Kerley, 28, released Saturday by the San Francisco 49ers, signed a one-year contract to play for the team that drafted him in 2011.
Concerned about their young receiving corps, the Jets have added two veterans in the past five days -- Kerley and Jermaine Kearse, acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in the Sheldon Richardson trade. Kerley also could be a candidate to return punts.
Kerley was phased out of the Jets' offense in 2015 and released after the season, landing in San Francisco, where he caught 64 passes for 667 yards and three touchdowns. The Niners liked him enough to sign him to a three-year, $10.5 million deal in the offseason, which made his ouster a surprise.
In late June, Kerley blasted the now-retired Chan Gailey in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, saying he was "pissed off" because he didn't get much playing time in 2015. He called it "by far my worst year in the league. I absolutely hated the NFL. I wasn't getting any playing time at receiver; I was just strictly punt return. Me and Chan Gailey were always ... we didn't see eye-to-eye. I didn't have a lot of respect for him. It was probably the same for him."
Gailey was replaced by John Morton, a first-time coordinator.
In five seasons with the Jets, Kerley recorded 182 receptions for 2,225 yards and nine touchdowns.
In another roster move, the Jets waived fullback Julian Howsare. He was projected as a starter.