Could A.J. Brown or DK Metcalf become available? New York Jets ready to strike for star receiver

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Catch a rising star? The ill-fated pursuit of Tyreek Hill revealed the Jets' desire to make a bold move for a WR1, and team officials made no attempt at this week's owners meetings to throw a wet blanket on that idea. As we told you last week in this space, they continue to monitor the wide receiver market.

"If the opportunity is right and the price is right, we’re going to strike," general manager Joe Douglas said in Palm Beach, Florida.

The hot names are the Seattle Seahawks' DK Metcalf and the Tennessee Titans' A.J. Brown, both of whom have only one year left on their rookie contracts and are up for mega-extensions. The receiver market has exploded in recent weeks, prompting Seahawks GM John Schneider to express sticker shock. The Jets' Twitter pounced on that, fueling its visions of Metcalf in green (meaning the Jets' color, not money, although the latter would certainly apply).

Would it be wise for the Jets to make a blockbuster move? It takes two to tango, and the Seahawks are telling teams that Metcalf isn't available, a source said. Brown is the name to watch, as mentioned two weeks ago, because of the Titans' tight cap situation.

Let's analyze:

The Jets are more than one player away from being a legit contender, and the cost of a trade (in money and draft picks) would impede their ability to address other needs. You have to believe Seattle, if it decides to shop Metcalf, would want back their first-round pick (10th overall) from the Jamal Adams trade -- and then some. Tennessee also would figure to target that pick.

Asked if he'd be willing to part with one of his two first-round choices in any trade, Douglas was reluctant to comment on a hypothetical scenario. But he added, "If it's the right opportunity, we'll consider any package." He acknowledged wide receiver is "definitely a premium position for us," in large part because it would help quarterback Zach Wilson.

As usual, the draft is loaded with receivers, with six projected first-rounders in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft. The Jets could take Ohio State's Garrett Wilson or Southern Cal's Drake London with the fourth or 10th pick. A player drafted at 10 will cost $23.5 million over four years, while Metcalf and Brown -- based on the escalation of receiver salaries -- figure to command at least $25 million per year.

It's more cost-effective to draft and develop, but -- and this is a big "but" -- the Jets have the benefit of a rookie quarterback contract. Basically, it's a three-year window that affords them tremendous flexibility. For the Jets, that's a game-changer. That's why they were willing to splurge for Hill, and it's why they would be interested in Brown, Metcalf or another contract-seeking marquee receiver if he becomes available.

Metcalf is only 24 and his best days are ahead of him. Ditto Brown, 24, who is on the same level as Metcalf from a production standpoint but is less durable. They're four years younger than Hill, which adds to the allure of this potential trade. The Jets should go for it, as long as they don't have to give up the fort. As Bruce Arians would say, "No risk it, no biscuit."

2. Did you know? We’ve never seen this many blockbuster trades. In March, seven first-round picks have been traded for veteran players, the most in a single month in the common-draft era (since 1967). The breakdown: Deshaun Watson (three), Russell Wilson (two), Davante Adams (one) and Hill (one).

3. Draft buzz: Wide receiver, defensive end, cornerback and safety are the biggest needs, but there's a good chance the "best" player available with the fourth pick will be an offensive lineman, either Evan Neal (Alabama) or Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State). What, then? Douglas will not stray from his board, so an offensive lineman can't be ruled out, especially if the first three picks are defensive ends. If that happens, cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner (Cincinnati) could enter the conversation.

4. Edgy options: To me, the most compelling players from a Jets standpoint are edge rushers Travon Walker (Georgia) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon). If one is available, it's a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly. Thibodeaux could be overrated and lacks an "all gas, no brake" mentality, according to some talent evaluators. Walker has rare traits, but his production (six sacks) concerns some.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is a Walker fan, saying, "I don't think there's a player in this class who generates more power from the ground up. His production numbers are going to be a lot better in the NFL than they were in college."

It would be a surprise if the Jets don't pick an edge player at No. 4 or 10.

5. Winners wanted: One of the underplayed storylines this offseason is how the Jets followed through on their objective to add leadership to the locker room -- specifically, players with winning backgrounds. Coach Robert Saleh said he wanted to sign players who had experienced "championship moments." You need those kind of guys on any team, but especially a team like the Jets, because we all know it's been a long time since they won anything.

The Jets accomplished that, as their top seven free-agent additions have combined for 31 postseason games. Five of them played in a Super Bowl -- cornerback D.J. Reed, defensive tackle Solomon Thomas and guard Laken Tomlinson with the San Francisco 49ers; safety Jordan Whitehead with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and tight end C.J. Uzomah with the Cincinnati Bengals. Whitehead is the only one with a Super Bowl ring.

"We're hoping the payoff starts now, with this year," Saleh said.

6. Turf demon exorcised: Thomas said he has no concerns about playing on the turf at MetLife Stadium. You may recall he tore an ACL at MetLife in Week 2 of the 2020 season, one of a few 49ers injured that day. Afterward, they complained about the quality of the turf, which had just been installed. Thomas, who will play on it at least eight times, said he "forgave" the turf before a game last season against the New York Giants.

"I came out early before the game, about three hours before game time, and I sat on the turf and I made amends with it," said Thomas, who returned as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders. "I talked to it. I forgave it. I said, 'Hey, going forward, we're going to be buddies.' Me and the turf are on good terms now."

He suspects the quality will be better now that it's broken in.

7. The imperfect 10s: Thomas, the third overall pick in 2017, becomes the 10th former top-10 pick to join the Jets since 2000. Let's take a walk down memory lane. Some of these names will trigger bad memories, to be sure. A few of them worked out well. The best of the bunch was Thomas Jones.

8. Woody bucks: You can't say the Jets don't spend. They've doled out $81.4 million in fully guaranteed money, which ranks fifth, according to Over The Cap numbers. That includes re-signing their own players.

9. Can anybody kick straight? Hoping to put an end to the annual kicking carousel, the Jets have set the stage for a competition between two veterans, Greg Zuerlein and Eddy Pineiro. This is hardly a sure thing. Zuerlein, 34, is a declining vet who never has kicked in cold weather. Pineiro showed promise last December/January but still hasn't put together a full season.

Notoriously frugal when it comes to kickers, the Jets actually doled out a few bucks. They gave Zuerlein a $1 million guarantee on a one-year deal. Pineiro got about $700,000. Since 2019, the Jets are 31st and 32nd in field goal and PAT percentage, respectively.

10. The last word: "Absolutely. We need to be playing meaningful games in December." -- Douglas