A closer look at Jermaine Kearse and how he fits with Jets' receivers

Jermaine Kearse had just 41 catches for 511 yards and one touchdown last season with Seattle. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets' addition of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is similar to Mike Maccagnan's primary offseason acquisitions in that he's coming off a down year. It was the same with Morris Claiborne, Kelvin Beachum, Chandler Catanzaro and Josh McCown.

Injuries, scheme fit, age ... there is a myriad of reasons why a player declines in a particular year. It's up to the organization to dig deep, beyond the statistics, to find out the root of the issue.

With Kearse, acquired Friday from the Seattle Seahawks in the Sheldon Richardson trade, it's not easy figuring out what went wrong in 2016. He called it a "humbling" year: 41 catches, 511 yards and only one touchdown. (In 2015, his numbers were 49, 685 and five.) Kearse, a hometown hero who grew up near Seattle and played his college ball at the University of Washington, became a target of the fans' vitriol.

There were whispers that he got complacent after signing a three-year, $13.5 million contract. Kearse has insisted that wasn't the case. From all accounts, he's a solid citizen with a good work ethic.

In explaining his interest in Kearse, the Jets' general manager stressed the player's "character" and "intangibles." Maccagnan said Kearse "will help some of our young guys come along." So he will be a much younger version of McCown, which is to say a mentor.

Kearse probably will start with Robby Anderson, which could make Kenbrell Thompkins expendable. Kearse can play the slot, but most of his production has come on the outside even though he's not a burner.

But back to last season. Kearse, 27, is young and healthy, so what went wrong?

A closer look at the Jets' newest receiver:

  • He finished with a catch percentage of only 51.3 percent (receptions/targets), which ranked 77th out of 87 qualifying wide receivers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It was only 33 percent during the second half of the season (17 for 51), which is awful. Was it due to the offense or the quarterback, Russell Wilson? Not really. Teammate Doug Baldwin had the second-highest mark in the league, 77 percent.

  • Kearse struggled in the red zone. He was targeted a team-high 11 times, but had only one reception. Some fans blamed him for the team's red zone struggles.

  • He was a penalty machine in 2016. Kearse was called six times for offensive pass interference, second in the NFL among wide receivers.

  • He's known for making big catches in big moments. In Seattle's Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos in February 2014, he broke four tackles on his way to a 23-yard touchdown. In the following Super Bowl, against the New England Patriots, he made a juggling catch for the ages to set up what should've been the winning touchdown. Then came the Malcolm Butler interception, a play in which Kearse failed to adequately "pick" cornerback Brandon Browner. The fans got on him for that, too.

Maybe Kearse will benefit from the fresh start. The Jets have a lot of guys like that on their roster.