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Jeremy Kerley couldn't wait to leave Jets, now happy to be back

Jeremy Kerley is a better fit for the Jets' new scheme on offense. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jeremy Kerley was miserable with the New York Jets in 2015. He was so frustrated with his lack of playing time that he called it his worst year in the NFL. He welcomed his release the following year.

And yet there he was on Wednesday, standing in the Jets' locker room, happy to be back. When he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers Saturday, he reached out to coach Todd Bowles and others in the organization, lobbying for a reunion.

"As soon as it happened, I was looking for every Jets contact I had," Kerley said. "I hit up everybody."

What changed? That's easy. They have a new offensive coordinator.

Kerley clashed with the previous coordinator, Chan Gailey, who all but eliminated him from the offense. Gailey retired after last season and was replaced by John Morton, who has installed a West Coast- based system. Kerley figures to have a prominent role in the revamped receiving corps and could see significant playing time in the season opener Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

"Chan had his things he wanted to go with," Kerley said. "It's just a better opportunity now, I guess, because it's a different person here."

The Jets were hurting at receiver after a preseason in which they lost Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury. Let's not forget, they dumped Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall in the offseason. With no proven vets, they traded for Jermaine Kearse, but still felt they needed another.

For now, their top three probably will be Kearse, Kerley and Robby Anderson. They have Charone Peake and rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen on the bench.

Asked why he'd re-sign Kerley after the '15 debacle, coach Todd Bowles pointed to the difference in systems.

"Schematically, we were an outside passing team, and we had two guys outside who were getting the ball a lot," said Bowles, referring to Marshall and Decker. "We were more play-action and we needed bigger receivers. It's not that [Kerley] couldn't play, it's just that he didn't fit the scheme we were using. Now we have a little different game plan on how we want to use the slot receiver."

There was some revisionist history in Bowles' explanation -- Decker was a slot receiver in 2015 -- but there's no doubt that Kerley gives them a steady, veteran presence. He led the 49ers last season with 67 receptions, albeit for only 667 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't want to be anywhere else," Kerley said. "I didn't want to deal with anything else. This is the place I felt most comfortable. At the end of the day, it was kind of a perfect fit for my family as far as the people in the building and the environment.

"Besides, I know this team wants to win and they want to prove a lot of people wrong right now. That's something I want to be part of."