Where could the slot receiver land?
Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes
One of the most underappreciated positions in the NFL is slot wide receiver. A good slot receiver provides a safety blanket for the offense and is crucial in short-yardage situations. On the Jets over the past few seasons, Jamison Crowder has been their slot receiver. During his two seasons with Gang Green, Crowder has finished with a PFF grade in the 70s, firmly placing him as an above-average wide receiver.
However, the Jets are undergoing major changes on every level. New head coach Robert Saleh drafted BYU quarterback in the first round, and Ole Miss slot receiver Elijah Moore in the second round. The Jets are looking to add cornerbacks to their depth chart, and they need to free up some money. Crowder has missed OTAs because the Jets asked him to take a pay cut. If Crowder does not take a pay cut, the Jets will either trade him or cut him, freeing up 10 million dollars and forcing Crowder onto a new team. Though every team could use a slot receiver, two stick out as the best landing spots.
Kansas City Chiefs
During free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs pursued Steelers’ slot receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. While Juju did not accept their offer, the Chiefs still have a glaring need at wide receiver. The Chiefs’ depth chart past Tyreek Hill is Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and Cornell Powell. Now I do not know what a Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, or Cornell Powell are, but I know that the Chiefs need competent wide receivers. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are the clear alphas in the Chiefs offense, and Hardman and Clyde Edwards-Helaire will see meaningful targets in the passing offense, but beyond that, it is a wasteland.
Tyreek can play from the slot or succeed from the outside. If Crowder were to sign with the Chiefs, Hill would kick out to the outside virtually any snap that he would share with Crowder. Crowder could succeed in the underneath area of the field, giving Kelce and Hill the chance to run deeper routes and rip off big plays.
After a quiet free agency and active 2021 NFL draft, the Bears still have a hole at slot receiver. The Bears are still looking to trade Anthony Miller, meaning the Bears may not have a true slot receiver on their roster come September. 7th round pick Dazz Newsome had an opportunity to win the slot role this offseason, but he broke his collarbone and may not be healthy in time for training camp. The Bears’ current receiver room boasts Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, and new acquisition Damiere Bryd. Byrd and Mooney are burners, while Robinson is a true alpha, outside wide receiver.
Jamison Crowder would be the front runner for the slot role in the Windy City if he were to sign with the Bears. Though Andy Dalton is the current top quarterback on the Bears’ roster, it is only a matter of time until Justin Fields takes control. Fields’ Ohio State success came from his exceptional deep accuracy, but a safety blanket like Crowder can help acclimate Fields to the league.