Jets exploring wide-receiver market, but it's buyer beware

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets suffer an October loss to an NFC team. Their rookie quarterback throws three interceptions. The lack of explosive talent at wide receiver is painfully obvious.

So what does the team do? A few days later, it trades for a wide receiver.

Braylon Edwards.

This was 2009, when the Jets were breaking in Mark Sanchez with a pedestrian cast of receivers. Instead of standing pat after a loss to the New Orleans Saints, then-general manager Mike Tannenbaum traded third- and fifth-round draft picks, plus two marginal players, for the talented but enigmatic Edwards. He turned out to be a key player in two playoff runs.

Nearly a decade later, the Jets are faced with a similar situation. With little help from his banged-up group of receivers, Sam Darnold threw three interceptions Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, sparking an outcry from fans and media to trade for a receiver before next Tuesday's league deadline.

My take: It doesn't make sense for the Jets to make any knee-jerk moves. The Dallas Cowboys made one Monday, trading a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper, but the Cowboys -- much like the '09 Jets -- fancy themselves as a legitimate contender. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but they're closer than the Jets, who would be wise to protect their future assets and resist the quick fix.

Interestingly, the Jets showed some interest in Cooper, whom they rated very highly in the 2015 draft. They still have a high opinion of his game and explored the possibility of a trade, but they didn't want to part with a first rounder and have no second rounder in 2019. The front office will continue to work the phone lines, seeing if there's a deal to be made before next Tuesday's NFL trading deadline.

The Jets need a receiver. Without Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Terrelle Pryor (groin), who was released but might return when he's healthy, they're down to Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson and a trio of journeymen/special-teamers. On Sunday, the entire unit made only seven receptions on 21 targets. That kind of average will get a hitter in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it won't win many football games. Darnold certainly didn't have his "A" game, but he also didn't have a lot of open receivers.

The Jets are in an interesting position. Darnold's development is paramount, so it behooves them to surround him with as many weapons as possible, but at what expense? It makes no sense to deal a middle-round pick (or higher) for a temporary solution.

"It's not about him developing, it's about us winning games," coach Todd Bowles said Monday. "It's not about Sam, it's about our team. Whatever guy can help us win a ballgame, that's what we'll do."

Let's take a look at some options:

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: Now that Cooper has been moved, Thomas is the biggest name on the trading block. He was a terrific player from 2012 to 2016, when he had Peyton Manning throwing to him, but his numbers have dropped to the pedestrian level. He has 33 catches for 372 yards (11.3 average) and three touchdowns. His best game came against the Jets -- five for 105 and a touchdown.

The Broncos reportedly are looking to move his burdensome contract -- $8.5 million this year and $14 million next season. Thomas will be 31 in December, so his best days are behind him. Could he help the Jets? Sure, but he'd probably be just a rental for the remainder of the season. No, thanks.

Dez Bryant, free agent: The most appealing thing about Bryant is that it wouldn't take any trade compensation to get him, just money. Other than that, why? Bryant hasn't played in nearly a year and his game has declined steadily. He's a handful to coach and he's tough on his quarterbacks. Darnold has enough on his plate; the last thing he needs is a diminished diva pestering him for the ball. From what I understand, the Jets have no interest in Bryant. Smart.

Other names on the trading block: Emmanuel Sanders, Kelvin Benjamin and DeVante Parker are churning around the rumor mill. They probably could get Benjamin from the Buffalo Bills for a bag of balls, but he hasn't been a good player in two years. The Miami Dolphins reportedly were seeking at least a third-round pick for Parker, who has intriguing upside, but their plans might have changed now that Albert Wilson is injured.

Sanders is interesting. He's having a good year for the Broncos (46 catches, 603 yards, three touchdowns), but he's 30 years old with a big salary -- $8.2 million and $10.2 million. He, too, would be a rental.

Stick with the current cast: This is the way to go, assuming Enunwa will be back in a few weeks. If he can return after the bye, he'll have six games to finish out the season. If they can re-sign a healthy Pryor, they'll be back to four deep. In the meantime, they can live with Anderson and Kearse, rotating Andre Roberts, Charone Peake and Deontay Burnett in backup roles. They'd be in better shape if they hadn't blown so many draft picks, but what's done is done.

"I've seen them practice for a while, but obviously the more we get nicked up, we have to have numbers to produce," Bowles said. "Certain guys are doing certain packages and have to get more reps, and have to come around faster than usual."

It's not ideal, but a costly Band-Aid isn't the answer.