Corey Davis, somewhat improbably, remains on the New York Jets‘ roster as the calendar prepares to turn to August. Oft-mentioned as a release candidate heading into the 2023 offseason, Davis is now competing for playing time on a relatively crowded Jets wide receiver depth chart. Will New York keep him on the roster into the regular season, or could Davis still be traded or cut before Week 1?
Corey Davis Is Still a New York Jet — for Now
Entering the final year of his three-year, $37.5 million contract, Davis is scheduled to earn a $10.5 million base salary in 2023, none of which is guaranteed. His $11.17 million cap charge is the third-highest figure on the Jets’ roster, trailing only linebacker C.J. Mosley and offensive tackle Duane Brown.
Davis is — at best — New York’s No. 4 receiver behind Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, and Mecole Hardman heading into the regular season. Once Aaron Rodgers favorite Randall Cobb comes off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, Davis could become the Jets’ WR5.
Head coach Robert Saleh said in May that Davis would be with the Jets in 2023, but the idea of paying the 28-year-old eight figures next season doesn’t make sense, especially given that he’s coming off two consecutive injury-plagued campaigns and has missed 12 games over the past two years.
Davis wouldn’t come anywhere near a $10.5 million salary on the open market. And Brian Costello of the New York Post suggested in June that the Jets wouldn’t keep Davis at his current rate.
But New York has yet to make a move. While they convinced edge rusher Carl Lawson to accept a $6 million pay cut earlier this offseason, the Jets have not altered Davis’ contract. New York is taking a calculated risk by keeping Davis on the roster into training camp. If Davis gets injured during a practice session, the Jets will essentially be forced to retain him and pay his full salary.
The Jets don’t necessarily need the cap space that they currently have devoted to Davis. After Rodgers accepted a reworked contract earlier this week, New York has nearly $16 million in cap space. A potential Dalvin Cook signing wouldn’t put much of a dent in that total.
Maybe the Jets plan to keep Davis as an expensive depth piece. But if they do decide to move him, New York could find a least a few suitors.
Corey Davis Landing Spots
Davis may have made sense for teams like the Titans and Lions, but Tennessee has since signed DeAndre Hopkins, while Detroit already acquired another ex-Jets wideout in Denzel Mims. Still, a couple of teams stand out as potential Davis landing spots.
Davis’ best NFL campaign — and the season that landed him his current contract with the Jets — came in 2020, when he posted 65 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns for the Titans. Tennessee’s offensive coordinator at the time? Current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith.
Atlanta threw the ball at a lower rate than every team but the Bears in 2022. After drafting Bijan Robinson in the first round and committing to second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Falcons will likely continue with that strategy next season.
However, they could still use an upgrade at WR2, where journeyman Mack Hollins is scheduled to play opposite Drake London. Hollins and Davis play similar roles, as both are willing blockers who could help in Atlanta’s run game, but Davis offers more upside as a pass catcher.
Kansas City Chiefs
Analysts have been attempting to send a wide receiver to the Chiefs ever since they traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins last offseason.
Kansas City acquired Kadarius Toney from the Giants at the 2022 trade deadline, but Toney is already hurt again. The former first-round pick underwent knee surgery earlier this week and might not be available for the start of the regular season.
Patrick Mahomes may not need another wide receiver. But with Toney on the sidelines and JuJu Smith-Schuster now on the Patriots, the Chiefs could consider adding another veteran to a WR mix that includes Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, rookie Rashee Rice, and Richie James.
Davis would likely need to accept a pay cut to join the Chiefs, and he could be willing to do so if it meant catching passes from the reigning league MVP. Kansas City only has $562,000 in available cap space, but they could create more room by extending defensive tackle Chris Jones in the coming days.
Wait for an Injury
As evidenced by Toney’s surgery, injuries — unfortunately — often occur during training camp. The Jets could play the waiting game and see if another team suffers a loss at wide receiver over the next several weeks.
No club is likely to be willing to acquire Davis at his current salary. But if Davis is presented with the opportunity to land with another team that could offer a clearer path to regular playing time, he could be amenable to trimming his pay.
Davis is known as a highly intelligent player with a strong football IQ, and he’s also viewed as a locker-room leader. Given that he’s a known commodity who should be able to pick up a new offense on the fly, Davis could become an attractive solution if a rival team suddenly needs another wideout.