the team made it official.
Kerley’s second stint with the team was short-lived, and it is somewhat unfortunate with the way it ended. Kerley was once a diamond-in-the-rough type talent, but his recent suspension and lack of production caught up to him.
But that isn’t the only reason why the Jets decided to end the relationship.
Simply put, the Jets see where they’re headed as a team. The rest of 2017 will be more about young development than anything. While Kerley presents a tough matchup for opposing secondaries, the team is thinking more long term.
In the case of punt returns, the Jets would like to see rookie JoJo Natson improve and develop. During his three seasons at Utah State, Natson tied the record for first all-time in both Utah State and Mountain West history with four punt returns for touchdowns. The Jets would like to plug him in more in these final games. They need to see what his future with the team could behold.
On the receiving side of things, Natson and rookie counterpart Chad Hansen will likely see more work. The Jets understand that if a new quarterback is at the helm in 2018, a few potential offensive weapons will only help him succeed. Kerley is not that long-term option.
Hansen could develop into a major piece for the Jets young team. Coming off his junior season at Cal, Hansen was named first team All-Pac-12 after recording 92 receptions for 1,249 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games. The Jets grabbed him in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
So now with the playoffs out of reach, the Jets would prefer to use these last few games to tap into any withheld potential. They see Kerley as a setback in that sense, and with his off the field issues, it only makes sense that the Jets break things off.