Robby Anderson always considered himself a No. 1 receiver, even if few others did. The Jets certainly valued his speed and his potential, and they seemed pleased with the improvement they saw towards the end of last season.
But they never viewed him as their No. 1 in the past or for the future. So losing him to the Carolina Panthers isn't necessarily a big deal.
The real big deal is the problem they're going to have replacing him.
With Anderson now joining his old college coach, Matt Rhule, in Carolina on a two-year, $20 million contract with $12 million guaranteed, the Jets' receiving corps is basically down to this: Jamison Crowder and...and…and…well, mostly Jamison Crowder.
Because beyond Crowder and the 78 catches for 833 yards and six touchdowns he had last season, there isn't much left in Adam Gase's offensive cupboard.
Maybe Quincy Enunwa will make a miraculous return from multiple neck injuries, though that still feels like a bit of a longshot. But right now the No. 2 receiver is Vyncint Smith, who had 17 catches last season. After him …
Well, Jets GM Joe Douglas sure has a lot of work to do.
So far, Douglas has concentrated his offseason work on rebuilding the offensive line and making sure that young quarterback Sam Darnold is protected. And that really was the right approach. But all the time in the world in the pocket will prove useless to Darnold if there aren't receivers getting open. He needs some playmakers, too.
So what are the options? Unfortunately there aren't many.
The Jets could still re-sign Demaryius Thomas, who had 36 catches for 433 yards last season after coming over from the Patriots. But he's 32 and really nothing more than a third or fourth receiver at this point in his career.
As for the rest of the free-agent market, it's painfully thin. The Jets had nosed around Phillip Dorsett, but he reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. The best available receiver is probably Breshad Perriman -- notably a former Raven, which is a trait Douglas seems to like. But he's never had more than the 36 catches for 645 yards and six touchdowns he had in Tampa last year.
The options don't get better from there. There's Demarcus Robinson, a 25-year-old who had a flash of brilliance early last season with the Chiefs, but then still only managed 32 catches for 449 yards despite making 10 starts in one of the NFL's most prolific offenses.
But that's really it. And those are essentially role players the Jets could sign for a cheap, one-year deal with the hope they're able to contribute a little more.
And presumably, Douglas will now have to sign one of them. But now he also almost certainly has to take another receiver in the first two rounds of the draft. He may get his pick of the top receivers -- like Alabama's Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb.
Before Anderson's departure, though, many around the NFL were convinced Douglas was planning to take a tackle at No. 11. If he does, the good news is most scouts think there are a ton of talented receivers who can be found in Rounds 2 and 3, too.
His only other hope is a Hail Mary, that maybe a No. 1 receiver can be found in a trade, the way the Buffalo Bills scored with a deal for Stefon Diggs. There have been reports that maybe the L.A. Rams will make Brandin Cooks available. He's a true No. 1 and only 26, but iscoming off an injury-ravaged season and is only entering the second year of a five-year, $81 million contract extension, so his cost just in cap space is huge.
Knowing all that, re-signing Anderson really was the best choice for the Jets, even if it wasn't a perfect choice. Now that he's gone, it's clear that while Anderson was a pretty limited receiver, he's leaving shoes that may be impossible to quickly fill.